Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cockades for General Lee

On January 19, 1807, Robert Edward Lee was born in Virginia. He was to become one of the most famous generals of all time, often ranked by historians beside such luminaries as Alexander the Great, Hannibal and Napoleon.

One man observed of Lee: "He was a foe without hate; a friend without treachery; a soldier without cruelty; a victor without oppression, and a victim without murmuring. He was a public officer without vices; a private citizen without wrong; a neighbour without reproach; a Christian without hypocrisy, and a man without guile. He was a Caesar, without his ambition; Frederick, without his tyranny; Napoleon, without his selfishness, and Washington, without his reward."

After his death in 1870, people across the former Confederacy began to talk about raising a monument in his honor. In 1890, their dream was fulfilled and the Lee Monument in Richmond, VA was unveiled.

A Monument for Lee

The Lee Monument was a statue of the general on his horse, mounted on a high pedestal. (Though many mistakenly think the horse is Traveler, it isn't, because Traveler wasn't consider grand enough for the sculpture.)

The bronze figure was created in Europe and when it arrived in Richmond, thousands of people turned out to greet it. In fact, the people were so excited they personally dragged the wagons carrying the crates from the train to the monument site. Ropes that were used were later cut up as souvenirs that families saved for generations.

The monument was dedicated and unveiled on May 29, 1890. The audience was estimated to be 100,000-150,000 people. A parade that included 50 Confederate generals, 15,000 Confederate veterans and 10,000 citizens preceded the unveiling.

A souvenir created for the dedication. 
To Generations Yet Unborn

There is a large section of the May 30 New York Times edition devoted to the dedication. The final paragraph of the dedication speech is included:

"Let this monument teach to generations yet unborn these lessons of his life. Let it stand, not as a record of civil strife but as a perpetual protest against whatever is low and sordid in our private and public objects. Let it stand as a memorial of personal honor that never brooked a stain; of knightly valor without thought of self; of far-reaching military genius, unsoiled by ambition; of heroic constancy, from which no cloud of misfortune could ever hide the path of duty. Let it stand as a great public act of thanksgiving and praise for that it pleased Almighty God to bestow upon these Southern States a man so formed to reflect his attributes of power, majesty, and goodness."

Interestingly, the same day the monument was dedicated in Richmond, the city of Charleston, SC also celebrated. St. Michael's Church, whose bells were cast into cannon during the war, and recast into bells afterwards, played Confederate music such as "Dixie" and "The Bonnie Blue Flag" on the bells all day.

American Civil War Museum

Souvenirs and Cockades

A Google search turns up quite a number of souvenirs from the dedication of the monument. Ribbons and medals galore were apparently seen in the crowd. And so were cockades!

General Wade Hampton wore this Palmetto Secession Badge at dedication. It was preserved and now belongs to the American Civil War Museum. This was a popular style of palmetto cockade during the war. Many museums in the South have these lovely southern emblems of the Confederacy.

Honor Lee and Jackson

I have created a special cockade to honor Lee and Jackson this month. You can order from my Etsy shop or my Ecwid shop (or from the link right below this). I'm always happy to work with you if you need a custom order or a group discount. Just send me an email or message me on Facebook!

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