Confederate Memorial (Heroes’) Day

Confederate Memorial Day is a public holiday observed in several southern U.S. states. The purpose of this holiday is to acknowledge and remember the estimated 259,000 soldiers, sailors, and marines of the Confederate States of America who died during the Civil War.

In Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, it is celebrated on the fourth Monday of April. In Mississippi, it is observed on the last Monday in April, and in the Carolinas (North & South Carolina), it is observed on May 10th. In Texas, it is observed on January 19th and is known as Confederate Heroes Day. This day is a state holiday in some locations and is merely an observance in others.

History of Confederate Memorial Day

Confederate Memorial Day can be traced back to Columbus, Georgia, in 1866. This is when the Ladies Memorial Association of Columbus decided to pass a resolution that would set aside one day out of the year to remember fallen Confederate soldiers, sailors, and marines.

After passing the resolution, Mary Ann Williams, the secretary of the association, penned a letter inviting ladies’ associations all over the south to join them in this annual observance. However, this holiday wasn’t officially known as Confederate Memorial Day at that time. It was known simply as Confederate Remembrance Day.

The penned letter was then sent out to what they considered the principal cities of the South. This included Atlanta, Montgomery, Macon, Memphis, New Orleans, St. Louis, and Alexandria.

The date for this holiday was chosen by Elizabeth Rutherford Ellis, who selected April 26th as the day on which the holiday should be celebrated. This day was chosen because it was the anniversary of Confederate General Johnston’s surrender to Major General Sherman.

On Confederate Remembrance Day, the ladies’ auxiliaries in each town would decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers. On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan initiated the practice of decorating Union graves, and this became known as Memorial Day to commemorate the Union dead. Soon after, the South named a Confederate Memorial Day to commemorate the Confederate dead.

Today, it is celebrated in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Texas.

A Timeline of When The Southern States Seceded From The Union

Confederate Memorial Day Customs & Celebrations

One of the primary activities practiced on Confederate Memorial Day is the placement of wreaths and flags on the graves of Confederate soldiers and at Confederate memorials. There are also numerous church services, picnics, BBQs, and parades on this day. Towns and universities in the states where it is commemorated may have lectures or presentations about the Civil War or engage in Civil War reenactments.

Where is it celebrated?
United States (State holiday) - Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, North carolina, South carolina, Texas
When is it?
This year (2024)
Next year (2025)
Last year (2023)