ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Staff Photo by Alyson Wright/Chattanooga Times Free Press - October 20, 2012 Dr. John Fowler, standing, a history professor at Dalton State College, speaks about the life of General Joseph E. Johnston during the 100th anniversary celebration of the Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston statue and monument in downtown Dalton.

The statue of Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston at the intersection of Hamilton and Crawford streets in downtown Dalton, Georgia, will be relocated after months of uncertainty surrounding the monument that sparked protests and counter-protests in summer 2020.

The Dalton branch of the United Daughters of the Confederacy had said the group was open to relocating its statue from where it has been for more than 100 years. Now it seems as though it's only a matter of time for the statue to make a move.

The monument will be moved to a spot behind the Huff House on Selvidge Street. The Huff House, originally built in the 1840s, was occupied until the 1970s, when it was donated, and is now owned by the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society.

Melissa Burchfield with the society referred all questions to Robert Jenkins, an attorney representing the Daughters of the Confederacy. He confirmed the move Tuesday but said all the details on the timeline of it and who will pay for it are still being worked out.

The city of Dalton pays minimal upkeep for the statue but officials have said the City Council is unable to make any decisions on where it stands.

In Dalton, the Johnston statue was at the center of multiple protests between activists who wanted it relocated to a location that would better contextualize its history and significance and others in the community who wanted it kept in the downtown square because of its nostalgic presence.

Once activists started to call for the statue to be relocated, others in Dalton and Whitfield County showed significant backlash both online and in person toward them.

A Facebook group called "DON'T LET JOE GO!" that was created after an activist group called for the relocation of Johnston gained 5,000 members in 24 hours.

One post in the group, made by someone identified as Gary Chapman, said, "We will not allow this DACA kid to move JOE!" alluding to the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

Several of the younger activists in Dalton were Hispanic, but it's not clear if any were in the DACA program.

At a rally in June, counter-protesters told the Times Free Press they wanted the Johnston statue to stay downtown because it was a symbol of their youth when it was the meeting place on Friday nights and because moving it would be a form of changing the city's history.

Several people were OK with the statue being relocated but not removed or destroyed, as some have been around the country.

The standing of Confederate historical figures came into question anew among the nationwide protests after the May 25 killing of George Floyd, an African American man, under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer.

Some statues commemorating these Confederate soldiers and leaders were taken down by both government bodies and protesters, and others were debated over for months and in some cases kept up despite public outcry.

Weeks after the Floyd killing, lawmakers in Tennessee voted to keep Nathan Bedford Forrest Day, to honor a Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader.

The statue in Dalton was erected in 1912 and is still owned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

During the Civil War, Johnston commanded Confederate troops at First Manassas, defended the Confederate capital of Richmond during the Peninsula Campaign of 1862 and participated in the Vicksburg and Atlanta campaigns in 1863 and 1864.

Johnston and the Confederate Army fought in the areas around Dalton and eventually withdrew and retreated toward Atlanta. On Dec. 27, 1863, in Dalton, Johnston was appointed to command the Army of Tennessee by Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy.

Contact Patrick Filbin at pfilbin@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT