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Southern Heritage <br>News and Views: Confederate Memorial Day in Dixie

Monday, April 18, 2016

Confederate Memorial Day in Dixie

By: Calvin E. Johnson, Jr., Speaker, Writer of short stories, Author of book “When America stood for God, Family and Country” and Chairman of the Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans Confederate History and Heritage Month committee.

1064 West Mill Drive, Kennesaw, Georgia 30152, Phone 770 330 9792 or 770 428 0978

Tuesday April 26th is Confederate Memorial Day in Georgia when the Constitution of the Confederate States of America will be placed on display in Athens, Georgia. Read more at:

Confederate Memorial Day became a legal holiday in Georgia in 1874 by an act of the Georgia General Assembly and bill signed by then Governor James Smith, who also served as Confederate Colonel, Lawyer and Congressman.

April, Confederate History Month, 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. It is also the month the War Between the States began and ended.

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. Other Southern States recognize this day, which began as Decoration Day, on May 10th and June 3rd.

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 her Father.

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.

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' memorial.

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.

Read more about Confederate History Month and Confederate Memorial Day on face book at: 


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