Saturday, April 26, 2014

Confederate Memorial Day, April 26, 2014

Today the Ladies Memorial Association of Montgomery, Alabama held its annual commemoration of Confederate Memorial Day in Oakwood Cemetery. The Association was formed in 1866 and has held an observance every year since, each April 26th during which the Confederate dead are remembered by flags, speeches and the laying of the wreath. It is complete with color guard, bag pipes, gun salute and Taps played.

Confederate Memorial Day is celebrated as a State holiday in many Southern States, including Alabama. State  offices will be closed on Monday, April 28th this year since the 26th is a  Saturday. The First White House of the Confederacy will remain open as it will be a day when many visitors will come.

Columbus, Georgia claims that the first Memorial Day was begun there, but it is funny that I was in Columbus, Mississippi this week and they too claim to be the first! Which really was? I have no idea.

The Rev. Donald West spoke to the John B. Gordon Chapter 383, United Daughters of the Confederacy Chapter recently, and is quoted as saying: "Something about this observance resonates deeply within us, and speaks to our better natures about duty, responsibility, accountability, reverence, devotion and challenges us to be better than we are. We understand there are still some basic standards and beliefs that strengthen us as a people".


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Georgia Women Suffering During the Confederacy

In the February 2014 issue of the United Daughters of the Confederacy Magazine is an article by Carolyn Golden Wilson titled Georgia's Confederate Women.
I had not really thought too much about the suffering experienced by the women of the Confederacy, whose husbands had left to fight, but this article tells about how so many, especially in Atlanta, had to flee their homes and even live in the woods to escape Sherman's men.

Ms. Wilson writes: "for weeks after an invasion, Georgia women described their physical and mental exhaustion, anxiety, sleep disturbances and nightmares, depression and rage against the Yankee invaders. They also had to deal with the emotional turmoil of the children". She points out that these women also had a great fear of unwanted pregnancies as death in childbirth was so prevalent, and there were no doctors nearby.

The author underscoring their suffering but also their will to survive, tells of one woman, Rebecca Latimer Felton, who lost all five of her sons during the war. Mrs. Felton became a refugee, losing her large plantation, but years later, in 1922 she would become the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Ms. Golden ends the article saying "The heroism of Georgia's Confederate Women has rarely been equaled by the women of any country. Numerous memorials have been built to Georgia's Confederate women, and no women in history deserved them more."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Confederate Soldiers Buried In Montgomery Oakwood Cemetery

Oakwood is a very large and historic cemetery in Montgomery which began by donations of land from Andrew Dexter and General John Scott, founders of the city of Montgomery. The early part of the graveyard was known as Scott's Free Burying ground. It now has an older part, which is all filled up, and a newer part including a Roman Catholic part.

Among the Confederate soldiers buried there are Brig. Generals James Holt Clanton, Samuel Dale, Brickett Davenport Fry, James Thadeus Holtzclaw and Tennent Lomax. I could and probably will write about each of them and their exploits.

William Calvin Oates Confederate Colonel of the 15th Alabama Infantry and later Governor of Alabama is buried in Oakwood.
Oates' regiment led one of the charges at Little Round Top  during the Battle of Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. His brother Lt. John  Oates was killed during the firing. I have seen the spot where  John Oates was thought to have died.

Another famous Alabamian William Lowndes Yancey is buried in "old Oakwood". He was considered one of the "firebrands", the men who wanted secession and convinced other Southerners to secede. He was a delegate to the Alabama Secession Convention in 1861 and served as a Senator from Alabama in the Confederate Congress from 1862 to 1863.

Varina Howell Davis's father, William Burr Howell is buried in Oakwood. I have seen his grave.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Correspondence of Two Confederate Soldiers, the Searcy Brothers

  In the Winter 1994 Alabama Heritage Magazine, my attention was caught by an article titled "When Shall Our Cup Be Full - The Correspondence of Confederate Soldiers James T. and Reuben M. Searcy"  by Maxwell Elebash.

The story of the Searcy brothers, like many other young men during the War Between the States, is revealed in their wartime correspondence with each other and to family members in their hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Author Elebash, the great-great nephew of these men, was the great-grandson of their younger brother George Alexander Searcy.  Elebash writes: "more than 150 letters from James and 33 from Reuben survive. From this correspondence, a moving tale unfolds, one similar to countless others in the South, but unique in that the Searcy brothers were literate individuals as well as astute observers of the people and events around them."

Shortly before the December 28, 1862 battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee,  James Searcy wrote: "We are on the eve of a big battle...Orders have already come - I go into battle with a full hope and trust and confidence in God - both as regards my own welfare - and that of my country. I feel more for Reuben than for myself - God go with us."

James survived the battle but his younger brother Reuben was mortally wounded. On January 7, Reuben died. His brother James was with him when he passed from this world to the next. James wrote "He (Reuben) died for his country. He died not fearing - but welcoming death, as a Christian, and was attended in his sufferings a great deal better than most soldiers are, receiving a decent burial."

After the war, James became a doctor and in 1867 succeeded his father as president of the Alabama Insane Hospital. He named his eldest son Reuben.