First official monument honoring Tennessee Confederates unveiled
By Ed Hooper
SAVANNAH, Tenn. – More than 2,000 people
from across Tennessee and the south gathered at Shiloh National
Military Park for the official unveiling of the first official
Tennessee memorial to Tennessee Confederates who fought and
died at Shiloh. The event, which included a banquet the night
before in Jackson, TN, also marked the first time in more than
80 years that a state had erected a monument of this size in
a national park.
The 14-foot tall $250,000 bronze sculpture
called “Passing of Honor” was created by Pampa,
Texas artist G. L. Sanders. The sculpture depicts a sergeant
taking a Confederate flag from the hands of a dying soldier
while another stands guard over them. The artwork also features
eleven stainless steel stars representing the states of the
Confederacy. It sits on a black granite base and is adorned
with bronze plaques naming the Tennessee units that participated
in the battle.
“I can’t tell you what an honor
and privilege it was to be able to do this monument,”
said G.L. Sanders. “And I hope it will always mean something
to those who see it here at Shiloh.”
The unveiling ended what has been a 15-year
project to erect a monument to Tennessee’s Confederate
soldiers. The project was a joint effort between the Tennessee
Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Sons
of Confederate Veterans, state and federal officials. Jackson’s
John Ingram Camp is credited with finally pushing it forward
and getting the project off the drawing board and underway.
Past Camp Commander Jerry Lessenberry was one of the driving
forces behind the campaign and fought back tears as he finally
saw the monument unveiled.
“This has been a tremendous project for
us,” said Lessenberry. “I started on this 15 years
ago and it has taken the efforts and patience of a lot of people
to see that the sacrifices of Tennessee’s Confederate
soldiers are finally honored in a proper way. This is a beautiful
monument and we couldn’t have asked for a better artist
to do it. This should be in every National Military Park where
Tennesseans fought and served. I can’t tell you how overwhelming
it is to finally see it sitting in this park and know that the
memories of these brave men are not forgotten.”
Representatives from the Tennessee National
Guard Adjutant General’s Office, the legislature, members
of Congress and the state’s historical commission were
on hand for the unveiling ceremony, which was done by park officials
and local children.
Shiloh officials were surprised by the turnout
for the event.
“I wish we had printed more programs
and planned for this number,” said Shiloh NMP Superintendent
Woody Harrell. “I was told Rangers ran out of them within
a few minutes of handing them out. This was something I have
been working on since I first arrived here and am glad that
it is finally accomplished. I think the turnout today by people
and public officials shows how much and how many care about
Tennessee’s history and heritage as a state.”
The Tennessee Division of the Sons of Confederate
Veterans, reenactors and the Tennessee National Guard provided
honor guards for the ceremonies that marked Confederate Memorial
Day at the park. Reenactors kept a 24-7 vigil at the statue
until the tarp was removed.
During the ceremony, Tennessee Governor Phil
Bredesen and U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Franklin)
officially transferred the title of the monument over to the
national park service.
Governor Bredesen said it was an honor to be
a part of the ceremony adding that people need to remember what
happened during the Civil War by visiting and learning from
parks like Shiloh.
“This is a beautiful monument and I was
proud to be able to do this in my term as Governor. It is sad
that it’s a hundred years too late, but this is a fitting
tribute to the men who fought and served the state of Tennessee.
During my tour, the most surprising thing I learned is the fact
this battle was not fought on open fields as most people with
would assume from what they see and hear. This was more like
a “Vietnam” in the Civil War with the dense forests
Tennessee National Guard Brigadier General
David Greer from the Adjutant Generals Office was among the
officials in attendance and revealed the monument bore a personal
meaning to him.
“I remember visiting this park when I
was 12 and saw all these monuments and wondered why there wasn’t
any for Tennessee’s soldiers. My great-great grandfather
fought and was wounded here at Shiloh and to see him and those
brave Tennesseans properly honored for the first time is a great
thing. This was long overdue. I was just looking over the program
of the units here and found another grandfather’s unit
that was here, which was something I didn’t know and will
have to check out.” General Greer said.
The Passing of Honor monument is located off of Corinth-Pittsburg
Landing Road between the Confederate Burial Trenches. For more
information, you can contact Shiloh National Military Park at