Ladies' Memorial Association (LMA) is a type of organization for
women that sprang up all over the American South in the years after
the American Civil War. Typically, these were organizations by and for
wealthy white women, whose goal was to inter or re-inter the bodies of
Confederate soldiers and to raise monuments in their honor. Their
immediate goal, of providing decent burial for soldiers, was joined
with the desire to commemorate the sacrifices of Southerners and to
propagate the Lost Cause of the Confederacy. Between 1865 and 1900,
these associations were a formidable force in Southern culture,
establishing cemeteries and raising large monuments often in very
conspicuous places, and helped unite white Southerners in an ideology
at once therapeutic and political.
2 Cultural importance
3 See also
5 External links
Confederate Memorial Monument in Montgomery, Alabama
Ladies' Memorial Association (LMA) sprang up immediately
after the end of the Civil War in Winchester, Virginia, which had
suffered significantly during the war. Mary Dunbar Williams of
Winchester organized a group of women to give proper burial to
Confederate dead whose bodies were found in the countryside, and to
decorate those graves annually. In the summer of 1865, the
Winchester women appealed in newspapers for financial aid and soon
money began pouring in for the Winchester cemetery. Alabamians,
following an appeal by a Montgomery newspaper, were significant
contributors, and Stonewall Cemetery, Winchester, (named for
Stonewall Jackson) was opened in 1866. Within a year, according to
Caroline Janney, seventy such organizations had been founded
throughout the South. Another early cemetery was established by the
LMA of Wake County, North Carolina. The history of the Montgomery
LMA indicates that these organizations were part of a broader
movement: it built on the work of individuals and "Ladies Aid
Organizations" done during the war, and was given extra impetus by the
formation (by gentlemen of the city) of a historical society (toward
the end of 1865) and the news from other states (Mississippi) and
cities (Selma) of the formation of women's associations in early 1866.
After an emotional plea in the paper, "the women of Montgomery, in
answer to this call, filled the sacred halls of the old Court Street
Methodist Church on that beautiful Monday morning on the sixteenth day
of April, eighteen-hundred and sixty-six!"
In Kentucky, the Cynthiana
Confederate Monument Association raised the
funds for designing and installing the
Confederate Monument in
Cynthiana in 1869. It was the first Confederate monument of over sixty
American Civil War
American Civil War monuments in Kentucky.
In Montgomery, the LMA raised $10,000 for the Confederate Memorial
Monument on the grounds of the Alabama State Capitol, designed by
Alexander Doyle and erected in 1898. Monuments built by LMAs (on
cemeteries) often included sculptures symbolizing Johnny Reb, such as
in Petersburg, Virginia: "the statue of the soldier is of bronze, a
Confederate soldier, six foot high, 'accountred as a private of
infantry, a full cartridge box, lightly filled haversack, rolled
blanket, canteen and old slouch hat' that in the days gone by waved
the measure of the yell of 'Johnny Reb.'--the fiercest war-cry that
ever smote a foeman's ear."
In Athens, Georgia, Laura Rutherford had headed a soldier's aid
society. After the end of the Civil War, she converted that into a
chapter of the LMA. When she died in 1888, her daughter, Mildred Lewis
Rutherford became president for life of the chapter.
In early 1866, the Soldiers' Aid Society of Columbus, Ga. reorganized
themselves into the Ladies Memorial Association of Columbus. They
elected Evelyn Carter as president; Margaret Ware, first Vice
President; Mrs J. A. McAllister, second Vice President; Martha Patten,
Mary Ann Williams
Mary Ann Williams as corresponding secretary. Mrs.
Williams wrote a letter urging Southern women to come together on
April 26, 1866 to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers with
flowers. The letter was printed in newspapers across the south. In The
Genesis of the
Memorial Day Holiday in America, Bellware and Gardiner
showed just how widely the letter was published. The ladies responded
Memorial Day holiday in the United States was inaugurated.
It takes its name from the Ladies Memorial Associations that organized
the observances. Two years later, on May 5, 1868, John A. Logan,
Commander-in-Chief of the
Grand Army of the Republic
Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), commanded
all posts across the country to decorate Union graves with flowers on
May 30. Thereafter, the April holiday became known as Confederate
Memorial Day. The May 30 holiday was commonly known as both Decoration
Day and Memorial Day. The GAR officially adopted the name Memorial Day
at their 1882 encampment.
Because they were women's organizations, and since women were
generally considered to be non-political beings, Southerners soon saw
the benefit of these organizations, which were able to propagate the
Lost Cause of the Confederacy
Lost Cause of the Confederacy without being treasonous to the US
government. Women in the LMAs, according to Janney, "expand[ed] on two
trends that had developed during the war: the creation of an organized
womanhood among southern white women and a sense of white southern
solidarity among ex-Confederates." LMAs, along with other women's
organizations, also aided in the care for and repatriation of
Confederate veterans. The movement for which they provided the
first impetus is referred to as the "Confederate Memorial
The popularity of these organizations was helped by what was perceived
as a lack of respect on the US government's part for Southern dead.
Starting in 1866, scouts were sent out from the North to retrieve
Union soldiers' bodies for burial in United States National Cemetery,
from which Confederate soldiers were excluded. Other cities soon
followed Winchester's example and many chapters are still active, such
as in Montgomery (founded 1866) and Fredericksburg, Virginia
In May 1900, the different memorial associations of all the Southern
states had their first national meeting, in Louisville, Kentucky,
where officers for a national organization were chosen. Their
historian, Margaret Cary Green Davis, outlined the goals of the
To future generations of the people of the South and to the sons and
daughters of the women of the Confederacy, who first banded themselves
together in memorial work, may this Confederation carry its messages
and legacy of devotion to the memory of a Cause and the heroes who
fought for it, the Deathless Dead of the Southern Confederacy.
While LMAs provided an opportunity for Southern white women to express
their dedication to the Lost Cause and at the same time allowed those
women to organize in ways did not threaten the male establishment,
they also helped resurrect Southern masculinity, according to LeeAnn
Whites: the men who had been forced to give up the traditional
Southern male prerogatives of "slaveownership and regional dominance"
could now "reconstruct" and "valorize themselves by honoring the
greater sacrifice of the Confederate Dead." Thus, their function
was therapeutic in respect to the psychological trauma suffered as a
result of the Confederacy's loss; at the same time, while "ostensibly
apolitical", they acted on public policy by "advancing and refining
the Confederate tradition and reinforcing the political and social
hierarchy they believed in....these women accomplished what their
overtly political men could not. Remaining above the political fray
yet skillfully navigating difficult political situations, they
repeatedly gained state support in establishing their version of
history as the official public memory." The promotion of public
commemoration and the establishment of a Confederate memory by
organizations such as the LMAs took place in a world in which the
now-public presence of African Americans caused great anxiety,
suggesting, according to some scholars, a "more purposeful strategy of
racism". While much credit is usually given to the United
Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) for "transform[ing] military defeat
into a political and cultural victory, where states' rights and white
supremacy remained intact", authors such as Janney have argued that
LMAs did so long before the UDC was founded in 1894.
^ a b Janney, Burying the Dead But Not the Past, p. 39.
^ "Mount Hebron Cemetery – Winchester, Virginia". Retrieved 24
^ Janney, Burying the Dead But Not the Past, pp. 43–44.
^ Bishir, Monuments to the Lost Cause, p. 3.
^ Cory, The
Ladies' Memorial Association of Montgomery, Alabama, pp.
25–47; quote on p. 47.
^ Napier, Cameron Freeman (4 May 2009). "Ladies Memorial Association".
Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
^ Confederated Southern Memorial Association, History of the
Confederate Memorial Associations, p. 290.
^ Case, Georgia Women, p. 282.
^ "History of Confederated Memorial Associations of the South p. 123".
Google Books. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
^ Bellware, Daniel. "Genesis of the
Memorial Day Holiday in America".
Amazon.com. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
^ "Robert Beath, The Grand Army blue-book containing the rules and
regulations of the
Grand Army of the Republic
Grand Army of the Republic and decisions and
opinions thereon... Philadelphia: Grand Army of the Republic, 1884, p.
118". Google Books. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
^ a b Janney, Burying the Dead But Not the Past, p. 40.
^ Janney, Burying the Dead But Not the Past, p. 43.
^ Whites, The Civil War as a Crisis in Gender, p. 165.
^ Janney, Burying the Dead But Not the Past, pp. 45–46.
Ladies' Memorial Association of Montgomery". The Ladies'
Memorial Association of Montgomery. 2009. Retrieved 24 January
Ladies' Memorial Association and the Fredericksburg Confederate
Cemetery". Retrieved 24 January 2012.
^ Confederated Southern Memorial Association, History of the
Confederate Memorial Associations, p. 31.
^ Whites, The Civil War as a Crisis in Gender, p. 167.
^ Bishir, Monuments to the Lost Cause, p. 23.
^ Brown, Reconstructions, pp. 224–225.
^ Janney, "The Right to Love and to Mourn", p. 184.
Bishir, Catherine W. (2003). "'A Strong Force of Ladies': Women,
Politics, and Confederate Memorial Associations in Nineteenth-Century
Raleigh". In Cynthia Mills, Pamela Hemenway Simpson. Monuments to the
Lost Cause: Women, Art, and the Landscapes of Southern Memory. U of
Tennessee P. ISBN 9781572332720. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
Brown, Thomas J. (2006). "Civil War Remembrance as Reconstruction".
Reconstructions: New Perspectives on the Postbellum United States.
Oxford UP. pp. 206–20. ISBN 9780195175950. Retrieved 26
Case, Sarah (2009). "
Mildred Lewis Rutherford
Mildred Lewis Rutherford (1851–1928) The
redefinition of New South White Womanhood". In Ann Short Chirhart
& Betty Wood. Georgia Women: Their Lives and Times. Athens,
Georgia: University of Georgia Press. pp. 272–296.
Cory, Marylou Armstrong (1902). The
Ladies' Memorial Association of
Montgomery, Alabama: its origin and organization, 1860–1870. Alabama
Janney, Caroline E. (2006). "'The Right to Love and to Mourn': The
Origins of Virginia's Ladies Memorial Associations, 1865–1867". In
Edward L. Ayers. Crucible of the Civil War: Virginia from Secession to
Commemoration. Gary W. Gallagher, Andrew J. Torget. U of Virginia P.
pp. 165–88. ISBN 9780813925523. Retrieved 26 January
Janney, Caroline E. (2008). Burying the Dead But Not the Past: Ladies'
Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause. U of North Carolina P.
ISBN 9780807831762. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
Confederated Southern Memorial Association (1904). History of the
Confederated Memorial Associations of the South... The Graham Press.
Retrieved 24 January 2012.
Whites, LeeAnn (2000). The Civil War as a Crisis in Gender: Augusta,
Georgia, 1860–1890. U of Georgia P. ISBN 9780820322094.
Retrieved 24 January 2012.
Bellware, Daniel, & Richard Gardiner, PhD. (2014). The Genesis of
the Memorial Holiday In America. Columbus State University.
"Ladies Memorial Associations" on the Encyclopedia of Virginia
"Ladies Memorial Association" on the Encyclopedi