Confederate monuments are a contested piece of the public landscape. Debates generally focus on the division between “heritage” and “hate,” but some scholars have argued that the meaning of monuments is more complex. There is little research examining variation among Confederate monuments, but this may be critical to understanding their social foundations and consequences. We provide insight into Confederate monuments and their complexity by examining their inscriptions and how the use of different inscriptions changed over time and varies between the Upper South and Deep South. We employ content analysis to organize the inscriptions associated with 856 Confederate monuments located in public spaces throughout the U.S. South into common themes. Our results suggest three distinct types of inscriptions: those connected to the lost cause ideology that glorifies the Confederacy and its cause; those that were comparatively plain in their description of people, places, and events; and others that focused exclusively on mourning the death of Confederate soldiers. The majority of monuments (59%) contain a Lost Cause inscription. Plain monuments comprise 35%, and only 6% of public Confederate monuments were dedicated purely to the dead. Our descriptive analysis also indicates substantial temporal and spatial variation in the use of these different types of inscriptions. Despite sharing a connection to the Confederacy, we assert that the specific messages associated with a monument are more varied and, in part, reflect the social conditions of the time and place in which they were built.