Confederate Soldier’s Memorial
by Norman Dasinger Jr
by Norman Dasinger Jr
“If NASCAR can get rid of Confederate flags, why can’t Madison County (Alabama) remove the (CSA) monument?” asked Rosa Parks Committee member, David Person in early June of 2020.
David Odom, president of the Tennessee Valley Progressive Alliance, in an AL.COM, June 10, 2020, article, added, “We can remove it today. All we need is a small crane and a flatbed truck.”
A week later, the Madison County Commission unanimously approved a resolution to remove the memorial. Commissioner JesHenry Malone said at that time, “removal of the statue makes Madison County more inclusive.” William Tuminello a citizen of Huntsville had a different opinion the night of that vote and told the commissioners ‘the statue is not about slavery and shouldn’t be moved without a vote of the public,’ per an AL.COM report.
Dedicated November 21, 1905, by the Virginia Clay-Clopton Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), one side of the monument has the following unique but locally important inscription: IN MEMORY OF/ GENERAL JOHN HUNT MORGAN/ “THUNDERBOLT OF THE CONFEDERACY”/ BORN IN HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA/JUNE 1 1825/ DIED DEFENDING THE NOBLE CAUSE/SEPT 1864
The local UDC Chapter’s namesake and primary person responsible for its formation and one of the mainstays in raising the funds for this memorial was Virginia Clay-Clopton. While she worked tirelessly for the UDC in Alabama, at the same time, she had equal interest in the growing national crusade for women’s suffrage. As proof of her determination and dedication to this effort, she served as president of the statewide Alabama Equal Rights Association, a signatory of the petition for suffrage that was submitted to the 1901 Alabama Constitutional Convention and locally, the president of the Huntsville Chapter of the Equal Rights Suffrage Association.
She was from North Carolina but at 18 years old married Huntsville native Clement C Clay. He would be elected to the US Senate in 1853 and he and Virginia then moved to Washington DC. After the Civil War both of them were imprisoned at Fortress Monroe, Virginia; having been accused of helping to plot the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. They were never indicted or brought to trial for this claim. Clement died in 1882 and Virginia later married David Clopton a member of the state supreme court. After his death, she published her memoirs and continued to be active in state, national and local causes.
When the Madison County CSA memorial was dedicated many veterans from both the Northern and the Southern Armies were in attendance. In fact, it was recorded that the largest gathering of Civil War soldiers that had ever been seen in North Alabama became witness to the monument’s unveiling.
In the predawn hours of October 23, 2020, the city of Huntsville removed the monument from the courthouse square. It and the sign describing the history of the shrine were relocated to nearby Maple Hill Cemetery.