Is there a 111-year-old time capsule buried beneath the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery? According to those who spoke with South Carolina’s The Post and Courier, such an item could exist. In fact, its existence is proven on the cemetery’s own website, mentioned within a reprint of a “seemingly unrelated historical document.”
In 1906, with the approval of then-Secretary of War William Howard Taft, the United Daughters of the Confederacy began raising money for a monument in the Confederate section of Arlington National Cemetery. Designed by sculptor and Confederate Army veteran Moses Jacob Ezekiel, it was officially unveiled in 1914.
The monument depicts Southerners leaving to fight in the American Civil War. They’re followed by their slaves, one of whom is carrying a baby. Atop the scene is a woman who represents the American South. She’s adorned with a crown of olive leaves and carries a laurel wreath, a plow stock and a pruning hook.
Beneath the statue is the Biblical inscription, “They have beat their swords into plough-shares and their spears into pruning hooks,” as well as a circular base of shields, which feature the coat of arms of the 11 Confederate states, as well as Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri.
The 32-foot-tall monument was among the focuses of the Commission on the Naming of Items of the Department of Defense That Commemorate the Confederate States of America or Any Person Who Served Voluntarily with the Confederate States of America – better known as the Naming Commission – which recommended it be removed.
Given its depiction of Confederate-era ideals, the aim is to have it removed by the end of 2023. However, the granite pedestal will remain, as to not disturb any of the graves around it – 482 Confederate resting places, to be exact. Given this, there are no plans to dig beneath the base.
Officials launched a public consultation period at the end of August 2023, to gather opinions about what should happen to the memorial upon its removal.
According to experts who spoke with The Post and Courier, a time capsule sits at the cornerstone of the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.
Through archival records, the publication uncovered information that suggests the box was buried during construction and contains 40 Confederate-era items, including newspapers, stamps, coins, the South Carolina state flag, a plaster cast of the “Great Seal of the Confederate States,” pre-war currency and a Confederate flag with the “Stars and Bars” banner.
These records also show the time capsule may contain the “Program of the Laying of the Corner-Stone of Arlington Monument,” which contains writings about the Lost Cause myth – a claim that the cause of “the Confederate States during the American Civil War was just, heroic, and not centered on slavery.”
Talking with The Post and Courier, a spokesperson for Arlington National Cemetery said:
“Some sources state that the Arlington Confederate Monument Association buried a time capsule below a cornerstone. The exact location is unknown. The Army will not deconstruct the granite bases in any way or conduct any subsurface disturbance.
“If the time capsule is inadvertently located while removing the bronze elements of the memorial, Army National Military Cemeteries (ANMC) will develop a plan in conjunction with the Department of Historic Resources (DHR) and consulting parties, for disposition of the time capsules.”
When approached for comment by the South Carolina publication, retired US Army Brig. Gen. Ty Seidule, who served as the vice chair of the Naming Commission, said, “I don’t know anything about a time capsule.”