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Albemarle County removes statue of Confederate soldier ‘Johnny Reb’

The statue is the first in the area to be taken down

The removal was livestreamed on Albermarle County's official Twitter page.
The removal was livestreamed on Albermarle County's official Twitter page.

Albemarle County removed its “Johnny Reb” Confederate statue and nearby cannons and stacks of cannonballs from the county courthouse Saturday morning. 

The life-size bronze representation of a nonspecific soldier, officially named “At Ready,” was erected in front of the Albemarle County Courthouse in 1909 — 44 years after the conclusion of the Civil War. Unlike local statues of Confederate generals, the monument depicts the common soldier of the Confederacy. “At Ready” was paid for by the county, the City of Charlottesville and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. 

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors voted 6-0 in favor of the statue’s removal Aug. 6 — just a month after a Virginia state law went into effect July 1 granting localities control over their Confederate monuments. The monument is the first in the area to fall, as an injunction currently bars the removal of the City of Charlottesville’s monuments to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. 

Dozens gathered to watch the monument’s removal early Saturday morning and dance along to music played by WTJU. Among the spectators was Religious Studies Prof. Jalane Schmidt, a community activist who leads walking tours of local Confederate monuments, who said the County’s decision to remove Johnny Reb “shows a real shift in public knowledge and understanding.”

“It’s gratifying that there’s now a significant enough constituency of people who are educated about the issues and what these statues were installed to represent, and that there’s sufficient political will among elected officials to remove them,” Schmidt said.

Its removal follows that of Confederate monuments in Richmond, which were pulled from their plinths throughout the month of July. 

Charlottesville Tomorrow reports that the statue will be relocated to Third Winchester Battlefield historical site in Frederick County, which is managed by the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation. That relocation concerns Schmidt, who characterized the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation as a “purveyor of the Lost Cause.”

“I hope that decision makers will be very thoughtful about where they send these statues once they’ve been removed, so that they’re not exporting our toxic waste disposal into another community,” Schmidt said. 

The University’s Special Collections Library will temporarily hold the Confederate memorabilia-filled time capsule contained in the statue’s base.

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