Editorial: Memorial honors men who fought for the right reasons

As debates and angry protests go on about whether monuments to leaders of the Confederate government during the Civil War are appropriate for public spaces, here is a reminder that men from the North Fork enlisted in large numbers to fight to keep the country intact.

Robert E. Lee and his boss, Jefferson Davis, fought to tear the country in half and throw away the Constitution and Bill of Rights. They did so on behalf of southern slave owners who wanted not only to keep their slaves and the slave-based economy, but also to grow it all the way west to California.

If Lee ever had a chance of winning the war — which would have fundamentally destroyed the country, redrawn its boundaries and altered its form of government — he surely threw it away at Gettysburg, where on the second and third days he made some truly bad decisions. Had the North aggressively followed up on Lee’s failures in Pennsylvania, the war might have ended in July 1863, saving tens of thousands of lives.

Men from the North who enlisted did so for various reasons, of course. Some wanted to be where the fighting was; others didn’t want to be at home anymore. But others fought for the idea of America, for the idea that slavery was a blot on this green land, and to keep the form of government that other Virginians — George Washington, James Madison and James Monroe — created after the Revolution.

There are monuments in Riverhead and Southold to many of the country’s wars, right up to the present day. There is a memorial at Edwards Avenue and Riley Avenue in Riverhead to the deaths of Sept. 11, 2001. The Civil War memorial on Main Road in Southold, erected in 1887 in front of the American Legion Post by a group called the Ladies Monument Union, has 84 names on it.

That’s 84 men from Southold Town who fought for the right reasons. Here are their names:

Steward L. Woodford

C.F. Hommel

D.J. Conklin

H.W. Prince

E.F. Huntting

B.T. Payne

H.N. Booth

Fredk. Ewald

Henry Gaffca

L. T. Butler

C.C. Wells

C.E. Terry

B.H. Terry

J.C. Merrill

C.E. Overton

C.B. Ledyard

Z.H. Brower

S.S. Bennett

H.M. Gaviston

J.D. Cleveland

H.H. Preston

J.C. Lewis

W.W. Rose

F.B. Goldsmith

W.W. Carpenter

Robert Jefferson

C.S. Tillinghast

C.S. Prince

T.H. Baxter

Chas. Williams

J.C. Pace

Edwd. Flynn

J.B. Cleveland

Henry Johnson

A.W. Case

J. G. Case

C.B. Wells

Danl. Smith

B.R. Penny

W.R. Overton

Wm. Osborn

C.C. Culver

A. B. Goldsmith

H. H. Haynes

A. W. Turbush

I.S. Overton

A. H. Corwin

Thomas Young

G. B. Reeve

J. H. Benjamin

H.M. Hallock

A. L. Bennett

O. A. Mayo

T. E. Reeve

J. C. Young

C. L. Booth

S. L. Helfrich

G.R. Pease

J.S. Conklin

O.E. Vail

Jos. Rafferty

Albern W. Case

H.H. Wood

H. K. Wood

C.W. Tuthill

L. T. Moore

B.F. Moore

J. R. Norton

Robt. Leslie

H. C. Horton

B. A. Horton

J.A. Howell

A.W. Rackett

Smith Ewart

B. T. Billard

A.J. Bennett

C. C. Rackett

Edwd. Oldrin

Michael McGibney

Horatio Nelson

S. E. Harris

W.W. Sterling

O.O. Tuthill

O.C. Moore

Photo credit: Kelly Zegers