Confederate History Month takes place in April. It is an observance honored by several Southern U.S. states to honor and recognize the history of the Confederate States of America. It also commemorates the fallen Confederate soldiers of the American Civil War. While Confederate issues have become points of contention in the current landscape, the goal of the holiday is to recognize the history that has shaped the Southern identity.
History of Confederate History Month
Between 1861 and 1865, the United States bore witness to the Civil War. It was fought between the Northern Union states and the Southern states, which made up the Confederate States of America. Whilst the reasons for the war ranged from economic factors to the extent of federal control, the main issue revolved around slavery. When Abraham Lincoln was elected to the Presidency in 1861, he sought to oppose slavery in the United States. This was not met well by Southern states, which relied on primarily African-American slaves for economic purposes and cultural reasons.
Several Southern states would secede from the Union in protest in 1861, establishing the Confederate States of America. Constant tensions between the two sides reached a breaking point in April 1861 following the Battle of Fort Sumter, regarded as the battle which started the Civil War.
For four years, both sides fought against each other in a spectacular conflict that resulted in a Union victory. The result was the deaths of around 2% of the country’s population by its end in 1865. To preserve and honor Confederate history, feared to be in danger of being forgotten due to their historical loss, various Southern U.S. states would later designate the month of April as Confederate History Month in 1994. The aim was to celebrate the history that integrally shaped their cultural heritage.
Due to the contentious nature of the theme, Confederate History Month is recognized regularly in only five states today, namely Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. Other states such as Georgia and Virginia used to celebrate it regularly.
Confederate History Month timeline
The state of South Carolina moves to secede from the Union, protesting newly- elected President Abraham Lincoln's platform of opposing slavery in the United States.
The states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia gradually secede from the union in January, forming the Confederate States of America.
The Battle of Fort Sumter in South Carolina on April 12 marks the beginning of the four-year-long American Civil War.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders his Confederate troops to the Union in Virginia, signaling the end of the war.
Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia officially designate the first Confederate History Month.
Confederate History Month FAQs
Why is the Confederacy celebrated?
The Confederacy is celebrated as a significant piece of Southern U.S. identity that distinguishes them from their neighbors in the North. It also gives those who fell in the name of the Confederacy a source of pride for the states who lost the Civil War.
Why are Confederate symbols controversial?
Modern and public displays of Confederate symbols are controversial today because they are widely associated with slavery, racism, and white supremacy. Most notably, several U.S. states have banned the public display of the iconic Confederate Battle Flag and many statues of Confederate icons have been taken down.
Are there other Confederacy holidays?
Various Southern U.S. states celebrate Confederate Memorial Day on various days in the first half of the year, specifically to remember the fallen Confederate soldiers. There is also Robert E. Lee Day on January 16, currently only observed in Alabama and Mississippi (and Florida on January 19), commemorating the birthday of the Confederate general.
How to Observe Confederate History Month
Fly the (American) flag
Flying the Confederate flag has been banned, including in some Southern states. Flying the Old Glory is an appropriate alternative since it is a day that commemorates a memorable chapter of American history.
Attend memorial services
If you're in the South, your local community might be hosting memorial services in churches or cemeteries that hold the remains of Confederate soldiers. Here you can pay your respects to the fallen.
Watch a movie
There are a lot of films for you to see that showcase both the Confederate culture and the history of the Civil War. The most notable of them are “Gone With the Wind,” “Gettysburg,” “Glory,” and Ken Burns's “The Civil War” documentary series.
5 Interesting Facts About The Civil War
The deadliest American war
The Civil War claimed the lives of over 620,000 soldiers and is the deadliest American war in terms of casualties.
African-Americans also fought for the Confederacy
Roughly 3,000 to 10,000 African-Americans fought in the war as Confederate soldiers, along with around 20,000 to 50,000 employed as laborers.
Every day was a battle
Up to 10,500 military engagements took place during the Civil War, meaning there was at least one battle going on every day.
General Lee's Role in Arlington Cemetery's creation
Arlington National Cemetery, the largest U.S. military resting place, was founded on the site of what used to be the home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
The last survivors
The last verified Union Army veteran, Albert Woolson, died in 1956, while the last verified Confederate veteran, Pleasant Crump, died in 1951.
Why Confederate History Month is Important
It ensures that future generations remember the history
The commemorations ensure that the history of the Confederacy remains known throughout the generations. This is important in fueling the awareness for future generations to be aware of who they are and how they came to be.
It honors those who fought for their cause
Confederate History Month moves to not only honor the Confederate heritage. It also pays tribute to the Confederate soldiers who died in the war and fought for the sake of their cultural identities. It follows the notion that “all fallen should be remembered”.
A reflection for Southern U.S. states
The commemorations act as a form of reflection for the Southern U.S. states to learn from the lessons of history going forward. There is much to learn from Confederate history that can be used by local U.S. governments to construct better futures for their people.
Confederate History Month dates