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Document: Jefferson City Commission on Human Relations letter regarding Sterling Price markerView
A stone marker dedicated to represent a Civil War battle that never occurred continues to be a topic of discussion for city commissions, with two making recommendations for its removal.
Overturning a previous decision, the Jefferson City Historic Preservation Commission voted Wednesday to recommend the removal of the marker.
The Sterling Price marker, located on Moreau Drive, was dedicated in 1933 by the Winnie Davis Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
The marker is a large brown stone on a gray stone base, bearing a plaque which reads "Deciding against attack, the Confederate Army under Gen. Sterling Price turned from Jefferson City October 7, 1864."
In 1864, Confederate forces, led by Gen. Sterling Price, planned to attack Jefferson City to secure a possible victory and help turn the tide of the war, which at that point was leaning toward the Union, which eventually won.
Recent discussions have questioned if the marker accurately represents the city's history in the Civil War and the event that occurred in 1864.
At a previous meeting, after hearing a mixture of public testimony, the commission decided to recommend the marker remain where it is, but other markers and historic contextualization be placed on the site.
On Wednesday, the commission reversed this decision and voted to instead recommend the removal of the marker and eventual replacement with markers or monuments that more accurately portray the city's Civil War history.
During two hours of public testimony, Jefferson City residents shared a variety of opinions with the commission.
Some, like former state Rep. Jay Barnes, said the marker should be removed because of its ties to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the organization that gave it to the city.
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"People who would like the marker removed do not want to erase history at all," Barnes said. "We want to celebrate the true history of our community in the Civil War."
The Jefferson City Human Relations Commission, in a letter sent to the City Council and Mayor Carrie Tergin on Wednesday, also recommended the Sterling Price marker be removed and replaced with a different marker or monument that is more accurate to the history of the city.
The HRC also specifically mentioned the marker's dedicators.
"Serious concern about both the history of the UDC and the accuracy of the marker were brought to the Commission's attention," the letter reads, in part. "In particular, the UDC was formed for the purpose of creating a nationwide historical narrative in support of the 'Lost Cause' theory of the Civil War and the organization had a history of celebrating the Ku Klux Klan."
Barnes also argued the marker does not tell an accurate history of the events of Oct. 7, 1864.
"How many people have heard that Sterling Price passed on Jefferson City because he loved our town?" Barnes said. "There is nothing in the historical record to back that up."
The Human Relations Commission said in its letter that the marker gives the impression that Price chose to spare the city, and a more accurate marker would actually pay tribute to the Union forces which protected the city.
"Considering the real facts of our city's history and the organization that placed the marker, the Human Relations Commission firmly believes it is necessary and appropriate for the city to remove the existing marker and replace it with a marker or monument that is accurate to our City's history," the letter reads.
Nimrod Chapel, president of the Jefferson City NAACP, said he would like the marker to be removed because of what the Confederacy represents to Black residents.
"That is a monument to the Confederacy," Chapel said. "It has one purpose. The entire idea for erecting those markers has been to show the subjugation of some of the citizens by others — who's on top and who's on bottom. That's not a marker about history."
Those in favor of the marker remaining argue the marker does not praise or glorify the Confederacy but provides a historic representation of the events that did, or didn't, occur in the city.
Resident Rebecca Ambrose said she does not want to see the marker removed because it displays history.
"I don't see that that glorifies Sterling Price," Ambrose said. "Without that monument, there would be no known history of the Civil War in Jefferson City."
Pete Oetting, a member of the Sons of Union Veterans, said that organization does not support the removal of any historic marker.
Instead, Oetting said the organization would like to place more historical context on the site in the form of other markers to represent the Union forces and others.
The Historic Preservation Commission and Human Relations Commission's recommendations will be presented to the Jefferson City Council.
At this time, no decisions have been made regarding the marker by the City Council, and the marker has not been discussed at a City Council meeting.