Confederate Memorial Day is a public holiday which is 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 during 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 just 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 William – the secretary of the association – penned a letter inviting lady 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 a Confederate Remembrance Day.
The penned letter was then set 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 chose 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 lady auxiliaries in each town would decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers. On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan began 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
- December 20, 1860-South Carolina
- January 9, 1861-Mississippi
- January 10, 1861-Florida
- January 11, 1861-Alabama
- January 19, 1861-Georgia
- January 26, 1861-Louisiana
- February 1, 1861-Texas
- April 17, 1861-Virginia
- May 6, 1861-Arkansas
- May 20, 1861-North Carolina
- June 8, 1861-Tennessee
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 Confederate memorials. There are also a number of church services, picnics, BBQs and parades on this day as well. Towns and Universities in the states in which it is commemorated may have lectures or presentations about the Civil War or engage in Civil War re-enactments.