LAFAYETTE, La. – Some of you all may be wondering, who is Confederate General Alfred Mouton and why does he have a statue in the heart of Downtown Lafayette?
“Alfred Mouton was the grandson of the man who is acknowledged as the founder of Lafayette, Jean Mouton,” according to Dr. Michael Martin, Director of the Center of Louisiana Studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
He was born into a family of ‘substance’ as Dr. Martin says. Alfred’s father, Alexander, was the Governor of Louisiana, U.S. Senator, and the largest landholder in Lafayette Parish. Alfred went to college at West Point in the 1840’s, and spent a couple of years in the U.S. Army. He went back to follow in his father’s footsteps as a planter after working as an engineer on the railroads. Then in the 1850’s he joined the Vigilante Committee, where he was second in command.
In 1860, when Abraham Lincoln was elected President, there was an immediate backlash throughout the entire South, which led to the movement of several southern states toward secession in 1861.
“After the Union arrives in Louisiana, Mouton is involved in trying to protect the area of his home, which is along Bayou Teche and along the Vermilion River,” said Martin.
When the Civil War began in 1861, Alfred commanded the 18th infantry regiment under General Richard Taylor. He died in the Battle of Mansfield in Louisiana at a young age of 35-years-old.
The statue was erected in 1922 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Alfred Mouton Chapter.
“In many instances it was to remind certain populations, mainly the African-American population of their so called place, and not to challenge authorities,” according to Dr. Martin.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy have released a statement regarding the monument:
“The United Daughters of the Confederacy appreciates the feelings of citizens across the country currently being expressed concerning Confederate memorial statues and monuments that were erected by our members in decades past. To some, these memorial statues and markers are viewed as divisive and thus unworthy of being allowed to remain in public places. To others, they simply represent a memorial to our forefathers who fought bravely during four years of war. These memorial statues and markers have been a part of the Southern landscape for decades. We are grieved that certain hate groups have taken the Confederate flag and other symbols as their own. We are the descendants of Confederate soldiers, sailors, and patriots. Our members are the ones who have spent 123 years honoring their memory by various activities in the fields of education, history and charity, promoting patriotism and good citizenship. Our members are the ones who, like our statues, have stayed quietly in the background, never engaging in public controversy. The United Daughters of the Confederacy totally denounces any individual or group that promotes racial divisiveness or white supremacy. And we call on these people to cease using Confederate symbols for their abhorrent and reprehensible purposes. We are saddened that some people find anything connected with the Confederacy to be offensive. Our Confederate ancestors were and are Americans. We as an Organization do not sit in judgment of them nor do we impose the standards of the 21st century on these Americans of the 19th century. It is our sincere wish that our great nation and its citizens will continue to let its fellow Americans, the descendants of Confederate soldiers, honor the memory of their ancestors. Indeed, we urge all Americans to honor their ancestors’ contributions to our country as well. This diversity is what makes our nation stronger. Join us in denouncing hate groups and affirming that Confederate memorial statues and monuments are part of our shared American history and should remain in place.”
Patricia M. Bryson President General, 2016-2018