Moving Memory: Virginia Military Institute’s Stonewall Jackson Statue

The boy who became the sculptor stood guard over the dead general’s casket. We don’t know if he ever saw him alive, though it is possible their paths may have crossed on a spring day in Richmond when the Civil War was just starting. However, the stories of Stonewall Jackson and all that he represented to the post-war Southern mind came to life decades later under the skillful hands Moses Ezekiel, a former Virginia Military Institute (VMI) cadet who had stood by as Corporal of the Guard at “Stonewall” Jackson’s final funeral in Lexington. Yesterday—December 7, 2020—that statue was removed from the parade field at VMI and begins its journey from the still-active military school to the quieter fields and museum setting at New Market battlefield in the shadow of Massanutten Mountain.

Photograph of the statue removal, Dec. 7, 2020. (Image from Sarah Rankin/AP. accessed at Military Times)

Most reading this blog post are familiar with Thomas J. Jackson, the Confederate general who baffled Union generals in the Shenandoah Valley, underperformed in the Seven Days, and helped to soar the Confederacy to battlefield victories until wounded on a dark road near Chancellorsville and “crossed the river” a week later. Most probably have strong opinions about Jackson as a man and as a general which will be reflected in their contemplations of yesterday’s reports and photos from Lexington. But perhaps in this moment of change, it would be helpful to consider a little about the artist and the history of the sculpture. Their sagas are not as well-known, but may be helpful to consider.

Moses Ezekiel, born on October 28, 1844 in a large Jewish family, grew up in Richmond and worked in his grandfather’s store as a bookkeeper. Fascinated by art, young Moses showed remarkable talent, and at age 13 created his first sculpture, a bust of clay, depicting his father. By 1861, the teen wanted to be a soldier, and finally, in 1862 with his family’s permission and a state cadetship (scholarship), he matriculated at Virginia Military Institute and was the first cadet of Jewish faith accepted at the school. At VMI, Ezekiel would have heard stories about “Old Tom Fool”, the professor-now-turned general, but he did not sit under Jackson’s tutelage nor fight under his command; standing guard during the general’s funeral and burial seems to have been the closest Ezekiel got to Jackson.[i]

Cadet Moses Ezekiel (VMI Archives)

Ezekiel helped write another chapter of Shenandoah Valley Civil War history, though, on May 15, 1864, when he and the rest of the Corps of Cadets fought at the Battle of New Market. Initially present as reserves, the corps came under fire on Shirley’s Hill and then later filled a gap in the Confederate lines near the Bushong Farm. With a sudden charge across an open muddy field, the cadets immortalized themselves by helping to win the day’s battle for the Confederate side. It came at a cost, though; Ezekiel’s roommate, Thomas Garland Jefferson, was mortally wounded, and Ezekiel was by his side when he died hours later.

Following the Battle of New Market and the burning of VMI the following month, the Corps of Cadets moved to Richmond. As the war came to an end, they helped defend the last lines around the Confederate capital. Union troops entering Richmond captured Ezekiel in his cadet uniform and put him in prison, offering to let him go if he would take the oath of allegiance. He refused, arguing he had down nothing wrong and whatever he had done he would certainly do again if given the opportunity. Eventually, Ezekiel’s father secured his release.[ii]

When VMI reopened, Ezekiel returned and finished his course of study. There, his artistic talent caught the attention Robert E. Lee, the new president of Washington College. Lee told Ezekiel: “I hope you will be an artist, as it seems to me you are cut out for one… But, whatever you do, try to prove to the world that if we did not succeed in our struggle, we are worthy of success, and do earn a reputation in whatever profession you undertake.”[iii] Lee’s words seem to have an effect on the young artist. After graduating, Ezekiel studied anatomy at the Medical College of Virginia and then moved to Cincinnati. His sculpting started to attract attention in local art galleries, and Ezekiel desired to pursue his study of art in Europe.

Moses Ezekiel (VMI Archives)

Ezekiel studied and worked in studios across Europe, eventually setting up his own in Rome. Scholars have grouped his art into three subject categories: religious, Confederacy, and heroic portraits. And sometimes the categories overlapped. His art was celebrated across the continents. U.S. Presidents and kings of Europe offered praise for his works which were commissioned on both sides of the Atlantic. [iv]

The Civil War had scarred and shaped Ezekiel’s life, and taking inspiration from Lee’s words, he crafted bronze figures to represent ideals, historical characters, and selective memory of Old South. Ezekiel considered himself devoted to the South, and experienced disappointment that more memorial committees did not approach him as the early phases of monument placements occurred. One note to a former VMI classmate in 1909 included: “I am happy, however, to say that I am now modeling a statue of Stonewall Jackson for Charleston, W. Va., in reality after forty years the only commission I ever received from the South.”[v]

That statue, completed in 1910, had been commissioned at the request of the United Daughters of the Confederacy to stand in front of the West Virginia state capitol building. (Jackson had been born in the part of Virginia that became West Virginia.) Ezekiel spent time on the details of this depiction of Jackson, down to the intricacy on the sword, gloves, and field glasses, trying to make visually accurate art to fit the legend and the piece of memory he was creating.

The statue was so admired that Ezekiel’s alma mater requested him to create a second version that would be placed at VMI. The sculpted image of Jackson stands, ready and alert. Ezekiel took inspiration from Jackson’s quote during on May 2, 1863, just prior to launch of his famed flank attack at Chancellorsville: “The Institute will be heard from today.” The version for VMI was placed and dedicated in 1912, with Mary Anna Jackson, the general’s widow, a welcomed guest of honor.

[2018 Photograph, Bierle]

The statue is a remarkable piece of art, a tribute to the life of “Stonewall” and also a visible piece of memory with many meanings attached to it at the time and through the later decades. Jackson’s sculpted figure stands stiffly straight, head upright, eyes on the horizon. His right hand balances his field glasses as though he has just pulled them away from his face while his left hand seems to tighten its grip of his sword. Wind flutters the front of the general’s bronze jacket, perhaps hinting at the action ordered by the legendary “Stonewall” who stayed still at Manassas until the moment he believed right for attack. The hat which Ezekiel chose to create on his heroic figure is unique since Jackson, by most accounts and surviving artifacts wore the kepi style of military headgear. Ezekiel went to great effort to make details of the sculpture accurate, even borrowing uniform items from Mrs. Jackson, making the choice of hat over kepi seem a little odd. (There is primary source evidence that Jed Hotchkiss procured a hat for Jackson during the war, but the style is not specified in the letter.) Another interesting detail is the cannonball resting at Jackson’s feet. Perhaps a nod to his days as an artillery instructor at VMI? Studying the statue gives the sense of a moment of time captured. The instant between decision and verbal command. An immovable character in the moment before action.

The original placement of the statue on the parade field. (2018 photograph, Bierle)

Memory —the inspiration for many pieces of art—lay at the heart of Moses Ezekiel’s renderings in bronze, marble, and other forms. As the statue moves toward a new location near the Virginia Museum of the Civil War at New Market Battlefield and into a new chapter of its existence, the bronze figure still looks ahead and over the heads of viewers, unaffected by its effects on us.

In the official press release, the VMI Interim Superintendent Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins addressed the location change:

“It is an understatement to say the relocation of the statue has evoked strong opinions on both sides of the issue. The history of VMI over the past 181 years is well documented. Stonewall Jackson’s ties to Lexington and the Institute as an instructor are part of that history. As a general during the American Civil War who prosecuted many successful engagements in the Shenandoah Valley, his story will continue to be told at this new location.

“VMI does not define itself by this statue and that is why this move is appropriate. We are defined by our unique system of education and the quality and character of the graduates the Institute produces. Our graduates embody the values of honor, respect, civility, self-discipline, and professionalism. This is how we will continue to be defined.”[vi]

Memory and how places or people define themselves are layered into the decisions and responses surrounding this statue’s long history. Ezekiel defined Jackson—crafting him in heroic bronze to be a symbol and represent a story. The relocation from parade field to preserved historical battlefield and educational museum perhaps offers a new opportunity to define Jackson. It is a unique opportunity to have a piece of art created by a soldier of a soldier at a Shenandoah Valley battlefield. True, Jackson did not fight at New Market, but his memory and his influence seems to have deeply touched the life of a cadet who did go into battle there. That former cadet’s hands crafted an image that has been a powerful symbol with different meanings for observers. How will that meaning be defined and interpreted in the new location? The story of this transition is still unfolding.

Sources:

[i] Stan Cohen and Keith Gibson, Moses Ezekiel: Civil War Soldier, Renowned Sculptor. (Missoula: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, 2007), 11.

[ii] Ibid., 13-14.

[iii] Ibid., 14.

[iv] Ibid., 20.

[v] Ibid., 25.

[vi] VMI Press Release, December 7, 2020: https://www.vmi.edu/news/headlines/2020-2021/vmi-begins-to-relocate-the-stonewall-jackson-statue.php

About Sarah Kay Bierle

I’m Sarah Kay Bierle, author, speaker, and researcher. Past and present, everyone has a story. What will we discover and discuss?
This entry was posted in Memory, Monuments and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to Moving Memory: Virginia Military Institute’s Stonewall Jackson Statue

  1. Pingback: Moving Memory: Virginia Military Institute’s Stonewall Jackson Statue | Emerging Civil War – Halfway Home: halfway between Crozet and Hampden-Sidney

  2. grego says:

    … and the leftist woke cult claims another victim……

  3. James Burster says:

    I suppose the Virginia Mourning Her Dead Monument will be next.
    What a shame.

  4. Bruce says:

    Although I should not be I’m always a bit shocked when people from our modern age judge historical figures of another age with little understanding of the issues or culture of the times. I guess relocating history is a step above erasing it all together. I’m glad I visited VMI in the old days.

  5. JoAnna McDonald says:

    To VMI leadership, Jackson’s monument did not commit any racist act, unless it came alive somehow. And even, if it did, Jackson was not a racist. He taught Sunday School to black children.
    This is about taking away our history. Take away our history and our Constitutional Republic, We the People, never existed. This is cultural genocide. It was very effective in the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc…it will fail here in the United States. Veritas et Libertas –

  6. armytncsa says:

    What a travesty! Another Woke school that has no guts to resist cancelling history/

  7. Douglas Pauly says:

    It’s remarkable to me how much in common today’s Democrat Party, and YES, THEY are behind ALL of this crap, resemble the antics taken by groups like ISIS as they too destroyed historical artifacts to advance their perverted agenda. Their similarities are stunning.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destruction_of_cultural_heritage_by_ISIL

  8. Thank you for a touching tribute to Moses Ezekiel. What it must have been like for him to be the first Jewish student at VMI and a scholarship student as well. I will be looking for his biography to learn more about this splendid artist.

    • He had a very interesting life, and I think you’ll enjoy learning more. The book referenced in the sources has a nice section about his different works of art and where to find them displayed. There are definitely a few on my travel list for the future, and I particularly want to look into seeing the statues in Norfolk – though they are not CW related, I should probably add.

    • The best source is Ezekiel’s memoir “Moses Jacob Ezekiel: Memoirs From the Baths of Diocletian”, published by Wayne State University Press in the 1970s. I don’t think it is currently in print. Ezekiel never finished his manuscript so it was up to the editors to put it together, and the result is a fascinating if occasionally patchy read. His postwar life in Rome is just as interesting as his Civil War service.

  9. Henry Fleming says:

    I say live and let live. But I get it, the institution has a couple problems. One of them is racial bias. One of them is yellow bellies. So to solve their problems they stab the guy in the back who was one of their own. My words not theirs, “We are so strong in our current beliefs, as strong as our forefathers were in theirs, that we will remove a statue of one of our heroes who taught at this very institution, who rose from last in his class at West Point to near the top, who set standards for bravery (Vera Cruz) and excellence on the field of battle that few have achieved. He was a slaveowner.” What about Matthew, Mark, Luke & John, they fought for the Confederacy, too.

    “Makers of men, creators of leaders, be careful what kind of leaders you’re producing here…
    If I were the man I was five years ago, I’d take a flamethrower to this place!”
    Lt. Col Frank Slade, Scent of a Woman.
    Wait a second, the Yankees already took a flamethrower to the place…

    While the Jackson statue is no good reason to visit VMI, they have a terrific weapons museum display, Little Sorrel & Jackson’s coat that he wore at Chancellorsville are there (it was rescued after the battle by a member of Mosby’s unit, but I digress) and across the parade ground from the site formerly known as Jackson’s statue, there is a nice museum to the memory of George Marshall which will give you a new appreciation for the man, until its deemed politically incorrect to feed post war starving citizens of your former enemy. Did I digress? I meant to point out one of the rifles displayed at the VMI museum, according to my memory, was a circa Civil War compressed air rifle, which shot smoke-free and silently. I seem to recall the sign next to it said the gun wasn’t considered fair play during the Civil War and so the weapon wasn’t very popular.

    Matthew, Mark, Luke & John, btw, are the four cannons you see mounted in the picture in front of Jackson at VMI.

  10. John B. Sinclair says:

    Sarah:

    Excellent piece. I am relieved that the statue is being a good home where it can still be displayed in an appropriate setting. It has now been three years since our mayor here in Baltimore removed the Robert E. Lee/Stonewall Jackson equestrian statue in front of our Baltimore Museum of Art. Ever since then, that statue (and others) has remained under tarps at a city waste water treatment plant pending a decision. A new mayor took office today and I am concerned about his plans for their disposition.

    I would like to add a different perspective here. When I was a senior in college (more years ago than I would like to admit), I was a resident advisor on a floor of rambunctious young men whose behavior it was my job to “supervise.” One night about 2:00 a.m., there was a banging at my door. I opened the door and on the floor in pain was Deon, an African-American student on my floor who had badly hurt his knee (he was also a starting guard on our varsity basketball team). I helped him into my room and onto my bed. I called campus security from my desk phone to come take him to the local emergency room. When I turned around, Deon was looking over my head in surprise at the wall where I had a Confederate flag hung (I fancied myself as a rebel). Deon said, “What is that doing there?” I meekly replied that “It’s just a decoration.” He looked at me with some disappointment and said, “It reminds me of hard times.” After campus security came and assisted Deon out of my room, I took down that flag.

    When I read about African-American VMI cadets expressing similar sentiments about the Stonewall Jackson statue, I am reminded about Deon and my Confederate flag so many years ago.

    • Thank you for sharing your story and perspective. I think Ezekiel would be glad to know the statue isn’t going to storage permanently, and it will certainly be different and interesting to see it in its new home at New Market.

    • Donald Smith says:

      What happens if African-American cadets express concerns about VMI honoring George C. Marshall? The U.S. Army was segregated in WWII. What if Native Americans object to honoring any VMI graduates who served in the U.S. Cavalry in the Indian wars? George C. Patton had a reputation as an anti-Semite?

      If we can only honor past heroes who meet all of today’s societal standards, we’re not going to have many heroes left.

  11. James Burster says:

    I wonder if Stonewall would be surprised that he is still feared?

    • Taylor says:

      From what I have read of Stonewall Jackson, I suspect he would not have been in favor of having a statue or monument of himself erected anywhere.

  12. Ccg says:

    The american talaband strikes again

  13. robertceltic says:

    The Democrats and their violent black shirts are destroying this countrys heritage, culture and history. Unless the American people put a stop to it, this country if finished.

  14. Dennis says:

    I just wanted to say I admired the superintedent’s remarks. They were measured and thoughtful of all involved. Great words to handle a sensitive issue. As for the statue, I don’t have an opinion on whether or not it should have been taken down, but I don’t think its removal from VMI’s grounds means the story of Jackson will no longer be told. His story and the story of the statue will still tell a story from another location.

    • Donald Smith says:

      How is it “thoughtful of all involved” to take the statue of Stonewall Jackson completely off the grounds of VMI? There wasn’t any other place on the grounds to put it? It had to be ejected from the campus completely? Rest assured that many of those included in “all involved” wanted Jackson’s statue to stay somewhere on campus.

      “I don’t think its removal from VMI’s grounds means the story of Jackson will no longer be told. His story and the story of the statue will still tell a story from another location.”

      Stonewall Jackson is one of, if not the, most prominent battlefield commanders associated with VMI. His exploits in the Valley Campaign and at Chancellorsville are legendary. And modern-day VMI can find NO place for him on its grounds?

      I can understand moving Jackson’s statue to a less prominent place. But, evicting it from the grounds entirely?

      This isn’t a healing moment. This is an in-your-face moment. OK, then. If, by “healing,” we mean erasing all symbols that irritate anyone, then we have a lot of erasing to do.

      • Dennis says:

        As an African American, I’m not necessarily bothered by the statue. But I do know that others can be. You have to understand that for African Americans, this isn’t just history, it is personal. Those feelings have to be balanced with others who see Jackson in a different way. VMI could have taken the statue down and placed it somewhere in storage, but they worked to find a place where it still could be viewed.

        I know that this causes you and others hurt. I am not for erasing history.
        But I think we also have to acknowledge those who may see this statue and others differently. How that is solved is something that has to be discerned, but the feelings cannot be ignored.

      • Donald Smith says:

        Please see my reply to Dennis, at the end of this thread.

  15. James Burster says:

    I’m guessing VMI is concerned about State funding?

  16. I’m glad they are simply moving it instead of tearing it down or destroying it – For Ezekiel’s sake. And I respect the superintendent’s words to calm the situation. It makes sense and this is definitely a new opportunity for interpretation and ultimately preservation (worse things could have happened to the statue in its former location and it’ll be protected now). I think it’ll also give more visitors a chance to see the statue. I’m sure VMI was open to statue-visitors before, but how many knew it? I didn’t. I figured I’d be shooed off the property or something, so I didn’t even consider it. Now it can be enjoyed by a new audience at New Market.
    Thank you for sharing Ezekiel’s story. Another Jackson quote that fits his life, “You may be whatever you resolve to be.”

  17. Donald Smith says:

    I categorically reject any argument that Stonewall Jackson’s statue HAD to leave the VMI grounds.

    I’ll stipulate that there’s a good argument for moving Jackson’s statue to a less prominent place on campus. He wasn’t a great teacher, as S.C. Gwynne’s biography of him, “Rebel Yell,” shows. He had his faults on the battlefield—e.g., he performed poorly in the Seven Days Battles. He was (to put it mildly) an eccentric. John Hay compared Jackson’s personality to that of John Brown. And, of course, his battlefield exploits were in support of a cause that would have continued slavery.

    But, to say that VMI cannot find a tolerable place on its grounds for Stonewall’s statue AT ALL is simply rubbish. Moving him totally off the grounds is a gutless act. It sets a terrible precedent. If Jackson’s statue has to be removed, from the institution where he is a major and inescapable part of its legacy—then what is next?

    VMI is not a private liberal arts college. It is supposed to create tough people, many of whom will lead American troops in battle. It is not supposed to enable people who are easily triggered by statues of long-dead generals. If I were a Chinese or Russian general, and read this story, I’d break out in laughter. It’s hard, if not impossible, to fear American commanders who could be triggered by a statue. “I would have thought that VMI graduates were made of sterner stuff,” I’d say, as my colleagues laugh. “I guess they make snowflakes there now.”

    Many of us will have to accept VMI’s decision here. VMI is a state school, and progressives currently run Virginia’s state government. But the people who chose to evict Stonewall Jackson’s statue from the VMI grounds, the people who couldn’t (or, actually, wouldn’t) come up with a solution that would keep it on the grounds, can’t insist that we respect this decision, or the people who made it.

    This is not a decision that commands respect. It looks as if VMI caved in to the SJWs. It smacks of cultural revenge, and a desire to “stick it” to the “Lost Cause” crowd. It will be seen by many as an example of urban progressives (who currently run Virginia’s government) rubbing it in the faces of the Lexington community (where many people still honor Jackson) and those of us with Confederate ancestors.

    That’s not healing. No one who wants to be taken seriously should pretend that it is.

    • John B. Sinclair says:

      I don’t disagree with your suggestion about seeking an alternative location on campus for the statue as a compromise. Point well taken. With due respect, however, I think it does a disservice to VMI African-American cadets/graduates to suggest as you do in your various comments on this topic that their beliefs are merely “hurt feelings,” that they are “snowflakes” or to denigrate their ability to be effective military commanders. I think you are underestimating them and not placing yourself in their shoes.

      • Donald Smith says:

        My comments about feelings were more in response to what Dennis has said on this thread, about the statue being hurtful to some people. If you read Dennis’ comments, emotion and feelings seem to be the “center of gravity” behind VMI’s decision here.

        In response to your assertion that I “suggest….that [African-American cadets’] beliefs are merely ‘hurt feelings,’ that they are ‘snowflakes,’ or to denigrate their ability to be effective military commanders.”

        I am commenting on the action that they, or people acting on their behalf, chose to take: remove completely from the VMI grounds the statue of the institute’s most noteworthy battlefield commander, because that commander held beliefs that we find abhorrent today, but were commonplace in his day.

        I would think that young men and women, who attend a school whose unique mission is to train leaders, should understand that Stonewall Jackson was a product of his time. They would take a “big picture” look, recognize that there are several sides to this issue, and come up with a solution that gives consideration to all sides. Removing Jackson’s statue completely from the grounds, and implying (as the Superintendent did in his remarks) that Jackson’s story would no longer be told on the VMI grounds, is not such a solution. It smacks of SJWs spiking the ball in the end zone.

        Where, in this decision, were the interests of those who respect Jackson taken into account? It seems that VMI gave the Heisman to those folks.

        Leaders have to understand that people will draw conclusions from their actions. My soldiers in Germany knew that what Lieutenant Smith did was much more important that what he said. And I knew that my soldiers would judge me based on my actions, no matter how nice my words sounded.

        VMI has left the impression that it cannot, or will not, abide the image of Stonewall Jackson on its campus anymore. It hasn’t really explained why Jackson’s statue (and apparently his legacy) HAD to go. Nowhere in the Superintendent’s statement—at least the one posted on the VMI website—does he explain why VMI couldn’t find a compromise solution. He just tells us it’s going, and VMI is moving on.

        As I see African-Americans discuss this issue, I keep seeing comments like Dennis’ above. Comments that go like (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Well, the statues don’t bother me, but they bother somebody.” Well, who is “somebody?” Who is so bothered by the Stonewall Jackson statue that they can’t be comfortable and flourish at VMI? When I was in the Army, I explained my decisions and I owned them. My soldiers expected nothing less.

        When Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he started it by listing all the reasons why the colonies felt compelled to separate from Great Britain. Where is the list of grievances caused by Jackson’s statue and legacy that compelled its removal? I’ve seen no such list. Rational people will then conclude that there might actually be no such list of objective, practical reasons for moving it. The only reasons we’re hearing are (possibly) hurt feelings.

        America’s heritage is racist by today’s standards. Very few Union solders were abolitionists, and hardly any wanted to see freed slaves as their neighbors in their hometowns. New Yorkers murdered African-Americans in the 1863 draft riots. Northerners and Southerners widely considered Native Americans “useless,” as Sherman described them in his autobiography.

        If ties to racism, again as defined by today’s standards, are grounds for disqualifying great leaders and institutions from being mentioned in “polite” society nowadays—-then America’s going to end up with a very vanilla heritage. Good leaders should know that. Is VMI creating leaders that will be able to accept America’s checkered past—or will they insist on sanitizing it? More to the point—do these leaders think that a majority of Americans will stand by quietly as the visible symbols of their past are carted away, because “someone” MIGHT be offended by them?

        If African-American cadets at VMI expect that people won’t draw conclusions about their judgement and reasoning from their actions, then we might want to relook the VMI curriculum. Or reconsider whether it still serves a useful function in today’s world.

        Many people will conclude that someone who is triggered by a statue is a snowflake. Of course, they will never say it out loud. But that’s the judgement they’ll reach. I’m sorry if you don’t like that. But that’s life.

  18. Donald Smith says:

    “It is an understatement to say the relocation of the statue has evoked strong opinions on both sides of the issue.”

    I see no evidence of a compromise, with those who held the opinion that Stonewall Jackson’s statue should stay on the VMI grounds. Those people who held that opinion appear to have been steamrollered here.

    You’re telling us that VMI couldn’t figure out ANY way to keep Jackson’s statue on grounds? If Jackson is so odious that his statue can’t stay, then don’t expect us to believe that modern-day VMI will honor his legacy in any meaningful way.

    That’s not compromise. It’s a naked exercise of power.

  19. Donald Smith says:

    I am responding to Dennis’ comment above.

    If the standard is that “someone’s” feelings could be hurt—then what historical figures can we still honor? It is always going to be personal for someone. Someone’s feelings will always be hurt.

    Are you telling us that African-American cadets at VMI simply could not tolerate having Stonewall Jackson’s statue ANYWHERE on campus? That’s the obvious conclusion to draw from what happened with Jackson’s statue.

    If the price we all have to pay for inclusiveness and tolerance is the purging from public places of any symbol that anyone in society might find objectionable—then we won’t have much of a heritage left.

    Tolerance, if it’s going to be real, works both ways.

    • CLARK BUCKNER says:

      People want to hear all sides, etc.,as long as they agree with them. So this is what it was like to live in 1860.

  20. New Market will likely be temporary. The battlefields will be purged in due time because removing a statue is cosmetic, and does not address deeper causes. But it is relatively easy and it makes people feel good. I am glad though it will have a home somewhere, since it is a fine piece of art. Other works of art and historical artifacts (or what Mother Jones would term “memorabilia”) will likely never again see daylight.

    I fear the Union generals who fought the indigenous and have their share of honors (Grant, Sheridan, Sherman, Howard, Custer, Miles, etc.) will increasingly come under fire. Troy Middleton, who played a major role in the Battle of the Bulge, had his name taken off of the LSU library and his bust removed, because he opposed desegregation. Even defeating the Nazis in their last gasp is not enough to protect you.

    The above by the way is not opposition to removals, but observations. We are witnessing a new moral order. Such orders, when created, always topple statues and rename things; Americans have little experience with this short of what was done to the natives. The ball though is rolling and cannot be stopped. I just wonder where it goes.

    The French Revolutionaries even dug up the bodies of dead monarchs, but it is telling that they did not mess with Turenne’s corpse. France after all was in a war, and they could use him as an inspiration of sorts. Napoleon for one closely studied his campaigns. As for the American military, given advances in cheap drone weaponry, missiles, cyber warfare, and submarines, combined with losing two wars in the last 20 years, recent wargames showing we cannot defeat Iran, China, or Russia, bipartisan purges of officers who do not toe the party line (Bush, Obama, and Trump have all done this), the navy’s current fondness for ship collision, and the ongoing cultural revolution, I do not place much faith in us winning any wars anytime soon. Unless we want to invade Grenada again.

    • Lyle Smith says:

      I tend to agree. Iconoclasm in Renaissance Europe did some damage and more recently the little Red Book movement in Mao’s China destroyed many priceless Chinese antiquities. Such a shame.

    • Donald Smith says:

      Actually, I don’t feel so bad about Jackson’s statue, after I read this:

      “The Falls Church School Board has voted unanimously to rename Thomas Jefferson Elementary School and George Mason High School. ‘Our schools must be places where all students, staff and community members feel safe, supported and inspired.'”

      So, Virginia secondary school students can’t feel safe, supported and inspired by attending a school named after one of the Founding Fathers? Especially the author of the Declaration of Independence?

      https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/419165/

      • In 2015 I wrote that Jefferson would never be touched. I was a fool. He will fall along with all the rest. What comforts me is that all statues fall. All things get renamed. The question is for how long.

        “I wonder what heaven must think of the people down here on this small black speck in the universe that is earth, for all their talk about the last few years—which are no more than a flash compared with eternity—being a ‘time of emergency.’ It’s really ridiculous.” – Isoroku Yamamoto

  21. Ryana Lynn says:

    How sad that VMI chose to forget where they come from. Stonewall may not have been the best teacher, but he was the best leader they ever had. A good, Godly man. As an amateur historian on the life of the General, this is heartbreaking to me. God bless Mr. Ezekiel for choosing such a worthy and honorable subject. It’s a shame to see both of them dishonored in this way. Just goes to show what happens when only one side of a story is allowed to speak: truth is lost.

    • Ben Watson says:

      You are so right. General Jackson was a Christian gentleman, a man of courage, character and honor. Unfortuneately, we are finding fewer men of such character in these corrupt times we are living in.

    • Donald Smith says:

      America’s most prominent African-American general, Colin Powell, demonstrated the importance of a leader placing him/herself on record, and laying out the reasons for making a hard decision.

      In the late 1980s I was an artillery lieutenant in Germany, in the Army’s V Corps. Powell commanded V Corps at the time. The corps was about to start a major winter exercise. Recently some soldiers had died of carbon monoxide poisoning on maneuvers. They had been sleeping in their vehicles with the heaters running.

      Powell ordered all soldiers on the exercise to NOT sleep in their vehicles. In Germany. In the winter. Even if our heaters were turned off.

      He knew that order would create misery across the command. So, he issued a videotaped message that all V Corps soldiers had to watch. In that message, he told us of the carbon monoxide deaths, and explained that that was the reason for his decision.

      To be honest, many of us ignored General Powell and slept in our vehicles anyway. But we all agreed that he had a good, objective reason for what he did. And General Powell recognized that American soldiers aren’t mercenaries. They expect their leaders to explain and justify hard decisions, on the record.

      What is the objective reason that Jackson’s statue HAD to leave VMI completely?

      Go to VMI’s website, and read the “Statement of VMI Interim Superintendent Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins ’85 on the Relocation of VMI’s Stonewall Jackson Statue.” General Wins does not explain why the statue had to leave. He does say this: “VMI is no stranger to change. Time and again over the past 181 years, the Institute has adapted and changed. Each time, we have become a better, stronger institution.” But, he doesn’t say why moving Jackson’s statue makes VMI “a better, stronger institution.” How did a statue of a long-dead general hurt VMI?

      General Powell knew his order would be unpopular. So, he addressed his critics directly and laid out the objective evidence that supported his decision. General Wins did not, when he placed himself on record. That will lead many people to wonder, and some to conclude, that the opponents of Jackson’s statue didn’t have enough good, objective reasons to justify its removal. If they had that evidence, they’d have laid it out. As Colin Powell did.

  22. Donald Smith says:

    In the interest of seeking common ground on this issue, I will lay out the reasons I would see, as justifying action being taken against Jackson’s statue.

    1) Jackson is too prominent a symbol of VMI. The Civil War ended 150 years ago, and America is a much different place. VMI should be known for its more modern heroes, like George C. Marshall.
    2) Jackson was a hero, even an idol, of the Confederacy. And, a cornerstone of Confederate society, economy and philosophy was slavery—arguably the blackest stain on the American experience. Jackson owned slaves and did not push for abolition.
    3) Jackson was idolized by the “Lost Cause” movement.
    4) Jackson was, to put it mildly, a flawed person. He was eccentric. John Hay said that Jackson had the same type of personality as John Brown—-and Hay didn’t mean it as a compliment. He often abused his subordinate commanders—ask Richard Garnett about Kernstown. To many VMI students, as an instructor, he was a figure of fun.
    5) His battlefield performances were not universally spectacular. Kernstown and Seven Days Battles come to mind.

    Personally, I could see moving Jackson’s statue to a less prominent place on campus, and even putting up signs explaining the flaws in his background and postwar reputation. But—and I suspect a majority of people would agree with me—those reasons don’t justify evicting him completely from the VMI grounds.

  23. Michael D Burske says:

    Disgusting! What does this accomplish?

  24. Robert says:

    Jackson was a strong Christian, a great general, and a good man. The fact that his statue was removed from VMI takes a lot of respect away from the school for confirming to socialistic ideals of forgetting history. I suppose thatby moving him to a battlefield it is better than putting it in a sewer treatment plant like they’re doing in other places in this country but it is still the principle of it. When history is forgotten, it is doomed to repeat itself and right now, I am seeing this nation forgetting it’s history.

  25. Tjboux &Melonie Johnson says:

    Everyone that bowed to this should be ashamed of themselves. You think taking away statues is going to erase any memories. When is Pennsylvania going to take down the buffalo shoulder at Gettysburg? It’s offensive to me. Let’s replace MLK with George Floyd. It’s part of all our history

  26. John Sheely says:

    So many statues to tear down and history books to rewrite……

  27. Pingback: When History is Wrong on a Monument | Emerging Civil War

  28. andy williams says:

    I enjoyed the article and it’s focus on Sir Moses Ezekiel. I was aware of General Lee’s encouraging Moses after he returned to the Institute and while Lee was President of Washington College. As a VMI graduate and a great admirer of Stonewall, I am disappointed by the removal of the statue.
    However, the eventual relocation to the New Market battlefield is far better then storage in a
    warehouse.

    It is fitting that the statue of Stonewall may overlook “The Field of Lost Shoes” where the Battle of New Market was fought and ten VMI cadets died and 47 where wounded. Many of these young men likely had been taught and drilled by the General.
    Jackson had his querks, but he was a christian who , though he owned slaves, loved the black man enough to teach a Sunday school class for mainly black children. Over 105 children were taught to read so they could read the bible and learn about the savng grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Andy Williams
    VMI ’65

  29. Douglas Pauly says:

    So my question is: what is Stonewall’s connection to New Market? There is an ongoing discussion on these boards titled “When a Monument Gets Its History Wrong”. There is also one about the same subject that has the term “cherry-pick” in its title. But they are about presenting ACCURATE history, and the placement of statues and monuments contributes to that, or doesn’t. The Battle of New Market happened well after Stonewall’s death. He has a legacy with VMI. He is among its most famous and noteworthy graduates, as well as instructors. His military operations and campaigns are studied around the world. He is BURIED in Lexington, VA, though the history-erasing zealots might have something ti say about that before too long! So again, what is historically ‘accurate’ about placing this statue at New Market? Hmmm?

    • andy williams says:

      Clarification.
      Stonewall graduated from the “VMI of the North”, West Point.

      He arrived at VMI in 1851 and was a professor of Physics.
      As you stated, Stonewall was not at New Market .He was buried in Lexington exactly one year earlier on May 15th 1863.

      There is no direct connection with New Market. But the symbolism of Jackson’s statue overlooking the field of battle where 257 VMI cadets fought, is worth considering.
      Many of the cadets were barely teenagers. Some had just turned 15. What makes the cadet’s participation memorable is that this was the only time in history, American or otherwise, that a college fought in an armed engagement.
      These boys became men under fire. In fact, there charge in the face of the Union artillery turned the tide of victory for the Confederates.

      The Union artillery was commanded by a West Pointer, Captain DuPont. DuPont was with yankee General Hunter one month later when Hunter arrived in Lexington,destroying many of the homes and buildings as well as burning VMI to the ground. DuPont’s artillery was responsible for the destruction of the Institute. However, DuPont was so impressed with the charge of the VMI cadets at New Market and feeling remorse as having been responsible for the destruction of the school , 36 years later as a US Senator, had Congress approve a bill to reimburse VMI, $100,000.

      And what transpired years later to these young boys who became men that rainy May day?
      57 became lawyers, 17 doctors, 19 engineers, 5 clergy, 15 legislators, 23 public officials, 17 educators, and 5 pursued the arts. At least 2 became inventors.Two of the educators were brothers from Texas that founded Texas A&M.

      Jackson spent much of his adult life (10 years) in Lexington as a professor and artillery instructor at VMI. I will miss his statue.on the parade ground,

      • Douglas Pauly says:

        You are so right. Good catch. I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote that about him attending VMI and graduating from there. I will let the rest of my post stand. But again, good catch!

  30. andy williams says:

    Comment on Donald Smith’s recommendation.

    Your suggestion on VMI focusing on the merits of it’s “more modern heroes like George C. Marshall” is an excellent point.
    Here are my reasons:
    If you really study the accomplishments of General Marshall during the 20th Century, you would be hard pressed not to agree with this statement, “George C. Marshall was the most important American of the 20th Century that few people remember”

    Why was Marshall so important for the cause of freedom in the 20th Century?

    As a “Junior” officer in WWI, he was primarily responsible for planning the most important American offensives, including the Meuse-Argonne battle that led to the ultimate victory for the Allies over Germany.
    On August 31st 1939, the day Hitler invaded Poland, President Roosevelt selected Marshall to be Chief of Staff, a position he held until the war’s end in 1945.

    As Chief of Staff, Marshall organized the largest military expansion in U.S. history.

    Time magazine named him Man of the Year in 1943

    From 1945 to 1947, President Truman selected him to be a special envoy to China .

    As Secretary of State from 1947 to 1949, he advocated rebuilding Europe, a program that became known as the Marshall Plan, arguably, the most successful US foreign policy ever.

    Marshall was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1953 because of the success of the Marshall Plan. This was the only time in history that a military person received this medal for Peace.

    After retiring as Secretary of State, Marshall became the chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission and President of the American National Red Cross.

    But his service was not finished, In 1950, Truman selected him as Secretary of Defense as the Korean War was unfolding

    I can refer you to a recent article in the “American Heritage” written by Mark C. Reynolds, “Finally, Recognition for George C. Marshall”.

    As I have mentioned to many of my friends, Marshall remains as the most important ” forgotten ” man of the 20th Century.
    .
    I will leave you with these comments from prominent men who had this to say about Marshall,

    “He was the greatest man I knew”, Harry S. Truman

    “He was the architect of victory in WWII ,Winston Churchill

    “George C. Marshall was a National Treasure”, Colin Powell.

  31. andy williams says:

    I invite those who want to know more about George C. Marshall to visit the web page of the George C. Marshall Foundation or google Marshall Moments.

    By coincidence, 76 years ago today, George Marshall became the first ever 5 Star General of the Army..
    In the spirit of full transparency, I am a Trustee of the George C. Marshall Foundation and would welcome your participation and interest in perpetuating the legacy of General Marshall. By that I mean, encouraging leadership of the selfless nature so emblematic of George C. Marshall.

  32. andy williams says:

    Reply to Donald Smith

    You mentioned that you served under General Colin Powell. You will be pleased to know that Colin Powell is part of the Advisory Board of the George C. Marshall Foundation. General Powell was awarded the GCM Award in 2003 for his service to the Nation.

Please leave a comment and join the discussion!