Confederate Memorial Day
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Confederate Memorial Day, also known as Confederate Decoration Day (Tennessee) and Confederate Heroes Day (Texas), is an official holiday and/or observance day in parts of the U.S. South as a day to honor those who died fighting for the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. Nine states officially observe Confederate Memorial Day: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
In the spring of 1866 the Ladies Memorial Association of Columbus, Georgia passed a resolution to set aside one day annually to memorialize the Confederate dead. Additionally, the secretary of the association, Mrs. Charles J. (Mary Ann) Williams was directed to author a letter inviting the ladies in every Southern state to join them in the observance. The letter was written in March of 1866 and sent to all of the principal cities in the South, including Atlanta, Macon, Montgomery, Memphis, Richmond, St. Louis, Alexandria, Columbia, New Orleans, et al.
The date for the holiday was selected by Mrs. Elizabeth Rutherford Ellis. She chose April 26, the first anniversary of Confederate General Johnston's final surrender to General Sherman at Bennett Place, NC. For many in the South, that marked the official end of the Civil War.
On April 26, 1866, tens of thousands of Southern women commemorated the first Confederate Memorial Day. Some, however, in the northernmost portions of the South did not participate because their flowers were not yet in bloom. Consequently, they selected dates later in the spring to hold their first Confederate Memorial Days. For example, parts of Virginia chose May 10, commemorating Stonewall Jackson's death. Near Petersburg, VA, they chose June 9, the anniversary of a significant battle there. Others opted for Jefferson Davis' birthday, June 3.
To the present, Southern states continue to have Confederate Memorial days. Though most are still on April 26, others continue to be later in the year.
Relationship to current national Memorial Day
In 1868, General John A. Logan, who was the commander in chief of the Union Civil War Veterans Fraternity called the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), launched the Memorial Day holiday that is currently observed in the entire United States. According to General Logan's wife, he emulated the practices of Confederate Memorial Day. She wrote that Logan "said it was not too late for the Union men of the nation to follow the example of the people of the South in perpetuating the memory of their friends who had died for the cause they thought just and right."
States and dates observed
|Alabama||Fourth Monday in April||The surrender of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston to Union General William Sherman on April 26, 1865.|
|Arkansas||Third Monday in January||Robert E. Lee's birthday (state holiday combined with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day).|
|Florida||April 26||See remarks at Alabama.|
|Georgia||April 26||See remarks at Alabama.|
|Kentucky||June 3||Jefferson Davis's birthday.|
|Louisiana||June 3||Jefferson Davis's birthday. Set by state law, Louisiana Revised Statues 1:55|
|Maryland||First Saturday of June|
|Mississippi||Last Monday in April||See remarks at Alabama.|
|North Carolina||May 10||The death of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson in 1863 and the capture of Confederate president Jefferson Davis in 1865.|
|Pennsylvania||Second Saturday in May||Observed by the Pennsylvania Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.|
|South Carolina||May 10||See remarks at North Carolina.|
|Tennessee||June 3||Jefferson Davis's birthday.|
|Texas||January 19||Confederate Heroes Day. In 1973, the Texas legislature combined the previously official state holidays of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis' birthdays into a single "Confederate Heroes Day" to honor all who had served the Southern Cause. In some years, this date may coincide with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. State offices are partially staffed in recognition of this day.|
|Texas||April 26||Confederate Memorial Day. Texas' official holiday is named Confederate Heroes Day and is celebrated on January 19. However, many local communities and Southern historical organizations within the state also observe a separate "Confederate Memorial Day" on April 26.|
|Virginia||Last Monday in May||Memorial Day.|
- Confederate Memorial Day.
- History of Confederate Memorial Day
- History of Confederate Memorial Day
- Mrs. John A. Logan, Reminiscences of a Soldier's Wife, p. 246.
- Alabama State Code.
- Arkansas Secretary of State Charlie Daniels.
-  "The 2010 Florida Statutes (including Special Session A)", Retrieved 2011-07-25
- City Data.
- Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Mississippi Secretary of State.
- SC Code of Laws.