Confederate memorial service: A monumental experience

Date Published: 
May 16, 2014

For well over 100 years following the cataclysm known as the American Civil War, Delawareans who chose to fight for the South received little, if any, public recognition within the state. To rectify this situation, in 2007, the Delaware Grays, Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), Camp #2068, based in Seaford, organized the construction of a monument memorializing Delaware’s Southern patriots.

The SCV conducts an annual remembrance service to honor those whose names are inscribed on the Confederate monument located on the grounds of the Marvel Museum in Georgetown, Del., and to acknowledge those recently discovered to have served the South through an ongoing research program. This year, the service took place at the monument on April 26.

SCV Commander Jeffrey Plummer orchestrated the event that accredited an additional name placed on the monument — Thomas Musgrove of New Castle, who served with the Confederate 1st Maryland Artillery. To date, the monument recognizes the service of some 100 Delawareans.

The opening ceremony included a pledge of allegiance to the American flag, followed by a salute to the Confederate flag: “I salute the Confederate flag with affection, reverence and undying devotion to the cause for which it stands.”

In his remarks, Plummer expressed concern over the growing animosity nationally toward the Confederate battle flag, the symbol for many of Southern allegiance and pride. He cited recent incidents in cemeteries where Confederate flags have been confiscated from individual graves.

In a gesture to counter the situation, Plummer distributed small Confederate flags to audience members and requested that they place them on graves of Confederate partisans. For his part, he travels to Gettysburg periodically to place flags at Confederate monuments on the battlefield.

Chaplain Richard Jamison gave the invocation and read from an article, “Soldier Life in the Army of Northern Virginia.” Confederate soldiers had to provide much of their own equipment, and they, on the whole, resisted regimentation. Typically, their knapsacks were weighed down by a variety of necessities, such as utensils, writing materials, sewing kit, etc. They carried a blanket and oil cloth, and, in some cases, revolvers and Bowie knives. Since shoes were scarce in the South, many soldiers marched long distances barefooted.

Laura Wilson, president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) Caleb Ross Chapter #2635 in Seaford, welcomed the people who came to “honor those who fought for the South.” She encouraged the audience to locate gravesites of Delawareans who were Southern patriots, and to share that information with the SCV and UDC.

Wilson identified Mary Hill, who emigrated from Ireland through England to America in 1819, as the “Florence Nightingale of the Army of Northern Virginia.” Hill cared for wounded soldiers and corresponded with family members regarding their status. The UDC has since located and placed a granite marker on her grave in Louisiana.

Susan Hathaway, a “Virginia flagger,” was the keynote speaker at this event. She actively promotes the display of the Confederate flag. All four of her great-great-grandfathers fought for the South.

Hathaway was “inspired by the valor of Delaware Confederates” who had to travel south under threat of arrest and imprisonment to serve the Confederacy. Being unfamiliar with Delaware history, she expressed surprise that Kent and Sussex counties were pro-South, while New Castle supported the Union.

The speaker “was moved to realize that these men, unlike their Southern compatriots who returned home to be treated as heroes, were actually forced to hide their service, were shunned and treated with contempt, in many cases, after returning to their home in Delaware. Thanks to these fine [SCV] sons and [UDC] daughters, they are now being honored, and will forever be remembered!”

Plummer reiterated that the purpose that day was “to honor Delaware Confederate veterans who served during the War Between the States, and to continue to research and find more Delawareans who served — so they will not be forgotten. Our job is to see that does not happen to these brave Southern men in gray.”

For those who would like to visit the Delaware Confederate Monument, the Marvel Museum is located at 510 S. Bedford Street, Georgetown, DE 19947. For information, call (302) 855-9660, or go to the SCV #2068 website at http://descv.org/. SCV Commander Plummer can be reached on (302) 381-0785; UDC President Wilson at (302) 632-1261.

Bethany Beach resident Thomas J. Ryan is the author of “Essays on Delaware during the Civil War: A Political, Military and Social Perspective” (available at Bethany Beach Books or from his website, at www.tomryan-civilwar.com). Contact him at pennmardel@mchsi.com.