The reaction to iconoclastic methods being employed by the Marxists and their willful masses is a mixed bag. I’ve come across people who are outraged at the destruction of memorials and statues across America, but there’s an equal number of people who are gleeful and complicit, while keeping their hands clean at the same time. Somewhere in the middle is a large group of people who range from apathetic to disappointed but unwilling to take action. In this age of virtue signalling and identity politics, it’s kind of risky to take a stand publicly against the Social Justice Warrior network that includes the militant groups like Black Lives Matter and Antifa. But if you read on, you will see how you can help without targeting yourself!
So why do monuments matter anyway? Some argue the monuments to Confederates were erected during the Jim Crow era to flex against the black community that was slowly gaining civil liberties in the post-Reconstruction South. While the timeline of the monuments may seem to reflect that, the reality is it simply isn’t true. The historical record actually shows us the monuments were raised by ladies’ societies such as the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the fundraising efforts took years, and in some cases, more than a decade as they held bazaars, auctions, bake sales, and collected coins in order to raise memorials to their fathers, brothers, cousins, and sons who fought, and many of whom died, on battlefields across the nation.
One such soldier is my own 4x great-grandfather. A farmer from North Carolina who had settled in northern Mississippi more than a decade before the war, Howell Best Shelton was 45 years old when the war came. The father of 8 children never owned a slave, but worked hard to build the town of Chesterville that his father helped to found, and scratched out a living at their farm outside of town on the line of Pontotoc and Lee Counties. He did not rush off to join the Confederate forces after Mississippi seceded, but waited more than a year before he finally enlisted in Company G, 31st Mississippi Infantry. His enlistment term was for “3 years or the War,” which by then would have made him nearly 50 years old when the enlistment expired. Quite a commitment for any man of that age!
Shortly after enlistment, Howell began to suffer from illness, something that would plague him until his death. Off and on he had to take sick furlough, but always returned to his unit when he was well enough to fulfill his duties.
May, 1863. Union forces under General Ulysses S. Grant were advancing on Vicksburg from the east. They had failed to take the city from the River to the west and from the south and from the north. This overland route was their last-ditch effort to take the Gibraltar of the Mississippi. General John C. Pemberton’s 33,000-man strong Army of Mississippi was all that stood between the river city and Grant’s 77,000 army. General Pemberton staged a series of battles to the east in an attempt to repulse the Union advance. First at Jackson, then at Champion Hill, then at the Big Black River the Union forces overwhelmed the Confederates and drove them back into the defenses of Vicksburg, ultimately beginning a siege that lasted for more than 40 days. The city fell on July 4, 1863.
But Private Howell B. Shelton was not there to see the city fall. On or about May 20, he was captured from a hospital by the Union forces following the battle at Champion Hill. He was transported to Memphis, then Camp Morton, Indiana and then finally to Fort Delaware where he arrived on June 9. Pvt. Shelton was paroled on July 3, but was too sick to be transported and was left in the hospital at Fort Delaware. Three days later, July 6, 1863, Pvt. Howell B. Shelton died. His resting place remains unknown but to God.
When I see a monument to Confederate soldiers, those monuments are the only reminder of Shelton’s service. He has no grave stone, no entry on Find-a-Grave, nothing to signify his service and sacrifice that left a widow and 8 children alone in enemy territory. For Shelton and tens of thousands of other Confederate casualties, these monuments are the only places we can go to pay our respects to them. That is why monuments matter to me. And that is why the opinions of people like Rev. Robert W. Lee IV doesn’t matter to me (read more at this https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/06/07/robert-e-lee-is-my-ancestor-take-down-his-statue-let-his-cause-be-lost/ story).
We cannot stop every monument from being torn down, but we can put more back up! Will you stand with us and help us place more monuments across Dixie? Visit www.monumentsacrossdixie.com/donate and donate your pennies, or more! Every cent helps us honor Private Shelton and every other Confederate soldier who paid the ultimate sacrifice! And best of all, no Antifa goon or BLM activist has to know you did it!