Spartanburg County Confederate soldiers to be honored

By Linda Conley

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Spartanburg County Confederate soldiers will be honored in a ceremony next weekend by their descendants.

The S.C. Division of the Children of the Confederacy and a chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and a camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans are holding a monument rededication at 5 p.m. Aug. 14 in Duncan Park. If it rains, the event will move to the American Legion on West Park Drive.

Activities include placing a wreath at the 40-foot marker, presenting the history of the monument and reading soldiers’ letters.

“The UDC (United Daughters of Confederacy) places a wreath at the monument every year on Confederate Memorial Day, but it isn’t usually a public event,” said Anne Elliott, a member of the UDC. “Spartanburg has one of the largest Confederate monuments.”

Historical groups are making the program a public event because this is the 100th anniversary of the marker erected in Spartanburg County. In January 1910, city and county leaders joined with business merchants and school children to sign a contract to build it.

Work was completed by summer and the cornerstone laid in August 1910. The structure was located on South Henry Street in the intersection between the post office and Bethel United Methodist Church. The S.C. Division of United Confederate Veterans held a two-day annual reunion in Spartanburg and the marker dedication was done in conjunction with the event.

“People came from around the Carolinas to attend,” said local historian Doyle Boggs. “Three thousand people and 2,500 Confederate veterans attended.”

As the soldiers got older, Boggs said reunions were common. The monument was built 45 years after the Civil War and done at a time when descendants wanted to preserve their memory. Most towns built monuments shortly after the war.

“Spartanburg’s monument is impressive,” Boggs said. “The granite column was originally intended to be used in the Statehouse building in Columbia.”

The monument stood in the heart of South Church Street for 56 years until plans were made to widen the street. One historical account indicates the marker was considered a traffic hazard and moved to its present location in Duncan Park in 1966. The project was done without any fanfare possibly because it came at the height of racial integration and no Confederate soldiers were living.

Honoring Confederate soldiers always creates controversy because of the debates surrounding slavery and the Civil War. Groups involved in the rededication said the event is to honor their heritage and help people learn something about their ancestors who fought in the war.

“Most people don’t know there is a monument and others don’t know where it is,” said Bill Geen, a camp commander in the Sons of Confederate Veterans. “If you don’t remind people of their heritage, they will lose it.”

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