For the Civil War buff, a monumental book

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 22, 2013

“North Carolina Civil War Monuments: An Illustrated History,” by Douglas J. Butler. McFarland. 2013. 2722 pp. $39.95.
Although it came out this spring, “North Carolina Civil War Monuments” is an any-time of year gift for you or your favorite Civil War buff.
It’s a very thorough account of the various monuments built to honor the fallen of the war, from the simple obelisks to the metal soldier standard statue that could be ordered from a metalsmith, to the more involved sculptures like Salisbury’s Fame.
Salisbury warrants several mentions in the book, not just for Fame, but for the numerous monuments in the original National Cemetery and the Old English Cemetery.
This is not a picture book, though it contains many, many black-and-white photos of the various monuments. It is, as the title suggests, a history, telling when the first monuments were erected — 1868 in Cumberland County, made of Italian marble and in a Fayetteville cemetery. It took some time for the monuments to go up. The South was largely broke following the war, and though sentiment was strong, funds were short.
As time passes, groups such as the United Daughters of the Confederacy become the fundraising and promotional part of erecting monuments, and author Douglas J. Butler dedicates chapters to the Daughters and to financing.
Butler’s chapters don’t follow a chronology, but certainly a process, such as “Dedication Day,” “Soldier Statues,” “Monument Companies,” “Poetry and Prose” on the statues.
Butler brings the monument action through the years to 1961, when the building of such commemorations slowed down due to changing cultures and time.
As if his details in the main part of the book were not enough, Butler helpfully includes two appendices, one on Confederate monuments and one on Union monuments, in charts that provide at-a-glance information.
There’s an extensive section of chapter notes, a full bibliography and an index.
The book reads, at times, like a novel, and could serve as a traveler’s guide as well as a source for people who can never get enough information about the Civil War.
The book is available in bookstores, online and direct from the publisher, or 800-253-2187.