"Johnny Reb" is Coming Down

Sep 11, 2020

This summer, a new state law took effect, allowing communities to decide the fate of their confederate monuments. Saturday, Albemarle County becomes the latest community to remove one under guidelines approved by the legislature.

Officially the life-sized statue of a confederate soldier is called “At Ready,” but the monument – cast in bronze in 1909 – is known locally as Johnny Reb.  He weighs about 900 pounds, and Emily Kilroy, director of communications for the county, says moving him could be a day-long affair.

“They’ll put ladders up alongside the base. They’ll snip the pins and then lift off the statue, put that on the truck and then begin the much longer work of pulling the stone layers that weigh thousands of pounds each off onto the truck.” 

The "Johnny Reb" monument is set to come down Saturday morning.
Credit albemarle.org

The decision to remove Johnny Reb from in front of the county courthouse came after six months of listening sessions, panel discussions and tours.  Hundreds took part, but Kilroy says the county didn’t want them showing up Saturday – risking a case of COVID, so it’s offering a live stream on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, beginning at 6:30 a.m. and ending at some point with a big discovery.

“We know from the newspaper accounts of the time that there is a time capsule somewhere in the base.”

The county will open that before sending Johnny Reb, two cannons and a stack of cannon balls to their new home – a Civil War battlefield near Winchester.