RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — On Tuesday, Dec. 13, bystanders gathered around the site where a statue of Confederate general A.P. Hill had previously stood for over 130 years prior to its removal on Monday, Dec. 12. On the second day of the removal process, onlookers watched as crews — along with an indirect descendant of Hill — unearthed Hill’s remains.
After hours of digging through rocks, dirt and debris that rested below A.P. Hill’s memorial, crews uncovered the general’s remains — using a tarp and trucks to shield the view from spectators.
The A.P. Hill monument represented the last Richmond-owned Confederate statue to be taken down in the city. As resident Devin Curtis watched the removal unfold, he noted the significance of this milestone in Richmond’s history.
“I feel like the City is trying to do what they can do to make up for all the mistakes that were made,” Curtis said. “When I saw that statue come down, it showed me how far my city has come.”
This monument was unique compared to other Confederate statues that were previously removed. Its dual status as a statue and burial site sparked controversy and delayed its removal. After extensive discourse, officials determined Hill’s remains would be taken to a battlefield in Culpeper. However, there is still debate over where the statue itself will end up.
The City of Richmond planned for the statue to be displayed in the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, but indirect descendants of A.P. Hill contested that decision. These individuals claim to see the statue as a family headstone and a grave marker for their relative. Therefore, they feel it is more appropriate that the figure remains with Hill’s remains and also be transported to the Culpeper site.
Curtis is hopeful the City gets its way, and anyone who wants to see the statue in the future will have to see it in the Black History Museum.
“It forces them to go inside of a museum to learn about the other side, too,” Curtis said.
There were moments of silence on the second day of the statue’s removal process, but there were also loud moments of dispute. Tensions escalated, peaking around noon when bystanders — including Curtis — confronted other spectators who wore “Sons of Confederate Veterans” merchandise sporting the Confederate flag. Curtis explained that he felt the symbols are highly offensive and hurtful to many people — particularly black individuals — across the community.
“I asked them a simple question,” Curtis said. “I asked ‘what does that flag represent to you?’ Because to my people, it represents a lot of hate.”
A descendant of A.P. Hill who had been helping with the removal process climbed from the memorial site underground when he heard the commotion. He argued that the removal was not the time nor place for discussion. Curtis responded by saying he showed up to educate the community.
“Some people out here understand what it represents, and some people are tired of it too,” Curtis said. “But you still got a few people out here that are not ready for that change. They don’t understand that change, because they fear that change.”
The statue of A.P. Hill was removed on Monday, Dec. 12, but an ongoing legal battle between Richmond and descendants of A.P. Hill continues to hinder commitment to a final home of the statue. For now, the statue will remain in storage.