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[125]

Battleflag of the South Flies on English Lawn. From the Times-dispatch, December 7, 1907.

Singular devotion of a foreigner to lost Cause Arouses interest of Veterans—Wished to serve in War— banner has been raised and lowered every day for nearly forty years.


To Gerald Smythe, Esq., of England, Lee Camp, of this city, has paid merited tribute in recognition of singular devotion on the part of a foreigner to the Lost Cause, so dear to the hearts of the veterans of the South. The appreciation of the camp is expressed in a letter to Mr. Smythe informing him of his election as an honorary member of the body—a signal honor, rarely bestowed.

The matter was brought to the attention of the camp in a letter from Captain W. Gordon McCabe to Judge George L. Christian. During the summer Captain McCabe spent several months abroad, and while in England he became acquainted with a most unusual circumstance, which he communicated to the veterans at length through the letter to Judge Christian. The incident is best described in the words of Captain McCabe himself.

A writer in the London Times, in reviewing, in October, Sir George Trevelyan's “American revolution,” had made a bad blunder touching the ancestry of General Charles Lee, confounding the Cheshire family with that from which sprung “the Lees of Virginia.”


The days of old.

I wrote a letter to the Times correcting the blunder, and, fortunately, dated it from my London club, “The Athenaeum.” On the afternoon of the day on which it was published came to me a most cordial letter from Gerald Smythe, Esq., one of the solicitors for the London and Northwest Railway, stating that he would greatly like to meet me, and proposing that I should [126] at once come to his home at Putney for luncheon or dinner, or, as they say in England, to “dine and sleep.”

He wrote me that he was an ardent “Confederate” ; had long been a correspondent of Captain Robert E. Lee, of “Romancoke,” and added that, if I would come he could promise me a sight that would vividly recall to me “the days of old.”

Within a few days I accepted his invitation, and you can imagine my immense surprise, when, after a hearty hand-shake, he led me on to his lawn and pointed to a tall flagpole from which dallied the old “battleflag” consecrated to us by so many fond memories. He told me that his family had been soldiers for generations; that his father had been a captain in the English Army, and that he had longed as a boy to quit school, cross the ocean, and share the fortunes of the Confederacy. But from that time he had remained a sturdy and steadfast “Confederate,” and every day for nearly forty years has flown the Confederate flag on his lawn. The flag is regularly raised at sunrise, lowered at sunset, and placed at half-mast on April 9th, October 12th, the anniversaries of the surrender and of General Lee's death.

I found his library full of books relating to our war, and was amazed at his minute knowledge of our Virginia campaign.

Such invincible and romantic devotion to the “Lost Cause” merits, I think, proper recognition on the part of us old Confederates, and it has occurred to me that it would be eminently fitting that Lee Camp should honor him with honorary membership in that veteran organization.

‘I need not say that not in the remotest manner did I ever hint to Mr. Smythe that I should propose such a thing, and if he is so elected the honor will come to him as a complete surprise. But I know that it would also prove an immense gratification to him.’

The letter aroused the greatest interest among the veterans, and the camp, as stated, unanimously elected Mr. Smythe an honorary member, and a letter was at once drafted by the secretary, to be mailed to him in England.

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