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Pensacola's Confederate Monument (Part 7): "The Chicago Affair"

Something happened on May 30, 1895, four years after the Pensacola Confederate monument was unveiled, that many probably didn't expect: a Confederate monument was built, not in Atlanta or Vicksburg or Fredericksburg or Manassas. It was erected in Chicago's Oakwoods Cemetery and unveiled in an extraordinary ceremony well attended by veterans of the Blue and the Grey. The monument was a 30-foot granite column topped with a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier, a figure based on the painting "Appomattox" by John Adams Elder like the one that stands atop Pensacola's Confederate monument.

The Chicago Tribune published a front page article in its May 31, 1895 issue about the event under the headings, "Ends All Ill Will," "Animosities of the Rebellion Buried at Oakwoods," "Blue Joins with Gray," "Confederate Monument Dedication is a Big Success," "Are American Heroes All," "General Hampton's Speech Spirited and Full of Patriotism."

Former Confederate General Wade Hampton of South Carolina delivered the main address. It was as magnanimous as it was reverent to the Confederate dead whom the event was designed to honor. "No monument in the world has such an honorable history as attaches to yonder one. That marks the graves of no victorious soldiers, but of the followers of a lost cause; it stands not on Southern soil, but on Northern; the men who rest under its shadow come from our far-off southland; and it owes its erection not to the comrades of these dead soldiers, but mainly to the generosity and magnanimity of their former foes, the citizens of this great city."

Speaking of both, the honor of those in Chicago who made the monument possible and of the Confederate dead who fought and died for the principles in which they believed, General Hampton said, "In the name of my comrades, dead and living, and in my own name, I give grateful thanks to the brave men of Chicago who have done honor to our dead here, not as Confederate soldiers, but as brave men who preferred imprisonment and death rather than freedom obtained by dishonorable sacrifice of the principles for which they were willing to die."

Then, General Hampton spoke for the hundreds of thousands of enlisted soldiers who went to war, simply as a debt of duty. "Of the 6,000 Confederates buried here not one was an officer; all were privates, in no way responsible for the unhappy war which brought a myriad woes upon our country. And yet these humble private soldiers, any one of whom could have gained freedom by taking the oath of allegiance to the Federal Government, preferred death to the sacrifice of their principles. Can any possible dishonor attach to the brave men of Chicago because they are willing to recognize the courage and devotion to duty of these dead Confederates? Every Southern man felt a call made upon him by his State was an imperative command, and his duty was to obey without hesitation and at all hazards. When the North called on its citizens to rally to the old flag they responded to the summons from a sense of duty, as did the people of the South to the call made on them."

Papers throughout the country, newspapers like the Morning Democrat (Davenport, IA), the Marion Daily Star (Marion, OH), the Montclair Times (Montclair, NJ); the Springfield Leader and Press (Springfield, MO), the Spirit of Jefferson (Charles Town, West Virginia), the News-Journal (Mansfield, OH), the Lincoln Journal Star (Lincoln, NE), the Times Herald (Port Huron, MI), the Reading Times (Reading, PA), the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, PA), the Courier (Waterloo, IA), the Alameda Daily Argus (Alameda, CA), the Journal Times (Racine, WI), the Knoxville Journal (Knoxville, TN), the Green Bay Press-Gazette (Green Bay, WI) published reactions to the unveiling of the monument written on other editorial pages from around the country:

"They seem to have concluded out in Chicago, anyway, that the war is over. 
 - Boston Globe

"There is nothing small about Chicago. She has no ill will against the dead heroes in gray." 
Nashville American

"To our view the Chicago incident did far more to obliterate Mason and Dixon's line than anything which has occurred since the war." 
Oswego Palladium

"The Confederate monument dedicated at Chicago is something more than a pure granite shaft, with tablets of bronze. It is a monument to the good sense and genuine patriotism of the American people." 
New York World

"When fair southerners strew flowers on the graves of the Union dead, and that people of Chicago assist in the dedicatino of a Confederate monument, it is safe to conclude that in some portions of the country at least the cruel war is ended." 
Detroit Free Press

"History furnishes few events as encouraging as the dedication of the Confederate monument in Chicago. It shows that the soldiers of the north and of the south are not only brave enough to do battle, but they are brave enough to forgive and forget." 
Detroit Tribune

"They can unveil all the Confederate monuments they please. It is not the causethe lost causethey are honoring but the bravery and life some men gave to that cause. The cause itself is as dead and buried as the quarrel of Ghibellines and Guelphs. 
Cincinnati Commercial Gazette

"Among those who participated in the unveiling of the Confederate monument at Chicago yesterday were some of the bravest and most noted men who fought in the Union army. If such men saw nothing improper in attending the exercises, it is for others to refrain from criticism." 
Grand Rapids Democrat

"The monument erected in Chicago to the Confederate dead who died in prison there was unveiled with appropriate ceremonies and without kindling the fires of rebellion. From flowers watered with tears, treason does not grow. Southerners are not worse but better for grieving over the unreturning brave, their comrades is a lost cause." 
Terre Haute Gazette

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