Driving & Walking Tours | Monuments | John Hunt Morgan in Kentucky | Fort Heiman
Harrodsburg, KY
43. Confederate Monument
Springhill Cemetery, Harrodsburg (Mercer County)
Granite figure and pedestal, 1902
Inscription (front of base): C. S. A. / Erected in memory of those brave men who gave their service to the South by Wm. Preston Camp No. 96 United Confederate Veterans and their surviving comrades and friends.
Inscription (rear of base): To fight in a just cause and for our country's glory is the best office of the best men.
Inscription (steel plaques in ground on all four sides of monument: verses from Theodore O'Hara's poem, The Bivouac of the Dead.)

At the unveiling ceremony in 1902, speakers addressed the righteousness of the Confederate cause and rejected the way that historians had been recording the War Between the States. The inscriptions on this monument base reflect these feelings, feelings that directed the creation of many of the state's Civil War monuments. A life-sized statue of a Confederate cavalryman stands atop the pedestal.

The figure is a likeness of Captain Gabe S. Alexander of the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry.

Beneath the figure, on the front of the pedestal, are relief carvings of the St. Andrews cross of the Confederate battle flag and a crossed sword and scabbard encircled with a wreath. On the rear of the pedestal, a relief represents the third national flag of the Confederacy, amid flying cannon balls and the smoke of battle.

The line of verse inscribed on the rear of the monument is from the famous poem, The Bivouac of the Dead, by Kentuckian Theodore O'Hara. Lines from this popular veterans' monument poem may be found on at least six other Kentucky Civil War monuments, in Cynthiana, Frankfort, Nicholasville, Mt. Sterling, Perryville, and Vanceburg (see the entry for the Confederate Monument at Perryville State Historic Site, #47, for more information).

harrodsburg1.JPG (16427 bytes)

Search for the flags of both the Confederacy and the Union. What is the history of these designs?

44. Beriah Magoffin Monument
Springhill Cemetery, Harrodsburg (Mercer County)
Zinc bust and pedestal, 1900
Inscription (front): Magoffin / Our War Governor Beriah Magoffin born April 15, 1815 Died February 28, 1885.
Inscription (south): "What attitude shall Kentucky occupy in the deplorable conflict looking to the constitution of the United States, the nature of our institutions and the causes of the war, I think Kentucky has a right to assume a neutral position."
Inscription (rear): "While opposed to the policy of the government and the measures used to preserve the constitution, we would not exchange the government of our fathers for any experiment on earth."
Inscription (north): Ann Shelby wife of Beriah Magoffin born August 15, 1818 died May 7, 1880. "My children are my jewels."

This marker is typical of both the material (cast zinc) and the "Lost Cause" sentiments of turn-of-the-century Civil War monuments. Dedicated circa 1900, several years after Magoffin's death, the monument features the pivotal words and beliefs of Kentucky's Civil War governor as he faced one of the most challenging periods in the state's history.

Beriah Magoffin was born in Harrodsburg in 1815. He studied law, then married the granddaughter of Kentucky's first governor, Isaac Shelby, and embarked on a career in politics. He was elected governor in 1859, but throughout his term, found his southern sympathies at odds with the legislators. Magoffin supported the institution of slavery and states' rights but rejected requests for troops from both sides, proclaiming neutrality on May 20, 1861. Although he supported the right of secession, he did not acknowledge the creation of the provisional government of the Confederacy. Unionists, who gained the majority in 1861, distrusted Magoffin, and he eventually agreed to resign in 1862.

The bust sits atop a highly ornamental and textured base with substantial inscriptions on each side. The governor's quotes, taken from the declaration of neutrality he posted in response to President Lincoln's official call for Kentucky troops, record the position that ultimately led to his resignation. The monument, erected several years after the governor's death, serves to honor his position and the sentiments that continued to be shared by many Kentuckians decades after the conflict. Magoffin is depicted like a classical Greek or Roman political hero, dressed in a toga with classical hair and beard style.

harrodsburg.JPG (13192 bytes)

This approach was often used by Neoclassical artists in Europe and America when depicting contemporary leaders a century earlier. The conventions had fallen out of favor long before this work was commissioned, but the style references depictions of our nation's great constitutional leaders, such as Washington and Jefferson.


Search for images of Neoclassical sculpture, particularly portraits (see artist Jean-Antoine Houdon). Compare these to ancient sculptures of political figures. How are these artworks, created nearly 2,000 years apart, similar? (Think about materials, style, details, feeling, and attitude.)

Back to Main Page

WMTH Corporation, PO Box 51153, Bowling Green, KY 42102