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[184]

The execution of the association's order was a work of some magnitude, and progressed slowly. It was necessary to have the statue carved in Italy, which caused some delay, and, moreover, the designer, Mr. A. A. Menezes, regarded the work as his masterpiece, and was desirous of having it as perfect as possible. The new year, therefore, was well advanced before the work was done and the finished monument placed on the site, a tribute to the Southern men who defended the city through those terrible days of siege, erected by the women who saw their heroism, and who had fed them when hungry, nursed them in sickness and when wounded, and, in many instances, closed their eyes when death had claimed them. Together they had borne the horrors of the siege, even more horrible, perhaps, to the non-combatant than to the soldier; for both shared the same privations, and neither age nor sex was safe from the iron shower that poured down, night and day, into the beleagured city. Having done what they could to comfort them while living, and having mourned them dead, the latest care of these devoted women was to adorn the last resting place of those who wore the gray.

Preparations for the event had long been in progress. Major-General S. D. Lee, by request, issued a general order inviting all Confederate veterans to attend. Special rates were obtained from railroads and steamboats. Distinguished speakers were secured to address the audience, and numerous committees gave their attention for weeks to the details that make success.

The result abundantly justified these patriotic efforts, the attendance being gratifyingly large and the enthusiasm displayed immeasurable. The program was singularly appropriate, and no ceremonies could have been more impressive. A large and brilliant assemblage, able and popular speakers, a considerable military display, one of the finest bands of music in the South and a large and thoroughly trained choir—all lent their aid to render the event a memorable one.

At noon, by special invitation of the ladies, the veterans and the visiting military assembled in the rotunda of the Vicksburg Hotel, where a collation, spread for a thousand guests, awaited them. This was a very happy feature of the program, and was served by the ladies, who were assiduous in attention to their guests.

It was fully 3 P. M. before the procession was formed, and the march to the cemetery, a mile and a half distant, was commenced.

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