With all of the controversy over the removal of Confederate monuments across the South, I wondered what had happened to the statue of the Rebel soldier that stood for years in downtown Baton Rouge.
A Thanksgiving-weekend visit to Louisiana's Old State Capitol solved the mystery. The generic "silent sentinel," installed in 1886 to honor soldiers from East and West Baton Rouge parishes killed during the Civil War, resides in the Old State Capitol's history museum.
The museum display includes information cards giving historical context about how such Confederate monuments were placed across the South at the end of Reconstruction to mark the restoration of white rule and to honor the South's "lost cause."
Baton Rouge's Confederate soldier was removed with little or no opposition, according to a 2016 article by Walter Pierce in the Lafayette Independent. The Acadiana city for several years has debated taking down a statue of Confederate Gen. Alfred Mouton. But The Baton Rouge Advocate didn't even publish a story on the moving of the Baton Rouge statue.
That was before the taking down of the Robert E. Lee statue in New Orleans, the Charlottesville violence in which a young woman was killed, and the toppling of "Silent Sam" at the University of North Carolina.
Kudos to my hometown for unobtrusively placing the Confederate statue in its proper place in a museum. The change came in the wake of the Town Square development on North Boulevard. The square within sight of the Old State Capitol is a popular spot for festivals and concerts.
Other Confederate memorials have been removed in Baton Rouge without opposition. A few years ago, LSU changed Raphael Semmes Road, named for the Confederate admiral and blockade runner, to Veterans Drive. Kirby Smith Hall, a monstrous dorm named for the last Confederate general to surrender, will be torn down.
Robert E. Lee High, my alma mater, is now just Lee High, and its teams are known as the Patriots, not the Rebels.
But LSU's Beauregard Hall, named for P.G.T Beauregard, remains. Roadways in Baton Rouge's Southdowns section called Stuart, Hood, Pickett and Lee likely will stay the same.
And LSU will never consider changing the name of its athletic teams from Tigers, honoring the Louisiana soldiers who fought with Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee and came close to overwhelming the Union army on Cemetery Hill on Gettysburg's second day. LSU's teams will be the Tigers for evermore.