In response to Chris Wilhelm’s guest column, please consider that it is possible Maria Madden was the most dedicated and influential member of a long-standing group of women that began much, much earlier. She became president of one of the few Ladies Memorial Associations in the state which finally brought a large (and expensive) idea into fruition. Her passion to see this project completed might have been motivated by the death of her first husband and the actions of a post-war Congress to commemorate, reinter and properly bury Union soldiers while deliberately ignoring the Confederate dead. Six years later, she married a surgeon who left the profession after what he experienced during the war.
While there was controversy about the informal handling of the money raised for the monument, this was an informal group. The conclusion of the special committee organized by the Jackson Camp 806 after an intensive investigation concluded while the management of money was improper, there was no intentional wrongdoing and the resolve was to accept the LMA invitation to the unveiling of the monument. Judge Horace Dart immediately resigned stating that the “moving spirit in the purchase of the monument had treated those near and dear to him with object discourtesy” and Col. JE Dart followed in kind. This sounds to me like a personal problem with Maria and not the monument. Also in attendance, Urbanus Dart voted to accept the invitation.