ALTON, Ill. (KMOX) – Standing proud and shooting nearly 60 feet into the sky, it seems like the monument marking the graves of Confederate soldiers in Alton, Illinois could present a big target for protestors.
But that hasn’t been the case to this point, despite recent controversies that have led to the removal of Civil War-era amrkers at Forest Park and elsewhere across the country.
“There’s not that much controversy here,” Alton Township Supervisor and local historian Donald Huber pointed out. “Because there’s no images, there’s no rah-rah for the South type of thing. It’s more about ‘Hey, these poor guys died and they’re buried here’.”
The stark obelisk on Rozier Street marks the final resting place for more than 1,300 Confederate soldiers who died in the nearby prison or on Smallpox Island in the Mississippi River.
“The cells were 4-by-7 (feet) and they housed nine prisoners per cell,” Huber said of the Alton Confederate Prison. “Three bunks, three men per bunk. It’s no wonder disease got kind of rampant.”
So far there have been no demonstrations or public calls for the removal of the monument, but Huber said he and other city leaders are prepared to go to court to keep it standing should that eventually happen.
“This is not something that honors the cause, it honors the men and only that,” he pointed out.
It’s a quiet spot, but the federal government has contracted to have a guard posted on-site around the clock — just in case.