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The base of the Appomattox statue has resurfaced atop Confederate graves in Alexandria

The base of the Appomattox statue has resurfaced atop Confederate graves in Alexandria.

More than two years ago, the Appomattox statue was removed from Old Town by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). The base was moved into Bethel Cemetery last summer, while the statute itself reportedly remains in storage.

Bethel Cemetery owner James Clink wants the statute and base reunited atop the graves of 10 members of Col. John Singleton Mosby’s Rangers and 15 soldiers of the Confederate States of America (CSA) 17th Virginia Regiment from the Alexandria area.

Click has been working with the UDC to get the statue moved to the cemetery, and had the base of the statue moved in last summer. He has also installed a number of security cameras around the base.

“Personally, I’d like to see it up there myself,” Click told ALXnow. “It’s a piece of history. Right now it’s somewhere in a warehouse in storage. They won’t say where, just that it’s in a big crate.”

Appomattox was erected by the Robert E. Lee Camp at the intersection of Prince and S. Washington Streets in 1889 and depicted an unarmed CSA soldier facing south with his head bowed. The names of CSA soldiers from Alexandria who died in the Civil War are carved on the base of the statue.

Fruitless attempts were made to remove the statue over the years and multiple drivers crashed their cars into it. The statue was toppled once by a crash in 1988. After getting the go-ahead from then-Gov. Ralph Northam in 2020, UDC quietly removed the statue.

Mayor Justin Wilson says before it was removed, City Council wanted it to be relocated to either a cemetery or museum.

“We did say all along that we felt it belonged in a museum or graveyard,” Wilson said. “This sounds like an issue for the private property owner to work through.”

The “Appomattox” statue by M. Caspar Buberl overlooks the intersection of Washington Street and Prince Street on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 in Alexandria (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Neighbor Diane Devendorf lives near the cemeteries and finds the Appomattox statue and its base offensive.

“I think that it’s very disrespectful to place that statue there without any regard for the families that have loved ones surrounding the location,” Devendorf said. “There are traditional African American cemeteries right up the street and there is no way to get to them without passing what will be the Appomattox eyesore.”

Bethel Cemetery is part of the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex, which is a collection of 13 cemeteries located near the Carlyle neighborhood. More than 35,000 people are buried in the cemeteries, including previously enslaved men and women, U.S. Colored Troops, thousands of Union troops and CSA troops. There are nearly 11,000 people buried at Bethel Cemetery, which was founded in 1885 and remains an active cemetery.

The cemeteries were founded in the early 19th century in response to a Yellow Fever epidemic that resulted in more than 300 deaths, according to David Heiby, who conducts tours at the sites and is the superintendent of the Presbyterian Cemetery.

The following lists the 13 established cemeteries in the area and the years they were founded:

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