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Fulton County's Confederate markers are staying put

Written by Ashley Books/Chambersburg Public Opinion | Aug 28, 2017 3:05 PM
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Photo by AP Photo/Danny Johnston

(Undated) -- When Kelly DeSalle thinks of the controversy surrounding the nation's Confederate statues, she thinks about what she learned in school. 

The 32-year-old Mercersburg woman said she was taught about the Civil War, what happened, what it meant - and why the country doesn't want this to happen again.

As racism continues to be in the forefront in America, individuals and organizations have lobbied to have different Confederate monuments removed and taken down. Most recently, protests have erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia which resulted in the covering of the town's Confederate statues after a woman died during the violence. According to USA Today, since then other Confederate monuments have been removed in San Diego, Los Angelos, Baltimore and New York. 

Many other Confederate monuments remain standing. Two of them are in Fulton County. 

The area has two markers to memorialize the Civil War era.

The first is six-feet tall monument and was erected in 1929 at the request of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in remembrance of two Confederate soldiers who were killed during an skirmish.

Glenn Cordell, a former secretary for the Fulton County Historical Society, said during the incident Union troops chased the Confederate troops away, but two were still behind. After a skirmish, the two troops were killed and the people from the town got the bodies and buried them. The Confederate troops that were chased away came and saw the burial, and looted the town but did not kill anyone or burn anything.

Today the marker is located on Pa. 16, just a half a mile southeast of McConnellsburg. 

The second is a limestone bronze history marker that was put up the following year in 1930, and was in honor of a meal the Confederate troops had in the area the day after the 1864 burning of Chambersburg.

According to Cordell, about 4,000 Confederate troops camped out on the south edge of McConnellsburg and then went into town going house-to-house looking for food. That night, locals fed the troops a meal and the next morning they left headed south toward Hancock. It is believed this was the last time the Confederacy camped south of the Mason Dixon line, Cordell said.  

The marker is currently located just one mile south of McConnellsburg on U.S. 522. 

These markers are unlike the many Confederate monuments and statues around the country in that they memorialize very specific historical events. 

DeSalle said she thinks Confederate statues around the country should stay up, because it is a reminder of the country's history, and in her mind "you learn from your history or you're doomed to repeat it." She said if they must be moved, take the monuments to a museum or somewhere else, but make sure there is a marker to memorialize the history. 

Donald Jones, a 59-year-old man who lives in Chambersburg, agrees that the statues are a part of the country's history, and thinks it's ridiculous there is even an issue.  

Jones said people seem to take offense to so much these days and they can find a way to justify getting rid of things, like Confederate monuments, they don't agree with.

"I don't understand it," he said. 

However, Susan Thomas, who lives just outside of Gettysburg in Liberty Township, said she feels that all military statues, not just Civil War statues, are only appropriate for military areas and battlefields - much like the monuments in Gettysburg - not public places. 

The 64-year-old woman also said that based on what she's read, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee - whom many statues honor - didn't want memorials, and instead wanted the battlefields plowed over, the sadness forgotten and the country reunited. 

"I think that those statues, where they are - in town halls, in parks, in front of schools and in front of courthouses - I don't think they were put there necessarily to honor Lee, as much as they were put there to honor the Confederate ideal," she said. "The idea that the south will rise again, the idea that the south had the right idea. I think there was a darker purpose for them."

However, Thomas also said if a town wants the monuments and statues, they should be left alone. 

"If they do want them to stand, then that's a whole other issue," she said. "I have very mixed feelings about groups coming in and destroying something that a town wants." 

There seems to be no controversy surrounding Confederate statues in McConnellsburg.

"These markers are well accepted," Cordell said.

Jones said he thinks the controversy over Confederate monuments is not an issue that will hit the county, because local people won't deal with it. 

"It takes one person to start a fire, and the fire won't get started here in Pennsylvania unless some outsider comes in and makes a big issue," he said. "Then you've got a lot of numskulls that's going to jump on the bandwagon." 

Although DeSalle said she has seen most people understand the history behind the nation's monuments, she is concerned the issue could eventually hit the area. 

"I do worry that there are some people who might take it a little past that extreme and start to target some parks," she said. 

 

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and Public Opinion Online.

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