- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 2, 2020

Vandalism against Confederate statues has now spread beyond cities and to Manassas National Battlefield itself, with vandals painting “BLM” on the base of an iconic statue of Stonewall Jackson.

The statue was tagged multiple times with different colors of paint sometime Monday night or Tuesday morning. National Park Service preservationists cleaned the graffiti Wednesday, a spokeswoman said.

The statue stands on the battlefield where Gen. Thomas J. Jackson earned one of the all-time great nicknames as he led Confederate troops from Virginia to defend Henry House Hill amid withering fire from the Union, protecting it, in the words of Brigadier Gen. Barnard Bee, “like a stone wall.”

NPS spokeswoman Katelyn Liming said the FBI has joined the park service in investigating the vandalism, though it’s not clear whether additional steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence as tensions over Confederate monuments rise.

“Law enforcement officers continue to patrol and protect the area,” Ms. Liming told The Washington Times.

The graffiti was first reported by InsideNova.com.

Confederate statues have become a focal point for anger after a Black man, George Floyd, died under the knee of a White Minneapolis police officer in late May.

Floyd’s death initially sparked a broad conversation about race and policing, but much of the debate now is over the country’s early history, and statues Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson have become targets, though it’s generally been for statues in city parks or placed of honor like university campuses or the U.S. Capitol.

Targeting statues in national parks — and particularly battlefields — raises even trickier questions.

Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania had been bracing during the Independence Day holiday this year. A group that called itself Left Behind USA said it would conduct a “flag burning to resist police” at the cemetery, the site of Lincoln’s famous address.

The park defends more than 1,325 monuments and markers concerning the battle, which took place July 1-3, 1863.

“These memorials represent an important, if controversial, chapter in our nation’s history,” the park says. “The National Park Service is committed to preserving these memorials while simultaneously educating visitors holistically about the actions, motivations, and causes of the soldiers and states they commemorate. A hallmark of American progress is our ability to learn from our history.”

The park service says many of the Confederate memorials were placed at battlefields in the early and middle parts of the last century, sometimes officially authorized by Congress and sometimes placed even before the property was a park.

The park service says its general policy is not to alter or remove markers or memorials, even when historically inaccurate or conflicting with current sensibilities, unless ordered to do so by act of Congress.

Manassas was the site of two battles during the Civil War in 1861 and 1862. Both of them were deemed Confederate victories.

The Stonewall Jackson statue was placed in 1940, just as the property itself was being incorporated into the National Park Service system, deeded over by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The idea for the statue, though, dated to 1936 and the 75th commemoration of the First Battle of Manassas. The superintendent said a suitable monument was needed to replace a sign marking the spot.

Virginia’s legislature paid for the statue and sculptor Joseph Pollia went to work — though his finished product was not popular with some Confederate vets, who said the figure looked more like Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

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