The Battle of Nashville Monument: A Symposium
Thurs., Nov. 5 and Fri., Nov. 6, 1998

 

Commemorating the Civil War and the Great War


Dr. Fitzhugh Brundage, Dr. Vivien Fryd, and David Currey

"Commemorating the Civil War and the Great War" was the topic of discussion by Dr. Fitzhugh Brundage, University of Florida history professor; Dr. Vivien Fryd, Vanderbilt University professor of fine arts; and David Currey, history instructor at Middle Tennessee State University and president of Southern Historical Associates.

Dr. Brundage spoke to the movement among white women in the 1890s and early 1900s to preserve history and serve as "guardians of the past." This was demonstrated by the construction of the Battle of Nashville Monument, spearheaded by Mrs. James Caldwell and the Ladies Battlefield Association. In an age of public demonstrations of masculinity, "history became the instrument of self-definition for women. Women could give meaning to the past and lay claim to a new source of cultural authority," he said.

Dr. Fryd, who has recently researched the history of the monument, noted that it is unique among war memorials in that it does not display any "trappings of war" and pays homage to not only the men who fought in the Civil War but to those who fought in the Spanish-American War and the Great War (World War I).

"War damages the traditional cultural order," declared Currey, who remembered growing up with the monument. The North wanted to remember the war as a fight to restore the Union, while blacks want to emphasize emancipation. The South wanted to remember the personal character of the people involved in the war, a trait being overshadowed by industrialization. Eventually, even Northerners came to understand this motivation, he noted.

 

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