I have had a search of my site recently by someone who wondered who the statue in the middle of the square was supposed to be. The statue is a figural respresentation of the Confederate Soldier.
The history behind the statue is part of what makes Bentonville unique. The only Arkansas Governor from Bentonville was James H. Berry who served as a lawyer in Bentonville, was elected to state legislature in 1872 and speaker of the house in 1874. He was a circuit judge here from 1878 to 1882. He was elected governor in 1882 and served from January 1883 to January 1885. He was appointed to the United States Senate in 1885 and served there until 1907. Berry was a Confederate and served as a 2nd Lieutenant and was wounded in Corith, Mississippi and lost a leg.
Andrew J. Bates was born near Dadeville, Missouri in 1844. He fought for the Confederacy, joining the Arkansas 26th Infantry, Company “K.” He never rose above the rank of private. In 1866, Bates came to Benton County. He was a founder of the Benton County Bank, along with Col. W. A. Terry and S. F. Stahl, where he served as vice-president. He sold his interest in that bank and organized the First National Bank of Bentonville, of which he was president until 1920. He was a well known elk and big game hunter. His many hunting trophies added flavor to the Elk Horn Barber Shop. Bates died in 1928 and left an estate of $150,000. At his wife’s death, the remainder of the estate was to be used to build and maintain a hospital, to be known as Bates Memorial. After a challenge to the will by Bates’ nieces and nephews, and the loss of $52,000 in worthless stock, the remainder was matched by the WPA. In 1935 the twelve bed hospital was completed at a cost of $18,000.
So anyway, Bates wanted to make a gift to the city to memorialize the Confederate soldiers who had served from Benton County and Bentonville in particular. Statues of this sort are common throughout the south. If you are familiar with Bentonville history, the town was nearly completely burned by the Union Army during the Civil War and many of the local boys fought for the south.
The statue was dedicated in a grand ceremony on August 8th, 1908. One side of the base reads, "To the Southern Soldiers - Erected by A.J. Bates and the James H. Berry Chapter United Daughters of the Confederacy Aug. 8, 1908." The other reads, " Their Names are Borne On Honors Shield. Their Record Is With God. They Fought For Home and Fatherland."
There have been attempts made a few times over the past fifty years to have the statue removed because of the pain that the Civil War caused on both sides; however, the center of the square was deeded to the Daughters of the Confederacy for use as a park to be known as Public Square Park and will remain in their possession in perpetuity.