Gettysburg: The Virginia Monument
Dedicated in 1917, the Virginia Monument was the first state memorial at Gettysburg National Military Park to honor Confederate soldiers. Union veterans originally did not want any Confederate monuments on the sacred battlefield, but attitudes changed as the bitterness of the conflict faded. In the 1890’s, the War Department began to mark the positions of the Confederate Army at Gettysburg.
Topping the Virginia Monument is a figure of General Robert E. Lee astride his favorite horse, Traveler. A native of Virginia, Lee commanded the Army of Northern Virginia at the Battle of Gettysburg. Over 19,000 men from his state participated in the battle, which was the largest contingent from any of the Confederate states. The site of the monument is also in the area where General Lee watched Pickett’s Charge on July 3, 1863.
Below Lee on the Virginia Monument are seven Confederate soldiers, representing various types of men who left civil occupations to join the Confederate Army. Of the 19,030 Virginians that participated in the Battle of Gettysburg, approximately 4,470 became casualties. Of the twelve states associated with the Confederacy that fought at Gettysburg, Virginia suffered the second heaviest losses.