A Civil War monument praising the “valor” of both sides in the conflict will be permanently removed from Buckhead’s Piedmont Atlanta Hospital campus in the wake of renewed controversy nationwide over statues and other displays honoring the Confederacy.
The monument was removed from the 1968 Peachtree Road campus in 2017 for construction on a new tower and other facilities. During a previous round of Confederate controversy that year, Piedmont Healthcare said the monument would be reinstalled once construction was complete this year. But the healthcare system now says the monument will not be coming back.
“Piedmont Healthcare is listening to our team through many courageous conversations to hear their concerns and to learn from their experiences related to race relations in our country and workplace,” said spokesperson John Manasso in a written statement. “Out of respect to our employees and the communities we serve, we have no intention of reinstalling the monument. While it is currently in storage, we will eventually have it removed from the Piedmont Atlanta campus.”
Asked where the monument might end up, he said, “I would say that is to be determined.”
The large stone monument refers to the Battle of Peachtree Creek, which took place on what is now the hospital campus and surrounding area as the Union fought to seize Atlanta. An inscription on the monument reads, “This memorial to American valor is dedicated to the participants in the Battle of Peachtree Creek, July 20, 1864, on this, the 80th anniversary of the first of the four conflicts for the possession of Atlanta.”
The monument was erected by the Atlanta Historical Society, which is now the Buckhead-based Atlanta History Center. And the History Center has a different view of such monuments today, saying they are part of the “Lost Cause” myth that downplays the role of slavery as a cause for the Civil War and the post-war “Reconciliation” period when Northern and Southern groups emphasized national unity while allowing segregation and related racist laws.
The monument, like most of its kind, date to the “Jim Crow” segregation period of 1877 through the 1950s, when they were part of an effort to emphasize white supremacy, the History Center says in a “Confederate Monument Interpretation Guide” it issued in 2015 in the wake of a racist mass murder at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.
The History Center advocates keeping Confederate-honoring monuments in place, but adding signs to contextualize them. That tactic was adopted by the city of Atlanta following a 2017 commission on Confederate memorials. Among the monuments that received a contextual sign was another one in Buckhead, on Peachtree Battle Avenue, similarly honors the “American valor” of both sides in the Civil War and refers to the “common heritage” of warring troops.
In that same program, contextual signs were added to monuments in Piedmont Park and Oakland Cemetery. One of them, the “Lion of Atlanta” sculpture at the cemetery, has been the target of recent vandalism.
The renewed attention on Confederate symbols was sparked by nationwide and local protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota and several other black people in other parts of the country.
The city of Sandy Springs is the midst of a proposal to rename Lake Forrest Drive, which extends into Buckhead, due to an unconfirmed theory that it is named in honor of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and early leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Sandy Springs are seeking city of Atlanta cooperation in renaming the entire street.