Tarboro’s Confederate monument has a new home.
The Tarboro Town Council voted unanimously Monday to place ownership of the monument, dedicated on the Town Common on Oct. 29, 1904, and removed on Sept. 5 amid nationwide civil unrest, in the hands of the Fort Branch Historical Society.
Fort Branch was one of three proposals submitted to the council but the only one considered as Mayor Pro Tem Othar Woodard, attending the meeting via telephone, quickly made the motion to award possession of the monument to the 501(c)3 organization, which supports the Fort Branch Confederate Earthen Fort Civil War Site.
It was Woodard who made the motion to remove the monument from the Town Common.
Fort Branch overlooks the Roanoke River and is located two miles below Hamilton and 60 miles upriver from Plymouth. It is about a 35-minute drive east of Tarboro.
In his written proposal to the council, Fort Branch Historical Society President Jimmy Braswell, who lives in Tarboro, wrote that his organization is focused on historical and archaeological preservation of Fort Branch.
“This organization has been focused on preserving the site for over 40 years,” Braswell wrote. “It has been entrusted with major artifacts from the time by the State of North Carolina to include seven cannons that were recovered from the Roanoke River during 1972 and 1977. We are charged with care and maintenance and public display of the artifacts from the two recovery operations. The seven cannons at Fort Branch account for 70 percent of the cannons at Fort Branch.”
He described Fort Branch as “unique among all Civil War sites. No other site comes even close to being able to display such a high percentage of original guns that are directly connected to the specific site.”
In pointing out why Fort Branch would be a good location for the re-erection of the monument, he pointed out that Gov. Roy Cooper “stated that such monuments should be at sites that correlate in historical context. Following that mindset, monuments have been successfully re-erected at the Kinston and Bentonville battlefields. Fort Branch is a Confederate earthen fort, which was the closest military installation to Tarboro/Edgecombe County.”
He also provided a list of some 35 Tarboro and Edgecombe County men and boys, aged 15-17, who served at Fort Branch and returned to defend their homes and save the bridge when Union troops attempted to burn it to cover their retreat toward New Bern and the coast.
Braswell said his organization would remove the components of the monument from storage within 120 days and wrote, “In conclusion, there is and never has been a more appropriate site for the relocation of the Edgecombe County Confederate Soldier’s monument than Fort Branch. If granted the monument, the Fort Branch Historical Society fully intends to re-erect it at Fort Branch to honor all soldiers that fought in the conflict. We would make plans to remove the components of the monument from town storage within 120 days and do everything in our power to re-erect this monument to honor these veterans and keep it available to the public.”
Other proposals were received from McCutchan Jones at Coolmore Plantation and Tarboro Revitalization Inc.
Jones’ plan was to re-erect the monument in a rose garden, where it could be viewed by appointment and during occasional open houses. Tarboro Revitalization’s plan was to re-erect the monument at an unidentified location on private land.