I’ve come across a series of reports concerning acts of vandalism against Confederate monuments this past week; over the past several years I’m aware of acts of vandalism against a series of monuments at Gettysburg, with others being damaged due to one reason or another. This, unfortunately, is nothing new, especially to people who are familiar with the history of Grant’s Tomb over the last half-century: only through the efforts of some people, including my friend Frank Scaturro, has the tomb begun to capture its former dignity.
But then there are some monuments which in themselves are eyesores. Some require interpretation to place them in a more appreciative context; in other cases, the monuments simply are not attractive, and in a few cases they are comically bad. That includes the one pictured here.
I visited Nashville back in 1998 to look at Vanderbilt University. I was aware that a new statue to Nathan Bedford Forrest had recently been erects, and that it was the subject of some controversy. Now, Forrest has always been a controversial figure, so you could expect some debate about his legacy whenever his name surfaced. In this case, however, the discussion also involved the design and placement of the monument in question.
Thus, before I prepared to leave, I had to see the monument in question, and Andrew McMichael took me to see it.
I must say that I’ve never felt so conflicted about such a piece of bad art. Simply put, it was the ugliest statue of a Civil War figure that I have ever seen. It looked like a badly-rendered version of a video game character. And yet it seemed so appropriate that it portrayed Nathan Bedford Forrest. I’m still wondering whether Dixie Outfitters made a t-shirt honoring the monument.
There is no need for vandals to target this monument. It does the job perfectly well all by itself.
I know that other people have their favorite monuments to deride, most notably the Longstreet Monument at Gettysburg, where there are detractors as well as admirers. There’s s spread of renderings of Abraham Lincoln across the nation, some of which are aesthetically questionable. But none of them come anywhere close to this rendering of that devil Forrest, at least in my mind.
You’re free to disagree, of course … but if you do, then tell us what you think is the ugliest Civil War monument out there. The comments section is open …