This is a state holiday that is shared by eight different southern states of North America. Confederate Memorial Day makes us remember the soldiers who fought and died or were wounded in this bloody American Civil War.
Please read on as I discuss more about this important day that helps us commemorate the fallen. And I will also show you how you can trace your military ancestors too.
Have you got any military ancestors?
Do you know whether you had any ancestors who were involved in this war or contributed in some way? If you are not sure then why not check out my Find Civil War Ancestors post where I review a great collection of digital guides that will help you.
If you do know then I would love to hear your story about your family’s history. So please comment below and tell me how you remember your ancestors on this special day.
Third Monday in January – Texas (also called Confederate Heroes Day)
Last Monday in April – Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi
April 26th – Florida (moves to Monday if April 26th falls on Sunday)
May 10th – North Carolina and South Carolina (moves to Friday if May 10th falls on Saturday; moves to Monday if May 10th falls on Sunday)
June 3rd – Louisiana
The Story Behind Confederate Memorial Day
The American Civil War saw an enormous loss of life with up to 750,000 dying in the four year war between 1861 and 1865. This number surprisingly was far more than the number of Americans who lost their lives in both the First and Second World Wars combined.
But what was this particular war all about?
There were two sides who fought against each other in the American Civil War. On one side was the Union and on the other was the Confederate States of America.
This confederate side was made up of eleven southern states who broke away from the rest of the United States. However, this Confederancy was never officially recognized.
The eleven confederate states were:
- South Carolina
- North Carolina
What was this war all about then?
I am glad that you asked. Basically it was all down to slavery and the abolishment of it. Before Civil War had broken out the North saw no slavery exist whatsoever. However, this was not the case in the South, where it was seen as both necessary and a part of life for the southerners.
Expansion to the western side of North America was still being explored. And so there were difficult political and social tensions between both sides as to how to tackle slavery in this new world.
There was already an uprising when Abraham Lincoln was nominated for the presidency of the United States in 1860. He opposed the expansion of slavery, and as a result of this seven southern states broke away from the Union even before he took office.
These states had various concerns, including political ideals, homes and property, the protection of their families, and also about economic loss.
And the war was fought for four long bloody wars!
And so war began on April 2nd 1861 at the sea fort in Charleston known as Fort Sumter in South Carolina. This is where Confederate artillery fired upon the Union garrison.
Watched by many spectators the fight lasted all day. Due to the supply line being cut off the Union surrendered the following day.
Incidentally the Union did try to take back the fort two years later on September 8th 1863. However, they were again defeated by the Confederates. But they did manage to reduce the fort to rubble in the battle.
The war effectively came to an end on April 9th when General Robert E Lee surrendered. This was followed by the surrendering and the capturing of other Confederate Generals.
The last ceasefire occurred on June 23rd 1865 when Cherokee General Stand Waite surrendered, ending the last significant fights between the North and the South. There were though naval forces on board the CSS Shenandoah who did not surrender until November 4th.
The following year on August 20th 1866 President Andrew Johnson signed a Proclamation declaring the end of the war and that peace and tranquility begin.
It is estimated that just over 2 million men fought for the Union whereas there was just half of that fighting for the Confederates. These battles took place in thousands of different places all over the southern states.
What Can You Do?
There are many different events that you can participate on this date to commemorate anyone who was affected by the American Civil War. There are ceremonies, church services, re-enactments of battles and also displays of relics from the war.
Despite many people commemorating this war and the people involved there are some that feel that this act glorifies a way of life that was only made possible through slavery. It is seen as promoting racism as it honors people who tried to protect slavery.
The result of this objection has seen many Confederate monuments and reminds being removed from public sight. These include Confederate flags and statues of Confederates.
Due to the many events that took place during these four long wars the fallen are commemorated on various days of the year. Please see the Special Dates section at the top of this post for a list of dates for the respective states that commemorate the war.
As this is a state holiday then state offices are generally closed. However, federal offices will probably be open as it is not a federal holiday.
It really depends on the state whether schools and businesses will be open or not. Also, there maybe some road closure or congestion near the site of battlefields.
Although this event in American history does bring up some strong concerns and emotions for many people I feel that we should commemorate the fallen and anyone affected by this war in some way.
You may wish to participate in a re-enactment or your more comfortable to just be a bystander. You may instead want to read up on the history of the war and look more closer into it than I could possibly do within this short post.
Why not discover your military heritage?
How about you look to find out whether your ancestors fought in the Civil War. Not only will you be able to discover ‘new’ ancestors along the way but you can preserve and pass down this information to generations to come.
The Ancestry website is a great site for you to start your journey. This popular genealogy search website has many military records for you to check and find your war ancestors.
But even if you do not find any war ancestors among Ancestry’s records there’s is a very high chance that you will find your ancestors among its billions of records.
And may I add you may also find distant cousins among the millions of members that have subscribed to this website. I wish you all the best on your family history journey.
Why not head on over to Wikipedia to find out more about this special day.
Thank You and Please Leave A Comment
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If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.