SOUTH CAROLINA: State Offices Closed for Confederate Memorial Day
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – State offices across South Carolina are closing for Confederate Memorial Day.
The holiday itself was Sunday, marking 152 years since Southern Gen. Stonewall Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson died after he was accidentally wounded by his own troops.
But since May 10 was on a Sunday, the holiday for state workers is on Monday this year.
Several other states in the South also have official holidays to honor the Confederacy, although the dates vary.
MISSISSIPPI: Confederate Memorial Day Observed
After discovering his great grandfather, James Jefferson Mott, served in General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and participated in the Confederates’ surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of Potomac at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, Charles Mott of Laurel wanted to pay tribute.
Mott was one of six relatives of former Confederate Army veterans to participate in a Confederate Memorial Day service Monday on the lawn of the Lauderdale County Courthouse in Meridian. Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia are the only three states in the U.S. that celebrates the last Monday in April as Confederate Memorial Day.
For Mott, a member of the Jones County Rosin Heels 227 Sons of Confederate Veterans out of Laurel, the annual memorial service is an important reminder of the South’s heritage.
“Once I found out that my great, grandfather, James Jefferson Mott, served in the 13th Mississippi, Company K of the Pettus Guard, I’ve wanted to do this in his honor,” Mott said. “He fought in a number of battles and was there when General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House. After the surrender, he walked back to Kemper County, Mississippi. It took him two months.”
That perseverance was the subject of the service conducted by DeKalb pastor Chris Gully.
“We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘The South Will Rise Again,'” Gully said. “This is not a political statement, but one throughout history of our overcoming and persevering.”
Elliott Poole and his brother Knox Poole from Alabama make Mississippi and Alabama’s Confederate Memorial Day a weekend affair. Sunday they participated in a memorial service at Lauderdale Springs near Lauderdale where 1,020 Confederate troops and 80 Union troops are buried.
“The vast majority of them are unknown,” Knox Poole said.
Elliott Poole and Becky Tomerlin, placed the memorial wreath on the Lauderdale County Courthouse lawn after Mott’s Rosin Heels’ made its three-gun salute. Tomerlin represented the Winnie Davis 24 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It was one two chapters of the UDC in Meridian with the other being the Robert E. Lee 2561.
“While we’re the oldest Winnie Davis chapter in the state, we do things together with the Robert E. Lee chapter,” Tomerlin said. “We’ve been doing this for the last 20 years.”
For Elliott Poole, the reason for the remembrance is simple.
“These are our ancestors,” he said. “They fought with honor and we continue to honor them.”
Only nine of the 11 original Confederate states celebrate a Confederate Memorial Day with a state holiday. Louisiana, Kentucky and Tennessee will celebrate its memorial on June 3 which is the date of the Confederacy’s lone president, Jefferson Davis’ birthday. North Carolina and South Carolina celebrate the holiday on May 10 in honor of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson who was killed on that day during the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863. Florida celebrates April 26, while Texas has a Confederate Heroes Day on Jan. 19. Virginia and Arkansas celebrate memorials but no longer have a state holiday.
Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia celebrate the last Monday in April in conjunction with the April 26, 1865 surrender of General Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate Army to the Union’s William Tecumseh Sherman at Bennett Place in Durham, N.C.
According to the Associated Press, the roots of Confederate Memorial Day began with ceremonies immediately after the war. Various ladies’ memorial associations across the South in 1865 and 1866 worked to move bodies of dead soldiers from mass battlefield graves to proper burials in cemeteries.
NORTH CAROLINA: Haywood County Civil War Tour Planned
With the help of Civil War enthusiasts in Haywood County, The Shelton House Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts has put together a full weekend of events to commemorate the last shot fired in the Civil War east of the Mississippi. Many of the same events are also planned for the weekend of June 12-13.
Learn about the last shot
Before visiting all the sites, learn about the Battle of Waynesville and the Surrender of the Western N.C. Army from Jule Morrow, Captain of the 25th NC Infantry Regiment. Morrow has been participating in Civil War re-enactments for many years. He will give a presentation at 7 p.m. Friday, May 8, at The Shelton House, 49 Shelton St., Waynesville.
Sulphur Springs ceremonies
Once you’ve let the story of the last shot sink in, visit Sulphur Springs Park on Timothy Lane in Waynesville at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 9, for a re-enactment led by the 25th NC Infantry Regiment. The re-enactment will occur again at 3 p.m.
At 11 a.m. members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy will give a presentation at the park before leading everyone down the street to lay a wreath at the Civil War monument. Former chapter president Aileen Ezell said she is very excited to have two Haywood County men present who are descendants of Civil War soldiers — Col. William Holland Thomas’s great-great grandson William Thomas Byrd and Capt. Robert Conley’s great grandson John Row. Conley was the man who actually fired the famous last shot in Waynesville.
Daughters of the Confederacy built and placed the monument at 1049 Sulphur Springs Road, and members will give a brief history about it on Saturday.
“In 1922 the Daughters had a district meeting in Asheville and it was suggested we build a monument to the last shot fired,” Ezell said. “All the chapters contributed. It was built on our own property and the dedication was in 1923.”
Gravesite memorial events
The Sons of the Confederate Veterans Col. William Holland Thomas Camp 2231 chapter will have a wreath-laying ceremony at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, May 9, at Green Hill Cemetery.
At 2 p.m., memorial speeches will be given at the Civil War market at Green Hill Cemetery where many officers and soldiers of the Last Shot Battle are buried. At 2 p.m. Sunday, there will be a worship and memorial service at Green Hill Cemetery honoring various Civil War veterans and a wreath-laying ceremony at the grave of Col. Thomas.
At 5 p.m. May 9, Bethel Rural Community Organization’s Historic Preservation Committee will host a Bethel Cemetery tour of several gravesites, including those of Pinkney Inman, members of the Inman family and other noteworthy individuals buried there. Historical data will be relayed about Bethel history, cemetery and grave marker data and the difficulty of the Civil War for the families that is typified by traumatic events that affected the Inman family. Following the cemetery tour, visitors may drive a short distance to view Cold Mountain.
If you’d rather take a break, cool off and have a drink and snack, The Strand theater at 38 Main St., Waynesville, will be showing “Gone with the Wind” at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 9-10.
Bethel Rural Community Organization has selected Civil War segments from its award-winning oral history DVD, “Walking in the Footsteps of Those Who Came Before Us,” to play at the Strand following the showing of “Gone With the Wind” on Saturday. The video will also be featured on Sunday just before to the showing. Chosen segments of oral history about Bethel Cemetery, the Inman family and the demise and burial of Pinkney Inman, protagonist in the “Cold Mountain” book and movie, are told by Inman family descendants.
On Monday, The WNC Civil War Round Table will hold its monthly meeting at 7 p.m. at The Strand. The public is welcome to attend to hear Gettysburg Park Historian John Heiser speak about the 26th NC Infantry’s involvement at Gettysburg on the first day of the three-day battle.
Shelton House events
The Shelton House just off Pigeon Street in Waynesville will offer commemorative Civil War events all day Saturday. Museum Curator Jackie Stephens will be giving museum tours all day. Visitors will learn about the history of the house that was built just after the war in 1875 and the Shelton family who occupied it. A Civil War exhibit in the house displays a Union soldier’s sword that was taken during the war by Stephen Shelton himself.
Other items include war medals, a copy of a photo taken in Haywood County at the 25th reunion of the Civil War, a replica of a Civil War-era dress, a Civil War cannonball that was found by the town of Waynesville near Frog Level and a satchel that was made by a Confederate solider while he was in a prisoner-of-war camp in Illinois.
For those looking to make some genealogical discoveries during their trip, The Shelton House has a roster of Haywood County soldiers who served in the Civil War.
The Shelton House lawn will be converted into a living history camp where re-enactors will set up tents just as they did during the war.
Re-enactor Anita Pruett will also lead a Civil War fashion show exhibiting the different uniforms and dresses worn during the era.
For those who want to venture out on their own this weekend, there are several other Civil War sites worth checking out.
To find Thomas’ Last Resting Place, look for the trails sign located in Greenhill Cemetery, Hillview Circle and Main Street in Waynesville.
The Battle House marker can be found right in front the town of Waynesville Municipal Building, located at 16 S. Main St., Waynesville.
Dozens of Confederate soldiers are buried at Locust Field Cemetery, located at Locust Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, across from the library in Canton. During the war, the church and cemetery was a muster site for the local 112th Beaverdam Militia Regiment, and a campground.
A marker for Kirk’s Raid is located at the Ghost Town in the Sky amusement park at 16 Fie Top Road, Maggie Valley. Col. George Kirk raided Waynesville in February 1865 — burning the home of Young Bennett in Cataloochee and a makeshift hospital for ailing Confederate soldiers along the way. As Kirk approached Soco Gap, Lt. Robert T. Conley’s sharpshooters of Thomas’ Legion attacked.
VIRGINIA: Riders Lay Wreath at Civil War Cemetery
A fortuitous set of circumstances has led to an impressive honor being bestowed on The American Legion Riders.
On the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, the Riders will lay a wreath at the Civil War Unknowns Monument located near Arlington House at Arlington National Cemetery. The monument houses the remains of 2,111 unknown soldiers from the Civil War, and was dedicated in September 1866 after the remains of soldiers from various battlefields were reinterred at Arlington. It was the cemetery’s first monument to unidentified soldiers.
The Riders originally had requested laying a wreath at Arlington’s more well-known Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the same day, but a mix-up with the date made that impossible. However, the Sergeant of the Guard suggested to the event planner that they lay a wreath at the often forgotten Civil War monument instead.
The Riders – supported by the Old Guard Combined Armed Forces Color Guard – will conduct a formal wreath-laying at the monument on May 23 at 1 p.m. A bugler from the U.S. Army Band, “Pershing’s Own,” will play at the event. Honored guests at the ceremony will include Gold Star families, American Legion dignitaries and Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, chancellor of the University of Richmond and a U.S. Marine veteran of World War II. Heilman, a member of the Legion Riders, is currently traveling 6,000 miles across the country on his Harley-Davidson to celebrate the end of World War II.
The Riders and their guests are invited to depart from American Legion Post 177 in Fairfax, Va., via a motorcycle convoy or chartered bus. To sign up for either, click here.