of the Confederate Monument in Covington – One of the Largest Crowds Ever Assembled in Town
Playing Bands, Waving Flags, Marching Soldiers and Patriotic Speeches – Gala Day for the Old Veterans
After many years of zealous work and activity on the part of good women and patriotic men of our county and many liberal donations on the part of generous persons outside who love the memories of the lost cause, the Confederate monument erected by the admirers of courage and devotion to duty as displayed by the soldiers of Tipton County who were killed during the war, who have died since that time, and who are still living at last, stands complete on the public square in Covington. It is situated south of the courthouse and faces Main Street. The monument is made of Westerly granite and its weight is nearly 50,000 pounds. It is surmounted (as will be seen by looking at the excellent illustration of it on our first page) by a heroic representation of a Confederate soldier, made of bronze. The figure is handsome, graceful and soldierly looking, is attired in uniform, stands in the attitude of watchfulness and expectation, with drawn sword in right hand and left hand resting on his belt. On the north side of the monument. Are their names “Tishomingo” and “Harrisburg,” on the east, “Chickamauga” and “Perryville” on the west, “Kennesaw” and “Franklin.” The main next script inscription, which is on the South, reads as follow.
The brick foundation is raised about two feet above the elevation of the ground. A mound of earth has been raised to the level of the brick foundation, and this will later be handsomely paved with concrete forming a walk all the way around it. A fence will also be built around it as soon as the work can be done. The monuments first cost was $2,000, and the expense connected with the building of the fence, laying of the walks, incidentals, etc., will foot up at least $200 more.
Tipton County furnished more than a thousand soldiers to the cause of the Confederacy. No better evidence of their bravery and act of service could be cited than the fact that about fifty per cent of them fell on the field of battle and yielded up their lives for the cause they held dearer than any other, and died from disease in camps and in Northern prisons. Not more than fourth of Tipton County’s soldier boys are living today. It has often been said and many times substantiated by records and the many scars they bear, that are county furnished as good soldiers as those who composed the flower of Lee’s or any other army, and that she may also furnish more of them than any other county in the South, in proportion to population.
The meeting of the old soldiers here on the day of the unveiling made pathetic scenes in many instances. Some had seen each other the last time when they had laid down their arms to enter peaceful pursuits, and some had not met before since they marched side by side and fought over the dead bodies of their comrades on bloody fields of conflict. The love one Confederate soldier bears for another is something wonderful, and though their hands are gray and their beards grizzled, they often almost break down when they meet an old comrade. We have lately chronicled striking instances of their love and devotion to one each other, involving the expenditure of their means, brotherly kindness, and generous aid in times of sickness and pecuniary trouble.
It was that noble old man, Col. Richard H. Munford, who peacefully passed away in March 1884, after a long life of usefulness and good works, who gave Covington her beautiful cemetery, and who furnished his own flesh and blood to fight for the lost cause, who first conceived the idea, back in the early seventies, of building a monument to the memory of Tipton county’s soldiers, and started the fund for its erection by a most generous donation, which formed the nucleus of the sum now on hand. When this good old man passed away, he left the matter in good hands. prominent among which was his daughter, Mrs. Sarah M. Holmes, now of Memphis, and this noble Southern woman, in conjunction with many other wives of old soldiers and patriotic men, has never ceased working for the carrying out of this cherished object.
Soon after the donation of Colonel Mumford, the Tipton County Confederate Monument Association was organized, which is at present composed of Col. Wm. Sanford, president , Joseph Forsyth, vice-president, Col. J. U. Green, secretary, J. A. Crofford, treasurer, with an executive committee composed of Capt. C. B. Simonton, Chairman; Col. J. U. Green, secretary; Col. Wm. Sanford, Capt. D. A. Merrill, Joseph Forsyth and N.W. Baptist. This association has been collecting funds through these years made at the annual reunions given by accepting donations from outside parties and by other means. The young ladies of the County and young men, the latter of whom have given several benefit concerts for the cause, are deserving also of due praise in this connection.
The monument was selected by the executive committee of the association and this committee has succeeded so admirably in its work that all are pleased with the good taste and efficient work. The design agreed upon by the committee was well carried out in its building by the Peter and Burghard Stone Co., of Louisville, Ky., through their local agent at this place, Mr. J. West Green, who has worked conscientiously in fulfilling the contract to the letter. Mr. Robertson, the representative of the stone company, spent most of the last week with many assistants in getting the monument in position and finished his work Saturday evening, after which he put on the veil which covered the handsome statue until Wednesday.
THE UNVEILING CEREMONIES
The visitors coming on trains, were met at the depot by the reception committee, and were taken in charge, as were also those who came in private conveyances. Each soldier was given a badge of white ribbon, on which was inscribed “Veteran, May 29th, 1895.” The soldiers formed in front of Dr. Hall’s under command of Chief Marshall J.F. Dickson, assisted by Col. W. F. Taylor, of Memphis, and Esq. S. H. Mitchell, of Mason. The line of march was led by the Brighton Band, followed by Company A Confederate Veterans of Memphis, the Confederate soldiers from various companies forming in lines behind them. The line of march was taken for the stand, and when the procession reached the square, the soldiers filed off to the right. Passing around the square and entered the large stand erected for the occasion on the east side.
On the stand was seated the officers of the veteran company, the executive committee of the Monument Association, the speakers of the occasion, the forty-four young ladies representing the States, the choir Mrs. Isabella Boyd, who represented “Mother of the Confederacy” and Mrs. W. A. Black, representing “Columbia.” Mrs. Sarah Calhoun, who also had several sons in the war, was invited to take a seat with them. To the right of these noble ladies were seated Rev. W. H. Adams, who offered the opening prayer. A number of distinguished visitors and old Confederate soldiers were also given seats on the stand. Immediately on calling the assemblage to order, Col. Sanford, master of ceremonies, called on the choir, which sang “America.” He then invited Rev. Mr. Adams to invoke the divine blessing. Mrs. Isabella Boyd was then presented to the audience, after which she assisted the thirteen young ladies in singing “My Maryland.”
Mrs. Henry Sherrod recited “The Conquered Banner.” Miss Sarah Hill then pulled the cord that unveiled the monument with appropriate remarks. The band next struck up “Dixie” and the monument stood in full view and was greeted with shouts from thousands of voices. Mr. West Green then arose on behalf of the contractors and tendered the monument to the Association in brief, but appropriate remarks, which President Sanford accepted. The choir sang “Bonnie Blue Flag,” the audience joining in the chorus. Miss Vivian Poindexter read an original poem for the occasion which appears below.
HEROES IN GRAY Peace with gentle sceptre reigns O’er all Columbia's lands, Across the Mason-Dixon line, The Blue and Gray shake hands. Both were worn by gallant men – for heroes all were they; But we are filled with a tender love For those who wore the Gray. For those who left their peaceful homes And braved the shot and shell, Who gave their lives in the hour of need For the cause they loved so well. Whether that cause was right or wrong, Is not for us to say. Enough–they fought for Southern homes and wore the Southern gray. When the trump and drum was sounded At the roaring of the guns, Forth to the field of conflict Rushed Dixie’s stalwart sons. Among those valiant heroes, and foremost in the fray, Were the gallant boys from Tipton, Wearing the dear old gray. Theirs the glorious privilege Of joining in the fight, And laying down their noble lives For what they thought was right, They murmured not at hardships – For well content were they To take their stand in Dixie's land And wear old Dixie’s gray. Though now on history's pages. Their valorous deeds are told, And on the shining scroll of fame Their names have been enrolled, Yet in their memory we No nobler thing could say Than that they fought for Southern homes And wore the Southern gray. And now, once more in Southern breeze, Let Dixie’s banner wave, As we pay our loving tribute To Tipton's heroes brave And when the gloom that shrouds the tomb Has vanished all away. Theirs would be an honored place With those who wore the Gray We this morn, with swelling hearts, This monument unveil, Too men unborn, in future years, ‘Twill tell a noble tale. This man in bronze, with head erect, Stands ready for the fray– Fit emblem, he, of Tipton’s sons Who loved and wore the Gray.
Colonel Sanford next call on the speakers present for addresses in the order of their names. G.W. Smitheal, Capt. Alex Merrill, Joseph Forsyth, Dr. T. W. Roane. Capt. Jas. I. Hall, Capt. D. J. Wood, Peyton J. Smith, N. W. Baptist and Dr. J. R. Sanford. Only three of the above responded to the call, viz: Messrs Smitheal, Merritt and Baptist. Mr. Smith rose from his chair on the stand and made his apologies for not speaking, in a few well-chosen words. After this, Mrs. Boyd as “Confederacy,” Mrs. Black as “Columbia,” and forty-five young ladies representing the States of the Union, sang “Star Spangled Banner.” Capt. C. B. Simonton was then called on and made a short address. The speakers confined themselves to historical facts and incidents of the war and were interesting and vivid in their portrayal, eliciting in the loudest applause from the vast audience. The band, at the close of the speeches, played “Yankee Doodle,” after which the choir sang “Columbia the Gem of the Ocean.”
This closed the exercises of the morning. Col. Sanford then announced dinner and said every Confederate soldier would be provided for by the citizens of the town and county. Dinner was spread in the courthouse yard and in many of the beautiful yards around the square. So far as we have been able to ascertain the dinner, furnished was ample for everyone and was composed of the best things that could be collected by our good housewives.
In the afternoon at 1:30 o’clock Col. Sanford again called the assembly to order. Gen. J. Dupuy, of Memphis, made a short address, and Capt. Simonton read a letter from Col. T. B. Edgington, which is published elsewhere. Capts. J. P. Young and W. W. Karnes, Cols. W. L. Duckworth and W. F. Taylor also responded to calls and made good short speeches. Mr. Green Williams, of Company A, sang “Ise Gwine Back to Dixie” and “Sewanee River,” in the chorus of which he was joined by the company. Nothing that transpired during the day seemed to stir up more enthusiasm.
The veteran company then formed and gave a short exhibition drill firing three salutes. This ended the day’s exercises. Altogether the affair was one of the grandest ever given in Covington and will long be remembered by old and young as long as they live. (The Covington Leader, 31 May 1895)