Statues of Stonewall: Metairie Cemetery, NOLA

The latest in an occasional series, “Statues of Stonewall” 

As a Stonewall Jackson fanboy, I’ve made a habit of visiting sites and statues related to the dead Confederate general. But in all my years, one statue has eluded me: a statue of Stonewall that stands in Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans.[1]

My only trip to New Orleans came in the summer of 1988, well before I became hooked by with Civil War history. My subsequent Civil War adventures have never taken me back to the Crescent City, either. But earlier this month, thanks to a project I was working on with Kris White for the American Battlefield Trust, I finally had the chance to return to NOLA, and at the top of my personal bucket list was a visit to Metairie.

I finally “collected” the statue—and I managed to do so with some unexpected flair!

Jackson in New Orleans seems like an odd choice. He never visited the city. However, a number of Louisianans served under him in the Army of Northern Virginia, and their affection for “Old Jack” led to the decision to put a statue of Jackson atop their collective burial spot in the cemetery. More than 100 veterans of the ANV are buried there in a tumulus—a collective burial site covered by a large mound.[2]

The Jackson statue atop the ANV tumulus was dedicated on May 10, 1881—the eighteenth anniversary of Jackson’s death. Sculpted by Achille Perelli, the statue depicts a Jackson who keeps watch on his men. One veteran at the dedication said the portrayal rang true of a commander who, once upon a time, “through the weary hours of the night [who] stood ‘lone sentinel of that band of sleeping heroes’­—so now let that granite figure stand to guard ‘the bivouac of the dead,’ and the dust of heroes who sleep beneath that mound.”

What makes this particular statue different from others I’ve seen is that it does not stand atop a large pedestal but instead stands atop a 38-foot column. That column, in turn, stands atop the tumulus mound. That puts Jackson well above eye level—and, as any photographer has discovered, well above camera level. One must, literally, always look up to Jackson, whether one wants to or not.

And so I snapped my photos, happy for the chance to finally collect the last Jackson statue on my Statues of Stonewall list.

BUT…

Because Kris and I were working with a film crew, and because we had permission from the cemetery to fly a drone to capture video for the project we were doing, director and drone pilot Tyler Eichorst was kind enough to grab me a couple wonderful up-close images of the statue. I’m delighted to be able to share one of those images, with the magisterial Metairie “city of the dead” stretched out below and beyond. My thanks to Tyler for grabbing this shot for me—as a Stonewall Jackson fanboy, it meant a lot to me!

————

[1] And if you think it’s quite a feat that a statue has eluded me, considering the general immobility of statues, I invite you to consider how many statues have, in recent years, disappeared. They’re slipperier things that people realize!

[2] The Army of Tennessee also has a tumulus in the cemetery, topped by a statue of former commander Albert Sidney Johnston; former army commander P. G. T. Beauregard is buried inside.



11 Responses to Statues of Stonewall: Metairie Cemetery, NOLA

  1. Thank you Chris. Magnificent statue of Jackson. Glad you posted on his birthday too. Looking forward to your visit with us at the Louisville Civil War Round Table in March!

  2. Great article. I expected the equestrian statue of General Beauregard from New Orleans to be installed in this cemetery. It would have been a dignified resting place.

  3. Those veteran associations provided burial spots much the same as any benevolent associations, such as the Odd Fellows or Firemen’s associations back in the day. The tumulus (tumuli) in Metairie cemetery were places where impoverished veterans could be buried. In New Orleans, burials must be above ground. Those associations also provided methods by which funds could be raised to support impoverished veterans.
    Tom

  4. ‘Without hagiography, which would be a disservice to any human being, but with all the critical reflection his life warranted, we will remember and honor General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, the Pemulwuy of the South.’

  5. David, are you sure there isn’t? That’s a private institution. Or did the “Wokers “get there too? I’m waiting for them to start harping about the monuments from the South at Gettysburg!

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