April 16, 1866
On this day, a group of prominent Montgomery women gathered at the Court Street Methodist Church. Their discussion centered on the desperate need to improve conditions at cemeteries following the Civil War and to handle reburials of soldiers laid in hastily dug, shallow graves that had washed out and, in some cases, were plundered by vandals. The group formed the Ladies Society for the Burial of Deceased Alabama Soldiers but soon changed its name to the Ladies Memorial Association. Ten days later, the association held its first memorial ceremony at Oakwood Cemetery, decorating graves of both Southern and Northern soldiers. By May 1, the group had raised $1,000 to support 200 burials. Over several decades, the association continued its work. It also advocated for Confederate Memorial Day and helped raise funds for the Alabama Confederate Monument adjacent to the state Capitol. Similar associations were active across the South following the Civil War.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
Organizations such as the Ladies Memorial Association arose in the Reconstruction Era and aimed to recognize and honor the sacrifices made by those who served in the Confederate military. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives and History)
Hon. Howell Cobb presiding in the Senate Chamber in the Capitol at Montgomery, 1861. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)
Three unidentified young soldiers in uniforms with shotguns, musket and pipes in a field with a fence in the background, 1861 – 1865. (Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)
Grave of an unknown Confederate soldier at the Beech Grove Confederate Cemetery in Beechgrove, Tennessee, 2016. (Brian Stansberry, Wikipedia)
Dr. Stephen Carney, historian of Arlington National Cemetery, addresses the crowd at the Confederate Memorial Day exercises at the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia on June 8, 2014. Carney spoke about the historic significance of the memorial as a Confederate monument in what was then seen as a Union cemetery, and he briefly addressed how the memorial was seen as a monument to national unity. (Tim Evanson, Wikipedia)
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.