Remembering the Past
Many Tennesseans who had fought for the Confederacy were devastated by the loss. They had gone to war sure that victory would be theirs. When, after four years of war, the last Tennessee unit surrendered, many were disheartened.
The soldiers came back home and began to put their lives back together. Life began to return to normal for many people. But there was a desire by former Confederates to justify going to war and/or explain their loss.
Former Confederate generals, including Robert E. Lee, wrote about the “overwhelming resources and numbers” that the Confederate Army fought against. It would “be difficult to get the world to understand the odds against which we fought,” he explained.
Others begin to portray Confederate soldiers and their leaders as examples of old-fashioned chivalry. Memorial clubs were formed not only help former Confederate soldiers, but also to promote this idea of the Southern gentlemen going to war and only being defeated by the enemy’s superior numbers and equipment.
These clubs or groups included the United Confederate Veterans Association, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Tennessee Confederate Memorial and Historical Association.
Tennesseans also made efforts to memorialize the Civil War. Numerous state monuments and parks commemorating Tennessee’s Confederate history were erected around 1900. Since Tennesseans also fought for the Union, several Union veterans groups were also active in the state.
In Chattanooga Adolph S. Ochs was instrumental in memorializing several of the battle grounds surrounding the city. In Knoxville both the Union Soldiers Memorial and the National Cemetery and Confederate Memorial were both established.A reunion was also held in 1883 commemorating the service of Tennessee veterans of the Civil War. One newspaper noted that “The survivors of the First Tennessee Regiment held their annual reunion at the fairgrounds today…. A permanent organization was formed, and each survivor was presented with a medal.”
- Photograph entitled, “Confederate Reunion.” The image was created sometime after 1865 and shows a group of men and one woman standing in front of a banner. The banner reads, “Troop A Forest Cavalry Nashville Tenn.” Memphis and Shelby County Room, Memphis Public Library and Information Center.
- Photograph entitled, “Confederate Veterans Reunion Parade.” This parade takes place on Market Street in Chattanooga on July 4, 1890. Many parade participants are shown riding horses or marching and are followed by a long processional of carriages and streetcars. Onlookers stand alongside the parade while several businesses displaying American flags and banners can also be seen. Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library.
- Photograph of the “Confederate Soldiers Home” in Hermitage, Tennessee. This photograph was taken in 1910 and features numerous men standing in front of the building. The home serviced more than 700 veterans in its 41 year history. Nashville Room Historic Photograph Collection, Nashville Public Library.
- Photograph of Adolph S. Ochs. This photograph was originally created in 1933 and included in the Chattanooga Half Century Club scrapbooks. Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library.
- Photograph of the 28th Convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Tennessee Division. This photo was taken at the convention in Nashville, Tennessee in 1921. Tennessee State Library and Archives.
- Photograph of three Confederate veterans from Lauderdale County, Tennessee. One of them is Lewis Nelson, an African American volunteer for the Confederate States of America. The men are preparing to leave for a Confederate reunion in Memphis, Tennessee. Tennessee State Library and Archives.
- Photograph of the Confederate Veteran Co. B of Nashville, Tenn. The some of the men in this reunion probably served in the 18th Tennessee Infantry Regiment Company B. The drummer in the second row from the bottom is Walter Turner Hampton. Walter Noah Hampton is standing to the left of the drummer and Noah Jasper Hampton is standing at the drummer’s right. Tennessee State Museum Collection, 2008.132
Confronting the Modern Era >> Tennesseans at War >> Remembering the Past >>