Salute to the Gray and the Blue

The Gray

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During the Civil War Americans were fighting against Americans. Brothers against brothers—cousins against cousins, every casualty and every fatality was an American. The war tore the country apart and threatened the very existence of the Republic itself.  The war left an edible mark on all who lived through those times. Rightly, town squares, parks, battle sites, and cemeteries throughout the United States pay tribute with monuments to the soldiers that fought to preserve the Union and those who fought to preserve the South and the Confederacy.  Cemeteries often have special sections where the soldiers themselves are buried.  Most of the monuments across the country, whether they be in the North or the South, were funded either by the soldiers themselves or associations created to honor the service of those who wore a uniform—gray or blue.

To honor the 24 Confederate war dead buried in unmarked graves in the Oak Hill Cemetery at Evansville, Indiana, the Fitzhugh Lee Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy had erected a monument in 1904. The monument is comprised of two elements—a large polished and matte granite block and a sculpture of Confederate soldier on a large gray granite base.  The granite block has carved on the face:

IN LOVING REMEMBRANCE OF OUR

CONFEDERATE DEAD

1861-1865

On the base of the large granite block is a bronze plaque that reads:

THIS TABLET WAS PLACED ON THIS MONUMENT BY THE UNITED STATES TO MARK THE BURIAL PLACE OF 24 CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS, WHO, WHILE PRISONERS OF WAR, DIED AT EVANSVILLE AND WERE BURIED IN THIS CEMETERY, WHERE THE INDIVIDUAL GRAVES CANNOT BE IDENTIFIED NOW.

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Below that are the names of the 24 soldiers buried in Oak Hill. The statue beside the block a life size replica of a Confederate soldier holding a rifle, butt down.  The soldier is in full uniform and gazes forward in a direct and respectful manner.

The Blue

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Not to be outdone by the Confederate ladies, in 1909, the auxiliary organization to the G.A.R., the Woman’s Relief Corp embarked on a campaign to raise a monument to salute the Union soldiers buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery. There are nearly 600 Union war soldiers buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, many of whom died after the bloody and hard-fought Battle of Shiloh and in the Evansville area hospitals.  The monument honoring the Union soldiers is comprised of a large gray granite marker with a Union soldier standing atop.  The soldier holds his rifle, butt down, as he gazes forward over the graves of the fallen.

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Inscribed on the plinth:

ERECTED

BY THE

WOMAN’S RELIEF CORPS

A. D. 1909

IN MEMORY OF

THE COMRADES OF

FARRAGUT POST NO. 27

DEPARTMENT OF INDIANA

GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC

1861 — 1865

LOYALTY

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The large section of Civil War soldiers resembles a military cemetery—576 soldiers from 13 states—whose headstones are lined up in rows—are also honored with restored cannons and stacks of cannonballs as part of the tribute paid to their service.

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