is Confederate History Month of Remembrance
Calvin E. Johnson, Jr.
April is an important month in America's history. The
Great Locomotive Chase, where Union spies attempted to steal the
Confederate Locomotive "The General" and destroy rail lines and bridges,
took place on April 12, 1862. The month of April has become to be known as
Confederate History and Heritage Month.
Please share this story with your family.
The Congress of the United States has officially in
past years recognized America's war of, 1861 to 1865, as the War
Between the States. This tragic war claimed the lives of hundreds of
thousands of brothers, uncles and husbands. Though they were enemies on
the battlefield, after the war, the men of blue and gray sponsored
reunions at such places as Gettysburg. The soldier told war stories while
the United States and Confederate flags flew briskly in the warm summer
Why do some schools ignore the teaching of American
history? Boys and girls once learned about American soldiers who for over
200 years marched off to war. The church hymn book once included "Onward
Christian Soldiers." The young people read about: George Washington,
Robert E. Lee and Booker T. Washington. Northern and Southern children
stood up proudly to sing patriotic songs from a standard song book that
After the end of the War Between the States, Northern
and Southern women formed memorial organizations. They made sure all
soldiers were given a Christian burial and a marked grave. Memorial Days
were begun in many states North and South of the famous Mason-Dixon Line.
Confederate graves were also cared for in the North and Union graves in
the South. Great monuments were also erected that still cast a giant
shadow over many town squares and soldiers' cemeteries across the U.S.A.
April 26, has become to be recognized as Confederate
Memorial Day in many states. For over one hundred years the Ladies'
Memorial Association, United Daughters of the Confederacy and Sons of
Confederate Veterans have held memorial services on or near this day.
Other Southern States recognize this day ,which began as Decoration Day,
on May 10th and June 3rd. Confederate President Jefferson Davis was born
on June 3rd.
April, Confederate History and Heritage Month, is
significant as it is the month the War Between the States began (1861) and
Efforts to mark Confederate graves, erect monuments and
hold memorial services were the idea of Mrs. Charles J. Williams. It is
written that she was an educated and kind lady. Her husband served as
Colonel of the 1st Georgia Regiment during the war. He died of disease in
1862, and was buried in his home town of Columbus, Georgia.
Mrs. Williams and her daughter visited his grave often
and cleared the weeds, leaves and twigs from it, then placed flowers on
it. Her daughter also pulled the weeds from other Confederate graves near
It saddened the little girl that their graves were
unmarked. With tears of pride she said to her Mother, "These are my
soldiers' graves." The daughter soon became ill and passed away in her
childhood. Mrs. William's grief was almost unbearable.
On a visit to the graves of her husband and daughter,
Mrs. Williams looked at the unkept soldiers' graves and remembered her
daughter as she cleaned the graves and what the little girl had said. She
knew what had to do.
Mrs. Williams wrote a letter that was published in
Southern newspapers asking the women of the South for their help. She
asked that memorial organizations be established to take care of the
thousands of Confederate graves from the Potomac River to the Rio Grande.
She also asked the state legislatures to set aside a day in April to
remember the men who wore the gray. With her leadership April 26 was
officially adopted in many states. She died in 1874, but not before her
native state of Georgia adopted it as a legal holiday. It is still
officially recognized in Georgia today.
Mrs. Williams was given a full military funeral by the
people of Columbus, Georgia and flowers covered her grave. For many years
a yearly memorial was conducted at her grave following the soldiers'
Robert E. Lee said,
Duty is the sublimest word in
the English language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You
should never wish to do less."
The South can be proud of their men and women who
served this nation from the Revolutionary War to the War in Iraq. It is
important to also remember those men and women who defended their homes,
families and states during the War Between the States.
Among the gallant women was Captain Sally Tomkins, CSA
who was the first woman to be commissioned on either side of the War
Between the States. Commissioned by Jefferson Davis, she took care of
thousands of soldiers in Richmond, Virginia until the end of the war.
Those who served the Confederacy came from many races
and religions. There was Irish born General Patrick R. Cleburne, black
Southerner Amos Rucker, Jewish born Judah P. Benjamin, Mexican born
Colonel Santos Benavides and American Indian General Stand Watie who was
born in Rome, Georgia.
Lest We Forget!
Please contact the Sons of Confederate Veterans or
other historical organizations about the events during Confederate History
and Heritage Month. Be a part of this month long tribute, in April, to the
men and women of Dixie.
A native of Georgia, Calvin Johnson lives near the
historic town of Kennesaw, home of the locomotive "The General" from the
War Between the States. His email is: