Restricted Little Rock, Arkansas Confederate Soldiers Monument AKA “Defending the Flag”

Joined
Jan 28, 2021
Little Rock, Arkansas

Confederate Soldiers Monument

AKA “Defending the Flag”

by Norman Dasinger Jr​



Dedicated June 3, 1905, funding for this five-tiered monument with a twelve foot bronze angel holding a wreath at the top and an eight foot bronze soldier carrying a flag at its front, began in 1886 by the Ladies Memorial Association of Little Rock. By 1896, the Memorial Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) had taken over fundraising and once the Arkansas Gazette newspaper joined the effort the $10,000 needed to begin construction was reached.



Fredrick Ruckstuhl, a native Frenchman, was chosen to design and sculpt the monument. After moving from France to St Louis, Missouri with his family in 1855, Ruckstuhl decided as a young man to become a sculptor. He traveled back to his home country and studied under several artists including, perhaps, Auguste Rodin. Once back in the US, he opened a studio in New York and his work Evening won the grand medal for sculpture at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Such notoriety landed him the job of instructor of modeling and marble carving at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He was a founding member of the National Sculpture Society and editor of the magazine Art World.



On the day the monument was dedicated, more than 3,000 people attended. A parade led by the band of the Second Regiment of US Troops from nearby Fort Logan Roots arrived ahead of a contingent of Confederate and Union Veterans, UDC ladies and Governor of Arkansas Jeff Davis. As the red white and blue cloth was removed the band played “Dixie”. US Senator James H Berry presented the UDC representatives recent Confederate battle flags that had been returned from federal custody by an act of Congress. Berry was a wounded Confederate combat veteran having lost a leg serving in the 16th​ Arkansas Infantry. Before his appointment to senator, Berry had served one term as governor. Later in his life he was on staff with the Arkansas History Commission and charged with marking graves of Arkansas soldiers who had died in northern prisons.



On one side of the memorial, Ruckstuhl engraved, “OUR FURLED BANNER/WREATHED WITH GLORY/ AND THOUGH CONQUERED/ WE ADORE IT/ WEEP FOR THOSE/WHO FELL BEFORE IT/PARDON THOSE WHO/TRAILED AND TORE IT.”



While this monument still stands on the northeast corner of Woodlane and 4th​ Street in Little Rock, in 2020 Governor Asa Hutchinson made this statement in regards to the capitol grounds and its monuments. “These are controlled by the Arkansas General Assembly and the Secretary of State. The prominence of monuments does challenge us to reflect on what best represents our state and our future…We can’t change history, but we should emphasize the importance of our historical markers to learn from the mistakes of the past.”

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