THE LAURENS COUNTY CONFEDERATE MONUMENT

MONUMENT TO THE VALIANT SOLDIERS

OF THE LOST CAUSE



For one hundred years it has stood tall facing the morning sun. It faces east for an optimum view from the center of town and not because of any symbolism. About ninety-six years ago the Daughters of the Confederacy started a fund-raising campaign for the erection of a monument to Laurens County's Confederate veterans. After four years of bitter and divisive debates, the memorial statue was dedicated in the presence of a crowd of thousands a century ago on April 26, 1912.

The owner of the Idle Hour restaurant was one of the first to sponsor a benefit for the monument. After nearly four years of planning, the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Confederate Veterans signed a contract for the monument in the spring of 1908. The monument committee was led by J.A. Thomas. Thomas was a native of Dublin who was a teenage veteran of the war and later rose to the rank of Brigadier General as commander of the United Confederate Veterans in the 1920s. Other members of the committee were B.H. Rawls and W.W. Robinson. The contract with Cordele Marble Company called for the unveiling of the monument on Confederate Memorial Day in 1909. The committee decided to go with a smaller monument to cut the cost down to thirty-five hundred dollars.


The thirty-five-foot tall monument is constructed of marble. The base is made of white Georgia marble, while the soldier is carved from Italian marble. The statue, which sits in the center of a twenty by twenty-foot square, weighs 91,440 pounds. The first three bases are eight-feet square and the fourth is five- feet square. The bases are four and one half-feet high and the die and the plinth total five-feet in height. The middle spire is fourteen-feet tall. The seven-foot tall soldier stands in the position of at rest. He is clad with a fatigue uniform, complete with a cartridge box and canteen. Around the base are the accouterments of the four branches of the Confederate military. The infantry is represented by the crossed rifles, the cavalry by the crossed sabers, the artillery by the crossed cannon, and the navy by the crossed deck cannon and ramrod. The monogram of the Confederate States of America appears one-third of the way up on each side of the monument.



On the southern base of the monument the following inscription is engraved: "Fidelity when extended to him to whom it is justly due resembles the stars of Freidland that shine best in the blackest night." The reference to Freidland, also spelled Friedland, apparently relates to the escorts of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who was captured by Union Cavalry, less than three days after he and his prominent escorts stopped in Dublin in their attempt to escape to the Southwest or to England. On the western face of the monument are carved the words, "It has no speech nor language with its fold the dead who died under it lie fitly shrouded." The north side simply carries the salute, "In Memoriam our Heroes, 1861-1865."



The monument committee, already hurting from the failure of the fund drive to materialize to unveil the monument on Confederate Memorial Day in 1909, began the construction of a concrete foundation in the center of the intersection of Jefferson Street and West Jackson Street. The county commissioners believed the more proper, and safer, site would be on the southwest corner of the courthouse square. Though the age of the automobile was just beginning, the commissioners knew that auto traffic would increase over the years. Some may have contemplated that the intersection would later become the intersection of two major Federal highways. The board appropriated one thousand dollars for the project if the monument was actually placed on the courthouse grounds and not out in the street.



At first, local veterans relented and agreed to the move if the county was going to pay - an offer which would have pleased their wives and daughters and would have allowed the dedication in April. But, when it became apparent that the county could not donate, the veterans of the Camp Hardy Smith took issue. The former soldiers hired attorney W.C. Davis to prepare papers to enjoin the relocation of what was their monument, believing it was they who fought and they who should have the right to determine its location. The veterans were waiting for anyone to move their monument before springing into action.



The pressure was on. City street crews were paving the streets around the center of the city with vitrified brick. The city council warned that if the foundation was moved before the paving force finished the work so that the plot of ground could be paved, that the city would not allow the monument to be moved. The monument arrived, though the contracted payments had not yet been paid for. The ladies of the United Daughters of the Confederacy were getting anxious. They didn't want another Confederate Memorial Day to pass without a monument.



Meanwhile contractor I. C. Huffman was at work attempting to move the foundation from the intersection to the courthouse square. When it became apparent that the move could be made and somewhat easily, the veterans dispatched a courier to meet Judge Martin who was on the bench at Hawkinsville. Once the judge signed the interlocutory papers, another courier was standing by waiting to deliver it as rapidly as possible back to the courthouse. Once back in Dublin, the veterans were confident that Sheriff Flanders would personally serve them on Mr. Huffman and put a halt, albeit temporary, to the removal work.



Much to the consternation of the old Confederates, Judge Martin sent the technically defective papers back. Once the errors were corrected, they were resubmitted back to the judge in Hawkinsville. Huffman kept working and got the substructure out of the ground and began the processing of moving it the short distance to the square.



Judge John Martin, who was in town to grant charters to new corporations in the city, sided with the veterans and issued a restraining order prohibiting the county from moving the monument from its original site. Judge Martin reasoned that the commissioners could not legally donate to its establishment. Therefore, the commissioners would have no say so in the matter. The veterans, who preferred no monument at all to one on the courthouse square, cheered after winning the first round of the battle.



While the veterans were reveling in victory, the ladies of the UDC were making their own battle plans. A major offensive was set into action. Within a few weeks the fighting was over. How they did it and how many arms they had to twist or how many threats they had to make will never be known.



J.R. Broadhurst, chairman of the Street Committee of the City of Dublin, announced the compromised location. The committee voted not to place the monument in front of the courthouse. In fact, they moved it entirely out of the bounds of the street and decided to place the monument at the eastern apex of the triangle in front of the Carnegie Library, which was erected five years previously.



The veiled monument was placed just in time for its dedication on Memorial Day, 1909. A major obstacle blocked the unveiling of the monument. There was not enough money to pay the contractor. For three years the monument to the glorious feats of the Sons of the South stood beneath a veil and became an embarrassment to the entire county. Donations were slow because they were limited to one dollar per person.



The unveiling was delayed until June 3 in celebration of Confederate President Jefferson Davis' birthday. The committee hoped to place it between a pyramid of stacked cannon balls and a fountain. But the monument was still not ready to be dedicated.



Mrs. Adeline Baum, Mrs. E.J. Blackshear, Mrs. J.S. Almand, Mrs. J.D. Prince, and Mrs. J.A. Thomas led a year-long campaign to pay off the debt. The ladies of the community were able to raise $2,000 in the last year to reach their goal. After reaching a settlement with the contractor the dedication was set for April 26, 1912.



Col. C.A. Weddington presided over the Confederate Memorial Day services which were held in the Methodist Church. Dr. A.M. Williams gave the opening prayer, followed by a patriotic song. Col. Thomas, who was there during the last dark days of the war, spoke just before a solo song by Mrs. E. Fred Brown. Capt. L.Q. Stubbs eloquently spoke of the causes leading up to the war and brought the capacity crowd to tears when he spoke of the Confederate generals who fought on the southern side and held them up as worthy examples of the youth of the day.




Dedication - April 26, 2012


The Dublin Band, the Dublin Guards, the Veterans, the Daughters, Sons, and Children of the Confederacy, and the Boy Scouts paraded down Monroe Street to the monument.

"To the heroes of the sixties, I do unveil this monument," said Miss Adeline Baum. Miss Baum was assisted by nine children: Marie New, Rose Arnau, James Moore, Baum Dreyer, Jeanette Stubbs, Evelyn Prince, Evelyn Camp, Nina Peyton Smith, and Sarah Beall in unveiling the monument to G.B. Fout's choir's heart stirring rendition of "Dixie." Miss Baum, who would lead the founding of a chapter of the United Children of the Confederacy the following year, was given the honor of unveiling the monument for "her hard work and great love for the cause that have characterized their efforts all along."





C.A. Weddington, on behalf of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, presented the monument to Mayor E.R. Orr, who accepted it on behalf of the city. A dinner for the veterans at the pavilion at Stubbs Park concluded the ceremonies for the day.

The Confederate Monument stands as a lasting tribute not to the abominable institution of slavery, but to men of nobility. It represents the bravery of young boys who never owned a slave but took up arms in defense of their homeland, against what, in their time they saw as an eminent danger to their way of lives. Perhaps what we should endeavor to do is inscribed on the monument's eastern face: "Your sons and daughters will forever guard the memory of your brave deeds," not just the brave deeds of the children who bore the brunt of the Civil War, but to all the young men and women who fight wars started by men.
 
 

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