What exactly is the SCV’s problem with a new Olustee monument?

So there’s an effort underway by the Sons of Union Veterans to set up a monument at Olustee in order to “balance the cultural representation” on the battlefield, and some folks in the Sons of Confederate Veterans are opposed to the idea, calling it “a large black Darth Vadar-esque [sic] shaft that will disrupt the hallowed grown [sic] where Southern blood was spilled in defense of Florida, protecting Tallahassee from capture.

“I am altering the battlefield. Pray I don’t alter it any further.” (Image via http://www.jedipedia.de)

My opinion has always been that older monuments have intrinsic historical and artistic value, but when it comes to setting up new ones, I’d rather see these groups spend their money on something else, like buying endangered battlefield land, conserving artifacts, and so on.  I’m not opposed to new battlefield monuments on principle; I just don’t see the need to make sure every historical constituency involved with a site is represented with a slab of granite.

But having said all that, I don’t really get the SCV’s logic here.  Indeed, I’m not sure there’s any logic to be had.  There are Union monuments on countless battlefields across the South, just as there are Confederate monuments at Gettysburg and Antietam.  If this new monument is going to disrupt the site’s historic integrity, then fine, but I haven’t seen anybody make that case.  What the heck is the issue?


Filed under Civil War, History and Memory

5 responses to “What exactly is the SCV’s problem with a new Olustee monument?

  1. The SCV is, to me, an exasperating organization. Though I can’t help but appreciate much of what they do, other things have me scratching my head. As to monuments, they erected a beautiful and expensive monument on the Shiloh battlefield recently, a place where nice Southern monuments already were in place while the poor neglected Stones River battlefield, where it is likely more Southern soldiers died than at Shiloh, there is still no southern monument of any kind! Now why do they resist the erection of a monument to Union soldiers at Olustee? Beats me. They need to get over it. And get over the outcome of the war in general while they’re at it.

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Couple points to add.

    First, the “Darth Vadar-esque” quote is from Michael Givens, the Commander-in-Chief of the SCV, posted last month on that organization’s official blog. So opposition to this SUVCW monument isn’t from “some folks” in the SCV, but is coming directly from the head of that organization.

    Second, the most recent talking point, one that’s come up since last week or so, is that the SCV doesn’t oppose the new monument in principle, but object to its design and placement in close proximity to (or allegedly, “in front of”) existing Confederate monuments on the site. I personally think this is a red herring to confuse or obfuscate the fact that they don’t want the monument there, at all. At the same time, they’re complaining that the SUVCW has not provided detailed information about their plans, so the SCV is now, in effect, objecting to specific details of the plan they claim not to have seen the specific details of.

    It’s completely irrational to anyone who’s interested in looking past the “hallowed grown [sic] where Southern blood was spilled” rhetoric.

    • Michael Lynch

      Thanks for the info. I poked around online to try to find a picture of the proposed monument, but I didn’t see one. I wondered how they found out what it was supposed to look like.

      If they’re insisting on seeing plans of the thing and approving its placement, I wonder if this is going to escalate to a point where the SCV is going to demand some type of clearance whenever any Union-oriented heritage group tries to set up a marker in the South.

      • It’s a state park, so I don’t think the SCV has any real say, except to the extent that they can cause a scene. Increasingly, that’s the preferred method of “heritage defense,” creating a spectacle and draw negative attention until the other side gives you what you want to make you go away. (That’s the core idea behind “flagging,” generally.) It’s a tacit admission that you cannot win the case on rational weighing of the merits.

        As for what they claim to know about the monument, I don’t know what the source of information is. I do that that crowd will accept virtually any negative assertion about the “opposition,” and no one ever seems to get called out for spreading false information.

  3. Buck Custer

    To begin with, when the Olustee Battlefield State Park was founded back in 1899 there was a law passed that required not only monuments but also “markers” identifying each unit;s location. There were a total of three acrers donated to the State of Florida, one acre by a gentleman named John Brown and his wife and two acres by Austin B. Fletcher, a New York lawyer, educator and philanthropist who at one time owned around 100,000 acres of timberland in Florida and operated a Railroad Tie and Creosote factory in Jacksonville. Mr Fletcher was a member of the Union League Club in New York City and a good friend of fellow member Theodore Roosevelt, a well know conservationist. Mr Fletcher donated land in several location in Florida as a Conservationist. The SCV and it’s ally, the UDC (United Daughters of the Confederacy) have asserted that the UDC donated the land. This is 100% hogwash, I have seen the deeds in the Baker County Courthouse, showing the transfers from Mr and Mrs Brown and from Austin B Fletcher to the State of Florida. The UDC came into the picture AFTER the Confederate Monument was erected by the State and they were paid to maintain it, tend the grass and wash down the monument from time to time. Appropriations of $400-$500 were made each year until 1923 and paid to the UDC. The law passed in 1899 has never been complied with. Since the initial Confederatr monument was built and instaslled, two additional monumenbts to Confederate Generals have been erected, but as yet, none memorializing the 5,500 Union Soldiers who fought there,, or the 2,000+ who DIED on that battlefield. This is not only a disgrace, but a violation of the law that established the Park.

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