Confederate Memorial Day is an official holiday and/or observance day in the U.S. South as a day to honor those who died fighting for the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. Eleven states officially observe Confederate Memorial Day: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
In the spring of 1866 the Ladies Memorial Association of Columbus, Georgia passed a resolution to set aside one day annually to memorialize the Confederate dead. Additionally, the secretary of the association, Mrs. Charles J. (Mary Ann) Williams was directed to author a letter inviting the ladies in every Southern state to join them in the observance. The letter was written in March of 1866 and sent to all of the principal cities in the South, including Atlanta, Macon, Montgomery, Memphis, Richmond, St. Louis, Alexandria, Columbia, New Orleans, et al.
The date for the holiday was selected by Mrs. Elizabeth Rutherford Ellis. She chose April 26, the first anniversary of Confederate General Johnston's final surrender to Union General Sherman at Bennett Place, NC. For many in the South, that marked the official end of the Civil War.
On April 26, 1866, tens of thousands of Southern women commemorated the first Confederate Memorial Day. Some, however, in the northernmost portions of the South did not participate because their flowers were not yet in bloom. Consequently, they selected dates later in the spring to hold their first Confederate Memorial Days. For example, parts of Virginia chose May 10, commemorating Stonewall Jackson's death. Near Petersburg, VA, they chose June 9, the anniversary of a significant battle there. Others opted for Jefferson Davis' birthday, June 3.
To the present, Southern states continue to have Confederate Memorial days. Though most are still on April 26, others continue to be later in the year.