LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Nutter monument reveals ‘history nearly lost to time’

In response to the letter to the editor on Aug. 23 by Joanne Cabry of the Progressive Democrats of Sussex County, “Confederate monuments affirm racism,”

I wonder — has she ever visited the monument at the Nutter Marvel Museum? If so, she would have a better idea of what she is objecting to — perhaps finding that she has no grounds for objection at all.

First — the obvious. The Delaware Confederate monument in Georgetown features two flag poles, upon which the Delaware state flag flies to its right and a variety of historical Southern flags on its left, currently the Confederate soldiers flag, aka the St. Andrew’s Cross.

The names of Delaware Confederate soldiers are inscribed upon granite pillars, as well as the names of Delawareans who supported the Confederate cause. Some are names of civilians who brought food to Southern soldiers imprisoned, suffering from neglect and want at Fort Delaware. The monument is modest in its historical simplicity. Glorifying? Bull.

What is being missed is the that it is a living monument revealing history nearly lost to time. Like the story of David Henry White. His story, like that of our shared history, is complex.

According to historical accounts, he was a person of color; a teen owned by a Union man from Delaware. The ship they were on, The Towanda, was captured by the CSS Alabama and Mr. White was taken aboard the Alabama where he served as a member of the Alabama’s crew, resisting multiple overtures while in foreign ports to leave the Confederate service, ultimately perishing off the coast of Cherbourg, France during the battle with the USS Kearsarge in late 1864.

The monument also serves as a reminder that Delawareans who served the Confederate cause returned to Delaware following the cession of hostilities and contributed to the good of their communities. For example, Washington Vickers. Vickers served as a field medic in the Confederate army, returning home to be instrumental in the founding of lifeguard savings stations along the Delaware coastline.

Through our research, history is being uncovered almost daily. Before the monument, conventional wisdom was that few — if any — Delawareans went South.

The Civil War Museum at Gettysburg battlefield declares there are no Delaware Confederates. After all, Delaware was a state firmly in Union hands.

However, through exhaustive research at the Delaware archives and the contributions of family members these men have been revealed, perhaps we will ultimately find as many as 2,000 of them. And their names will join the list of others on the monument.

Ms. Cabry‘s letter references patriot H.K. Edgerton who spoke at the monument unveiling event in 2007. Thank you for the opportunity to tell his story.

Mr. Edgerton did indeed serve as keynote speaker for the monument unveiling in 2007. As a 55-year-old man, he walked 1,300 miles from North Carolina to Texas with a Confederate flag to bring awareness to defending Southern heritage. He also marched in the 2008 Georgetown Return Day parade reciting “I Am Their Flag” while twirling the Confederate Battle Flag. He traces his ancestry to Confederate soldier Levi S. Carnine of Louisiana. Mr. Edgerton is an African-American, former head of the NAACP in western North Carolina.

The monument issue is far more complex, with more stories and history than could fit in a volume of books. The current debate sadly does not serve to bring us together or deepen our understanding of Delaware history. In fact, as various opinion polls reveal, the majority of people — including persons of color — do not want monuments removed and destroyed.

They understand that monuments are guideposts in history, a snapshot of days gone by that offer future generations an opportunity to learn who they are and from whence they came.

Robert Eldreth Jr.
Commander, Sons of Confederate Veterans
Delaware Division

 

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