Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Confederate Memorial Day

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Also called
Confederate Heroes Day



Confederate Memorial Day

Observed by
Alabama Florida Mississippi South Carolina Texas

First time
April 26, 1866; 150 years ago (1866-04-26)

Related to
Lee–Jackson Day Robert E. Lee Day

Confederate Memorial Day, also called Confederate Heroes Day in Texas, is a public holiday observed by the U.S. states of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas since end of the American Civil War to remember the estimated 258,000 members of the Confederate States Army, Navy, Marines, and militia who died in the line of duty. The day is also marked by observances in many other states. It is observed on April 26 in most Southern states to recall the surrender of their last major field army at Bennett Place on that date in 1865. The war officially ended with the signing of Presidential Proclamation 157 on August 20, 1866.



In the spring of 1866 the Ladies Memorial Association of Columbus, Georgia, passed a resolution to set aside one day annually to memorialize the Confederate war dead. Mary Ann Williams, the association secretary, was directed to pen a letter inviting ladies associations in every Southern state to join them in the observance.

Their invitation was written in March 1866 and sent to all of the principal cities in the South, including Atlanta, Macon, Montgomery, Memphis, Richmond, St. Louis, Alexandria, Columbia, and New Orleans, as well as smaller towns like Staunton, VA, Anderson, SC, and Wilmington, NC. The actual date for the holiday was selected by Elizabeth Rutherford Ellis. She chose April 26, the first anniversary of Confederate General Johnston's surrender to Major-General Sherman at Bennett Place. For many in the South, that date in 1865 marked the end of the civil war.

In their book The Genesis of the Memorial Day Holiday in America, Bellware and Gardiner determine that the national Memorial Day holiday is a direct offshoot of the observance begun by the Ladies Memorial Association of Columbus, Georgia in 1866. In a few places, most notably Columbus, Mississippi and Macon, Georgia, Union graves were decorated during the first observance. The day was even referred to as Memorial Day by the Baltimore Sun on May 8, 1866 after the ladies organization that started it. The name Confederate Memorial Day was not used until the northern observance was initiated in 1868.

While initially cool to the idea of a northern version of the holiday, General John A. Logan was eventually won over as evidenced by his General Order No. 11 of May 5, 1868 wherein he commanded the posts of Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) to likewise strew flowers on the graves of Union soldiers. The GAR eventually adopted the name Memorial Day at their national encampment in 1882.

Many theories have been offered as to how Logan became aware of the southern tradition he imitated in 1868. In her autobiography, his wife claims she told him about it after a trip to Virginia in the spring of that year. His secretary and his adjutant also claim they told him about it. John Murray of Waterloo, New York claims it was he who inspired Logan in 1868. Bellware and Gardiner, however, offer proof that Logan was aware of the southern tributes long before any of them had a chance to mention it to him. In a speech to veterans in Salem, Illinois on July 4, 1866, Logan referred to the various dates of observance adopted in the south for the practice saying “…traitors in the South have their gatherings day after day, to strew garlands of flowers upon the graves of Rebel soldiers...”


In Alabama, Confederate Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in April. It is a public holiday and state offices are closed.


In Florida, Confederate Memorial Day is observed on April 26. When it falls upon a Sunday, the public holiday will be observed on the following Monday.


In Georgia, the holiday designated as April 26 and known as Confederate Memorial Day was observed on the Monday prior to or on April 26, as proclaimed by the Governor. The state capitol and state agencies are closed, as on all state holidays. In 2016, the name Confederate Memorial Day was dropped and April 26 was observed on Monday April 25 and simply designated "State Holiday."


In Mississippi, Confederate Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in April. It is a public holiday and state executives may close their respective offices.

South Carolina

In South Carolina, Confederate Memorial Day is observed on May 10. If on a Saturday, it shifts to Friday. If Sunday, it will be observed the following Monday.


In Texas, Confederate Heroes Day (also called Confederate Memorial Day) is observed on January 19. It is a public holiday and some state agencies may operate on reduced staff.


Confederate Memorial Day Wikipedia

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