A Clayton man funded the Raleigh Civil War monument that’s the latest to be spray-painted with the words “Black Lives Matter.”
Police are looking for the person who vandalized the Women of the Confederacy monument, which sits on the State Capitol grounds downtown. A Raleigh police officer spotted the vandalism about 3:20 a.m. Tuesday.
Ashley Horne, a Civil War veteran from Clayton, commissioned the statue in the early 1910s to honor women who cared and grieved for their husbands and sons fighting on the front lines.
After state lawmakers failed to approve a bill to finance the monument, Horne donated $10,000 to have it erected. It was a gesture that won him “plaudits from the mountains to the sea,” according to a News & Observer article from 1911.
The words “Black Lives Matter” have been painted on other Civil War monuments in the Triangle, including the Silent Sam statue on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus and the Confederate memorial outside the old Durham County courthouse on East Main Street.
In addition to the Women of the Confederacy monument, police found the slogan painted in other downtown areas on Tuesday.
‘Greater soldiers than men’
Nearly a century ago, Horne’s desire to erect the monument came largely from his own service in the war. He enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861, serving with North Carolina’s 15th Regiment before transferring to the 53rd, where his brother, Sam, was a lieutenant.
After serving as a sergeant, mostly with Gen. Robert E. Lee in Northern Virginia, Horne was discharged in 1865. He was a state Senator from 1884 to 1885 and ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor in 1908.
“I have been thinking for a long time that the State would never build a Women’s Confederate Monument, and I being a soldier of Lee’s Army for four years, and seeing the work that the women of my State did in carrying food and clothing, and being in every battle that was fought around Richmond, and knowing that they were as great or greater soldiers than men, I have decided to build this monument myself,” Horne wrote in a letter to then Secretary of State J. Bryan Grimes on Dec. 12, 1911.
“The time has come in my life when I think no citizen of the State could think that I have any ulterior motive in so doing,” he added.
The statue was unveiled in 1914. However, Horne never got to see the finished product; he died in 1913.
Pam Baumgartner, a Clayton historian at Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library, said Horne saw firsthand the suffering of women during and after the war. Three of his six brothers died in battle.
Horne also knew how much women helped with the war effort, giving supplies and clothing to soldiers, Baumgartner said.
“He realized how much his community supported it and knew others did, too,” she said.
The Women of the Confederacy monument faces south on the south side of the Capitol grounds along West Morgan Street. It shows a woman seated next to a boy holding a sword.
Sculptor Augustus Lukeman designed the bronze figures, and Lincoln Memorial architect Henry Bacon designed the base, made of granite quarried near Mount Airy.
According to a 1912 News & Observer article, the New York Herald newspaper spoke with Lukeman about the statue after he had built a model of his design.
The artist said he was representing a “grandmother ... seated in a chair, and at her knee is her grandson, a lad of six or seven years, holding the sabre of his father.”
The grandmother, as the artist interpreted the design, “is telling the story of the lost cause without a hint of bitterness or malice.”
The N.C. House and Senate have approved a measure that would make it harder to remove historical monuments like the Women of the Confederacy sculpture.
After the Senate passed the bill in April, the House voted Tuesday to ban state agencies and local governments from taking down any “object of remembrance” on public property that “commemorates an event, a person, or military service that is part of North Carolina’s history.”
The bill was introduced long before the shooting deaths of nine black church members in Charleston, S.C., sparked a nationwide debate about Confederate symbols.
Rep. Garland Pierce, a Scotland County Democrat who chairs the Legislative Black Caucus, told House Speaker Tim Moore that scheduling the bill this week was “disrespectful” to the Charleston victims.
“This bill has been really divisive,” Pierce said, addressing Moore directly. “I really wish that we could have waited and not had this conversation for awhile.”
Moore noted that the bill “has somehow taken on a life of that” larger debate since it cleared the Senate. But the proposal “simply is what it is,” he said.
“We’re all the victims of circumstance in a lot of ways, Rep. Pierce,” Moore said.
Gov. Pat McCrory hasn’t said whether he’ll sign the bill, veto it or let it become law without his signature. But he did speak out against the most recent vandalism on the State Capitol grounds.
“One does not change the hearts and minds of others by damaging public monuments or private property,” McCrory said in a news release.