Confederate Memorial Day

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Confederate Memorial Day observance.jpg

Confederate Memorial Day, also known as Confederate Decoration Day (Tennessee) and Confederate Heroes Day (Texas), is an official holiday or observance day in a number of states in the Southern United States as a day to honor those who died fighting for the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War.


In the spring of 1866 the Ladies Memorial Association of Columbus, Georgia passed a resolution to set aside one day annually to memorialize the Confederate dead. Additionally, the secretary of the association, Mrs. Charles J. (Mary Ann) Williams was directed to author a letter inviting the ladies in every Southern state to join them in the observance.[1] The letter was written in March 1866 and sent to all of the principal cities in the South, including Atlanta, Macon, Montgomery, Memphis, Richmond, St. Louis, Alexandria, Columbia, New Orleans, et al.

The date for the holiday was selected by Mrs. Elizabeth "Lizzie" Rutherford Ellis.[2] She chose April 26, the first anniversary of Confederate General Johnston's final surrender to Union General Sherman at Bennett Place, NC. For many in the South, that marked the official end of the Civil War.[1]

Relationship to current national Memorial Day

In 1868, General John A. Logan, who was the commander in chief of the Union Civil War Veterans Fraternity called the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), launched the Memorial Day holiday that is currently observed in the entire United States. According to General Logan's wife, he emulated the practices of Confederate Memorial Day. She wrote that Logan "said it was not too late for the Union men of the nation to follow the example of the people of the South in perpetuating the memory of their friends who had died for the cause they thought just and right."[3]

States and dates observed

State Date Remarks
Alabama Last Monday in April[4][5] A state paid holiday. State offices are closed.[6]
Florida April 26 [4][5] When April 26 is a Sunday, it is recognized the following Monday.[6]
Georgia Last Monday in April [7] A state paid holiday. State offices are closed.[8]
Kentucky June 3[9] Jefferson Davis's birthday.
Louisiana June 3 [10][11] Jefferson Davis's birthday. Set by state law, Louisiana Revised Statutes 1:55
Mississippi Last Monday in April[12][13] A state paid holiday. State offices may be closed, at the discretion of the state agency or department heads.[14][15]
North Carolina May 10 [10] The death of Confederate General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson in 1863 and the capture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in 1865.
South Carolina May 10 [16] See remarks at North Carolina. (Like most other holidays, the observed date shifts to Friday if it falls on Saturday, and to Monday if it falls on Sunday.)[17]
Tennessee June 3[10] Jefferson Davis's birthday.
Texas January 19[10] Confederate Heroes Day. In 1973, the Texas legislature combined the previously official state holidays of Robert E. Lee's and Jefferson Davis's birthdays into a single "Confederate Heroes Day" to honor all who had served the Southern Cause. In some years, this date may coincide with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. State offices are partially staffed in recognition of this day.