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Soldiers' Monument. Twenty thousand Confederate dead in Blandford cemetery. Unveiling by Miss Hill. [Richmond Dispatch, June 8, 1890.]

The ceremonies on Monday—the Monument—History of the Ladies' Association—How they succeeded.

Petersburg, Va., June 7, 1890.
Nearly twenty thousand Confederate soldiers are buried in Blandford Cemetery.

Over twelve thousand of this number were interred by the Ladies' Memorial Association on Memorial Hill after the close of the war; the other thousands were buried in the main by friends during and subsequent to the war within the old cemetery limits.

The dead come from all the States of the Confederacy, and all have been under the tender care of the Ladies' Memorial Association, whose patriotic services in this respect cannot be too highly honored and commended.

The association in this work of love and patriotism have brought the dead from the fields of Fredericksburg, Manassas, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Sharpsburg, and from nearly all the great battle scenes in the State.

Their graves kept Green.

Their graves have been kept green year after year, decorated with the most beautiful of Nature's offerings, and every possible respect [389] has been shown to the memory of the Southern heroes, and nearly all this time the association has kept in mind the crowning effort of their labors, the erection of a monument to the memory of the Confederate dead.

This last work has been finished, and on Monday the monument will be formally unveiled in the presence of many thousands of people, and with the most imposing ceremonies.

The Citys decorations.

To-day the city is being handsomely decorated, and by Monday this feature of the occasion will be complete. The decorations are far more elaborate and beautiful than on any previous anniversary of the day, and differ from the former decorations in this: that whereas many mourning emblems have heretofore been displayed, few of them are to be seen now. State, Confederate, and National colors are gracefully everywhere displayed along the streets to-day, and many of the designs are remarkably handsome and tasteful. All the indications are that the ceremonies will render the 9th of June a memorable event in the annals of our city.

Headquarters for visitors.

Reception committees of the Ladies' Memorial Association and the Confederate veterans will be in place on Monday morning to meet the visiting commands from other cities. The Petersburg Clubrooms will be the headquarters for the veterans and the Grays' armory for the military. At 1 o'clock P. M. all these commands will be dined at the Grays' armory as the guests of the Ladies' Memorial Association. They will be formally welcomed there in an address to be delivered by Mayor Charles F. Collier.

At 4 o'clock the visitors will assemble at the club rooms; A. P. Hill Camp at the Tobacco Exchange, and the visiting and local military at the artillery gun-house. The line of march will be formed on Sycamore street with the right resting at the Tobacco Exchange. The civil societies and citizens will follow in the rear. The line of march will embrace a number of the principal streets before the start is made for Blandford cemetery.

At the cemetery.

At the cemetery his Excellency Governor P. W. McKinney will preside over the ceremonies, which will be opened with prayer by Rev. J. W. Rosebro, acting chaplain of A. P. Hill Camp. [390]

After prayer a beautiful ode will be sung by the chorus of the Petersburg Musical Association.

The orator of the day, Colonel W. Gordon McCabe, will be introduced by Governor McKinney.

To Miss Lucy Lee Hill, daughter of General A. P. Hill, has been accorded the honor of drawing the veil from the monument, which act will be greeted with a salvo of artillery and volleys of musketry. After this the decoration of the graves.

The chief marshal of the day is Col. E. M. Henry, commander of the Grand Camp of Confederate Veterans of the State. He will be accompanied by the members of his staff, and assisted by Messrs. R. M. Dobie and Joseph E. Rockwell, of A. P. Hill Camp, as special aides.

The Grand Camp will hold its annual meeting here on Monday and elect officers, and will take part in the ceremonies.

Work of the committees.

The following are the committees of the Ladies' Memorial Association and A. P. Hill Camp who have acted in conference in the arrangements for the day:

Ladies' Committee on Invitation: Mrs. David Callender, Mrs. W. S. Simpson, and Mrs. S. H. Marks.

Ladies' Committee on Reception: Mrs. W. S. Simpson, Mrs. S. H. Marks, and Mrs. J. M. Wyche.

Veterans' committees.

On Invitation: Dr. W. E. Harwood (chairman), J. F. McIlwaine, R. M. Dobie, J. M. Newcomb and J. F. Jones.

On Reception: J. S. Northington (chairman), W. E. Badge, J. E. Caldwell, E. C. Bass, D. D. Atkins, George W. Hall, G. B. Gill, O. B. Morgan, and J. T. Parham.

The Monument.

The memorial column is of granite, of very handsome proportions, and stands thirty feet in height upon the apex of Memorial Hill. It was erected by the Petersburg Granite-Quarrying Company, under the immediate supervision of Mr. George Lumsden, of Richmond. Its site is a commanding one and its surroundings beautiful. Near by stands the superb mausoleum of General Mahone.

It has a base and two semi-bases, aggregating five feet in height; [391] a die with projecting cap, six feet; a shaft with bevilled edges, eighteen feet; and a capstone, making a total height of thirty feet.

The figure of a Confederate soldier in white bronze six feet in height, stands upon the capstone. This figure was cast by the Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport, Conn.

On the four faces of the die are four polished tablets with inscriptions. The northern face bears the coat-of-arms of Virginia and above this the eloquent legend: ‘1861-1865.’

The southern tablet records the names of the States of the Confederacy, and underneath the words: ‘Erected by the Petersburg Ladies' Memorial Association.’

The east tablet has the inscription: ‘The Crater. July 30, 1864.’

On the western tablet are the names of the city's soldiers who fell in the battles of the 9th and 16th of June, 1864, while attempting to repel the advance of the enemy on the city.

On the capstone appear the words:

Gloria Victis.

On the second base in bold relief are these words:

Confederate dead.

On the third or upper base is this inscription:

Plant the fair column on the vacant grave.
A hero's honors let a hero have.

Among the contributors to the fund for building this monument were General Early, General Beaureguard, General Gordon, and Messrs. Allen & Ginter, of Richmond.


The 9th of June.

The 9th of June, by reason of the memorable battle fought on the very limits of the city, in which Kautz's raiders were defeated and driven back, is justly regarded as a sacred day in the annals of the city, and it is the anniversary which has been selected, and has ever since the war been observed by the Ladies' Memorial Association and by the people at large to commemorate the deeds of Confederate valor. Many of our citizen soldiers were wounded on that eventful day, and many were taken prisoners and carried away to Northern prisons, where they were confined for months. Among these were Honorable Anthony M. Keiley, who, while in prison, wrote most of his book entitled ‘In Vinculis.’ Mr. Robert A. Martin was among the wounded, and Doctor W. E. Harwood lost an arm.


Hardly more than a year after the surrender at Appomattox, when the graves of Confederates around Petersburg were scattered in farmyard and in field, on hill-top and in ravine, while the Federal troops were encamped at the Fair-Grounds and there was no pretence or form of civil government, the Ladies' Memorial Association was organized.

The First organization.

Some time in May, 1866, a call for a meeting was published in the local press, and there was a hearty response. The Virginia women who then assembled determined to unite in a permanent body, and this was the organization which they agreed upon twenty-four years ago:

PresidentMrs. W. T.. Joynes.

Vice-PresidentsMrs. S. B. Paul, Mrs. William Mahone, Mrs. W. S. Simpson, Mrs. T. H. Pritchard, Mrs. Charles F. Collier, and Mrs. John Miller.

Recording SecretaryMrs. Stephen Fenn.

Corresponding SecretaryMrs. John Wyche.

Treasurer—Mrs. A. M. Keiley.

The work continued.

Time has brought about some changes. A few of those who composed the original body have died or else have removed from the [393] city, among the latter notably Mrs. Keiley, the wife of Hon. Anthony M. Keiley. But as the changes have been brought about the vacant places have been filled, and the work to which the ladies first devoted themselves has never wavered, has never been allowed to diminish, and now, finally their labors have been crowned with the success for what they have toiled so arduously. They have actually gone from ‘a headstone to a monument—from a wooden slab to a monument in bronze,’ as one of the original members said to-day to a Dispatch reporter.

The First managers.

The first Board of Managers appointed was on May 16, 1866, when these ladies, well known and honored throughout the whole of Southside Virginia, agreed to act as such: Mrs. R. G. Pegram, Mrs. J. H. Claiborne, Mrs. David Dugger, Mrs. Louisa McGill, Mrs. W. S. Simpson, Jr., Mrs.——Mahood, Mrs. Richard Bagby, Mrs. Alphonse Jackson, Mrs. General D. A. Weisiger, Mrs. Colonel—— Williams, and Mrs. P. B. Batte.

Their glorious object.

The ladies announced as their principal object the gathering together of the remains of the Confederate dead who were buried in this vicinity and their reburial in the precincts of Blandford cemetery; and furthermore, the decoration of these graves every year upon such an anniversary as should be thereafter fixed. How faithfully they have kept to their work, how in the face of poverty and the most trying obstacles they have fulfilled their pledge, the neatly-trimmed graves in Blandford will attest.

Bodies from Gettysburg.

Not content with gathering together the bones of the dead near this city, they actually brought here the mortal remains of brave Virginians who died at Gettysburg, as well as at Fredericksburg, Seven Pines, and Antietam. Then, when the section devoted to the known and unknown in our cemetery had been beautifully turfed, when neat head-boards had been raised over each grave, when all had been done that could be done, and a memorial arch raised its bow over the braves that slept, then these noble women addressed themselves to the task of rearing a fitting monument to crown their work through the sad years of the past.


All woman's work.

A Dispatch reporter saw this afternoon one of the ladies who for years has been striving and working most nobly for the end which has at last been attained—Mrs. William S. Simpson.

‘How did you get the money?’ she was asked.

‘By begging for it,’ was the reply. ‘We received it in contributions of every conceivable amount, from $100 to ten cents. We made personal appeals on the streets to our friends; we sent out circulars; we wrote to friends in the North and South—from New York to New Orleans. We never lost heart; and so, in spite of all our set-backs, in spite of the slowness with which our appeals were answered, we finally got a sufficient amount of money in hand to pay for our monument.’

Thus spoke a lady who can tell from experience how hard it is to carry a popular subscription to success. For many years she has been the honored secretary of the Ladies' Memorial Association, and her books will show how faithfully she has labored. To all the members, however, belongs praise without stint.

Their earliest labors.

With what obstacles they were at first confronted only those who have been through such an ordeal can imagine. Their first duty was to enclose the graves of the dead Confederates who had been buried near the poor-house farm, this, too, at a time when a Federal officer was acting as mayor of the city, and when the notes from the bugles of the Federal trumpeters quartered at the Fair Grounds floated through the city. Never faltering, never discouraged, always abounding in good works, they stuck nobly to their self-imposed task, and to-day they are on the eve of reaping the harvest which they sowed in tears, nourished in adversity and brought to a glorious fruition. The Ladies' Association of Petersburg is the pride of all our citizens, and justly so, because they have succeeded where others could see only failure and disappointment.

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