MURFREESBORO, Tenn., Nov. 7., 1901.—This, perhaps, was the proudest day in the history of this beautiful little Tennessee city —when a handsome monument erected by this loyal people in commemoration of the valor of the Confederate dead, whose dust now mingles in the fields of this section, was unveiled with elaborate and dignified ceremonies. Fully 3,000 persons gathered at the Court Square this morning to witness the dedication of the memorial.
Intermingled in the vast assemblage were hundreds of veterans of the lost cause, many of whom had traveled miles to be present and pay tribute to their fallen comrades. Some of them had not been on the field since the days of the war. Perhaps half a hundred or more were present from distant cities, relatives of the gallant men who were swept down in the defense of principles they believed to be right and just. Here and there over the big audience which surrounded the stately structure were men and women, many of them bent with age, with tears trickling down their cheeks. These tears spoke forcibly the sentiment of the people, or at least their interest in the solemn, but at the same time happy occasion. Some of the old-time Southern melodies, as rendered by a bevy of pretty young ladies from Lebanon, were very striking, and as the sweet strains wafted out over the crowd, heads were bower: in remembrance of the fallen heroes.
By far the audience was the most distinguished that has gathered in Murfreesboro in years, likely in the history of the city. In the assemblage were many prominent sons of Tennessee, including the remnants of the Army of Tennessee. They were there from Major Generals down to the Johnny Reb who carried the musket. One happy feature of the dedication was that all of the comrades stood upon an equal footing; they were all comrades in the strongest sense of the word, engaged in a love feast. Among the more prominent men who were present were: Senator William B. Bate, Governor Benton McMillin, Hon. James B. Frazier, of Chattanooga; Hon. James D. Richardson, Hon. John C. Ferriss, of Nashville; Hon. E. D. Wilson, of Nashville; Judge Frank S. Wilson, Comptroller Theo. King, Hon. N. W. Baptist, Hon. J. N. McKenzie and Dr. J. B. Cowan, of Tullahoma.
WAS A BEAUTIFUL DAY.
Nature smiled upon Murfreesboro for the day. The sun was
shining brightly, a slight breeze afloat, just enough to rustle the Confederate flags and bunting, which were displayed in profusion over the business portion of the town. It was an ideal autumnal day.
In front of the monument Captain Richard Beard, master of ceremonies, had a large speaker's stand erected. Just over this improvised stand in a neat frame resting upon the massive testimonial of love and esteem, was the original Eighteenth Tennessee battle flag, which passed through some of the most terrific battles of the civil strife. With this flag, five color sergeants fell. The last man to carry the historic emblem was T. J. Nelson, who had it in charge on the memorable Friday evening of Breckinridge's charge. Underneath this flag were Confederate streamers,
Before the ceremonies commenced the young ladies of the Lebanon Orchestra took seats upon the stand. There were Mrs. Lillard Thompson, chaperone; Misses Emma and Edna Beard. Mary Barbee, Annie Hearne, Irene Neal, Sammie Carter. Anna May Thompson, Mrs. Harry Freeland, Mrs. A. S. McDowell, and Misses Gertie Fakes, Mary Prewett and Olive Mace. Then came the invited guests, as follows: Governor Benton McMillin, Hon. James D. Richardson, Dr. J. B. Cowan, H. E. Palmer, Hon. James P. Frazier, John C. Ferriss, Gen. William B. Bate, Judge S. F. Wilson, Dr. T. A. Kerley, Mrs. J. B. Murfree, D. P. Perkins, and Gen. H. H. Norman. In charge of the unveiling, Miss Julia Ransom and others.
Those to occupy places upon the stand had been seated, when Company B and Troop A, of Nashville, came marching up the wide road leading from the station. They carried their large flags, and as they fluttered in the little breeze the old "Johnny Rebs" were cheered lustily. Approaching the stand, they circled around the structure and during the ceremonies stood "at rest." They were received at the monument with a pretty demonstration, which the old comrades apparently enjoyed.
The master of ceremonies, Captain Beard, stepped to the front of the stand and presented Rev. T. A. Kerley, who delivered the invocation. In his prayer he paid homage to the dead who had sacrificed their lives upon the altar of their country; thanking the Lord for the love burning in the hearts of the people, for the surviving veterans who were present upoj1 the occasion. He asked for the blessing of all soldiers of the past, gathered again to express their devotion and love of those who had fallen in the mighty conflict. He said: "Let thy blessing rest upon these veterans in the time of peace and help us to be true citizens in everything that pertains to the high citizenship of our people. Help them to be true soldiers to all that is right and oppose everything wrong. May their lives be such as to win all to the higher principles of true manhood." He paid honor to the Confederate wives and sisters who had sacrificed their all in the vicissitudes of war and the dark days following the fall of the Confederacy. He dwelt at length upon their bravery in standing face to face with adversity and poverty during the long years of the struggle. He asked that the hand of God ever be with the noble women and guide them in their future laudable undertakings. "May they be shining lights to the whole land," he concluded.
Here the young ladies of the Lebanon Glee Club struck up a combination of stirring Southern melodies, ending with that soul-inspiring song, "Dixie." The enthusiasm of the assemblage knew no bounds. Their cheers rent the air.
Here the unveiling committee, composed of Captain Beard, Judge Richard Ransom and Captain Daniel Perkins, took charge of the exercises, assisted by General H. H. Norman. Miss Julia Ransom, one of Murfreesboro's fair daughters, arose from the center of the stand and pulled a small cord which unveiled one of the prettiest little monuments erected on a Southern battlefield. A thousand hands clapped their approval. Engraved upon the east face was this inscription:
"In commemoration of the valor of Confederate soldiers, who fell in the great battle of Murfreesboro, Dec. 31, 1862, and Jan. 2, 1863, and in minor engagements in this vicinity, this monument is erected."
On the north face is:
"Lest we forget 1861-1865." On the west face is:
"A monument for our soldiers, Built of a people's love." On the south face the inscription reads:
"Honor decks the turf that wraps their clay."
Following the unveiling, the boys of the Tennessee Industrial School band played. Their work was very creditable and well received.
ORATOR OF DAY PRESENTED.
Captain Beard then introduced Colonel Bennett H. Young, a brilliant Kentuckian, the orator of the day. In presenting the speaker Captain Beard made a few remarks, in which he referred to the trials and tribulations of those who raised the monument fund He said
that the monument should have been erected thirty years ago, telling Of the work of the old Monumental Association in the years gone by; how they raised $800 for the purpose, which was spent in the base. The work was taken up by the Daughters of the Confederacy, who, after years of constant and persistent effort, raised an additional $800, which was supplemented by $1,200 raised by the Palmer Bivouac. He said:
"There have been other monuments erected on the battlefields more gorgeous in design, but none on the face of the earth was ever erected for a higher or more noble purpose."
The master of ceremonies introduced Colonel Young, the orator, as a noble son of the Bluegrass State, which sent thousands of courageous and gallant men to aid the South, which fact, he said, was attested by the presence of their dead upon every battlefield in the West. These soldiers kept the lamps of chivalry in the hearts of many.
COLONEL YOUNG’S ADDRESS.
Colonel Young, the polished orator that he is, was at his best, and though he was at a disadvantage on account of the breeze carrying his voice toward the back of the stand, his delivery was excellent and his effort a masterpiece. He was eloquent and his frequent reference to the hallowed dead aroused the old-time enthusiasm of the Southern people gathered about him. Often his remarks were punctuated with violent outbursts of applause. He said in part:
"It is a great distinction to have been a Confederate soldier; it is a greater thing to have been a Confederate woman; it is a noble thing to have been a Tennessee Confederate, a representative of the great "Volunteer State" of the South that did so much to make the contest of the Southern people for liberty illustrious and immortal.
"Of the seventy regiments in the Confederate service which had the highest percentage of mortality, Tennessee had twelve. Four of these badges of honor were won here in the battles of Stone river. At Shiloh, fought on April 4, 6 and 7, 1862, of the ten regiments which experienced the most dreadful mortality, Tennessee had four. At Perryville, fought October 8, 1862, of the eight regiments sustaining the highest loss, Tennessee had seven, the Forty-first Georgia alone having a place alongside that of your state. Of the twenty-nine regiments having the highest percentage of loss at Murfreesboro, Tennessee had seven, and at Chickamauga, that awful holocaust, there were three Tennessee regiments among the sixteen which suffered the heaviest decimation. The infantry regimental number of the Tennessee troops passed the
100 1/2 mark and reach 154.
"In 1860 Tennessee had 160,000 men capable of bearing arms. Of these she put in over 120,000 for the Confederate service. Tennessee gave thirty-six generals, of whom seven died on the battlefield. She brought to the defense of the South two lieutenant generals, Forrest and Stewart, and. nine major generals,
FIRST TENNESSEE BATTLE.
"Beginning with the first fight on Tennessee soil on September 29, 1861, at Travisville, down to Germantown, in April, 1865, three years and eight months, 780 engagements were fought in Tennessee, and more than one-third of all the 2,2O0 skirmishes and battles which
marked the four years of death, havoc and destruction, took place within the limits of this Commonwealth.
DARK HOURS OF '63.
"In the crucial hour of 1861, when the people of the South appealed to the God of battles and placed their cause in his keeping, when millions of voices chanted :
"God save the South, God save the South, Her altars and her firesides, God save the South, now that war is nigh. Chanting her battle cry, Freedom or death,"
"In that period, so full of all that tested man's nobility and courage, out of Kentucky came thousands who loved right more than they loved their State Government, and followed principle rather than policy, and who left all that was dearest to man, who suffered expatriation, to cast in their lot with the men of the South. Forty thousand Kentuckians heeded this sacred call. Amid all the privations, sacrifices and dangers of that great contest they stood with you, Tennessee Confederates, to resist the invasion of your homes and to defend your firesides. It was not spoils they sought; it was not glory which beckoned them away from their State to yours; it was justice and truth as they saw them which ranged them on your side and impelle1l them to share your fortunes and all the trials fate should bring. A large percentage of Kentucky Confederate dead rest in your soil, and a common bereavement and burial brings Kentucky and Tennessee close together.
DEATH HAS THINNED RANKS.
"The pitiless hand of death, through thirty-seven years, has thinned the ranks of these Confederates, but they still love you, and, comrade, they glory in all that made you glorious, and with you they claim part of that transcendent renown which has made the name and the fame of the Confederate armies eternal.
"Nearly forty years have passed since the great conflict was fought near to where we stand, and which today you are commemorating by this monument. It takes rank as one of the great battles of the American war. Nine thousand killed or wounded on the Confederate side—one-fourth of the entire force engaged; 8,780 killed and wounded on the Federal side, and 3,500 prisoners, speak in unmistakable tones of the fierceness of the conflict."
Here the speaker unrolled the battle-scarred jacket he wore during the war, and as he exhibited the garment, with the remark that he would rather have it known that he had worn the gray than to be the greatest king on earth, the assemblage again became demonstrative.
''Bragg's army at Murfreesboro was composed in a large measure of Tennesseans, who receded from Tennessee with a sullen and grim courage which boded no good to the foes who sought to dispossess these men of their State and their homes. Of the forty regiments of Tennesseans with him—all were ready, if need be, to die in defense of Tennessee.
A SUPERB MONUMENT.
"This superb monument to our dead would not have been possible had it not been for the patience and zeal, the interest and usefulness of the women, who labored so long to erect this memorial. We call it 'ours' because it belongs justly to the Confederates. I doubt not that many who helped at the inception of the undertaking have been denied the happiness of witnessing its fulfillment, but we can feel their sweet presence though they passed over the river before success crowned their work. If they are not here we shall at least in gratitude remember them and their devotion to the cause and their absence alone mars the completeness of this occasion.
"The noblest and highest of the war's demands was to be worthy of the faith and trust of the Southern women, and it mitigated the anguish and bitterness of defeat to be able amid manly tears to look down into the tear-dimmed eyes of the women of the South and tell them that in all the conflicts and privations of that weary struggle, there had been nothing done or left undone which rendered the men of the Confederacy unworthy of what was required by its women. An now, after the lapse of long years, we find the same gentle, earnest, brave women with all the enthusiasm of their noble nature, erecting this splendid tribute to our comrades who went down in the storm of war, and thus keeping the record of those heroes who gave their blood as the seal of their fealty to the land of their love. Sincerest benedictions we utter for them. May the angels of blessing and peace hover over them in this life and at its end bring them joyfully to that place where there will be no tears, where monuments are not built, where death and sorrow never come.
ALL READY TO OBEY.
"There were none on that fateful field who were not ready to obey every call, to meet any fate, to respond to every order and to endure all that patriotic duty required at their hands. The battle of Murfreesboro has not received its just place in history. The casualties were as great as those at Shiloh, but Shiloh came in as the initial wave of destruction which was to sweep over the land, and it impressed the public mind and left memories on the public hearts which were more lasting than those probably of any battle fought outside of Gettysburg. If it be true that we had at Gettysburg 100,00 men, it will be seen that the percentage of loss was not any greater than at Murfreesboro. There were more men engaged at Shiloh, on the Confederate side, than were engaged> at Murfreesboro, and yet the loss in killed and wounded and missing was greater than at Shiloh; so that Murfreesboro stands alongside of Gettysburg, Chickamauga and Antietam. Very few, if any, of the battles of the war showed greater percentage of loss than was experienced on both sides at this battle, the valor of the troops engaged in which, you are this day assembled to commemorate.
NOT ALL TENNESSEEANS.
"The majority of those who sleep the sleep of death here are not Tennesseans. They were brought to Tennessee by noble, patriotic impulses and- are strangers in a strange land, but they gave up all for the right as they saw it; they made the most costly sacrifice man can make at the call of duty. The fact that those who loved them most will never come to weep at their sepulchers or place sweet flowers on their graves appeals with tenderest and most pathetic eloquence to the magnanimity of those for whose homes they fought, for whose liberty they died, and the care of their graves, unmarked— in many cases unknown—devolves upon those who are left a sacred trust. Somewhere in the Southland whence these unknown dead came, loving hearts mourn their loss. There are vacant chairs that will never be filled, there are firesides that will never be the same, because these heroes will never return, and there are broken circles where faithful ones will love on to the end, and in silence and tears keep sacred the memory of those who lie hidden in unmarked graves in this valley of Stone's river. They cannot sleep among their kindred and in most cases they do not rest 'Neath the parent turf, nor can the 'sunshine of their native sky shine sweetly on them' here, but I am sure that true, gentle, sympathetic hearts will guard these graves and keep the sod over them green until the great call from on high shall bring these dead once again into communion with those from whom war and death have so cruelly and harshly separated them.
"After all, comrades and friends, it was the man in the ranks, the man who carried the musket, who was the true Southern hero. The largest proportion of the courage and chivalry of the South was in the ranks, and the bravest men that died were those of whom history will never speak. Scouts, pickets, the men in the skirmish line, in the rifle pit, on the parapet, in the trench, the men who charged the batteries, who carried the colors, were the men who dared most, endured most and gave the most in that great struggle, the men who experienced the greatest privations, who exhibited the greatest bravery and the truest devotion and the super best courage, were the men who carried the guns and never reasoned why, but only dared to do and die.
SHOULD BE REMEMBERED.
"It is to this class of men to whom the South owes most, and their memory ought to be imperishable. There is glory enough in the defense which the South made for her liberty, to endow all her people who took part in that struggle with splendid renown. It is glory enough for any man to have worn the gray jacket, and of the thousands who possess that distinction, there are none who would exchange the humble uniform, typical of the grandest devotion to duty and the noblest patriotism, with its faded renown, for the jeweled coronet of any duke of any kingdom, which was inherited or won by manliness and courage.
"All the dead of our Confederacy are our treasure. All the precious blood that was poured out to defend the South is our inheritance. All the memories which gather about the thousands of battlefields involving innumerable instances of superb courage and splendid manhood—all, all belong to our Southland.
"Words are powerless to depict or paint the glory which lingers around the memories of the Confederate dead. Living, they met the requirements of every duty, they faced fearlessly every danger, they shrank at no sacrifice that patriotism exacted, and they denied their country no service its needs demanded. Two hundred thousand graves contain the dust of our heroes, 200,000 lives were the price we paid for our efforts to be free. Their glory is our glory.
"Magnificent host, superb assemblage of fate's immortals, we claim a share in your renown, and we count this joint tenancy in your splendid achievements the richest treasure earth can give.
ARMY OF TENNESSEE.
"I cannot close this address without reference to the magnificent record of the Army of Tennessee, which in many respects was the most gallant host that ever fought under any standard. I could not be induced to utter a single word in depreciation of Confederate valor or any field or in any department. Every courageous act done by any Confederate soldier is the common property of all who followed the Southern flag; but history has not dealt fairly or justly with the Confederates of this department The reasons for this are so obvious that they need not be mentioned in this intelligent presence. But I do affirm that the army that fought at Perryville and Richmond, Ky., that contended at Shiloh and battled at Murfreesboro, that unflinchingly met the terrific slaughter at Chickamauga, that bore without complaint and defiantly, the destruction and privations of the one hundred days before Atlanta; that captured Streight and Stoneman and won at Hartsville; that practically annihilated its foes at Tishomingo creek, or Brice's Cross Roads; that rode and fought with Forrest, Morgan and Wheeler, and at the end met substantial annihilation in the heroic, but useless, sacrifice on the bloody field of Franklin, is not unworthy to stand in any company of warriors who ever went forth to conflict, or fought for any cause in any land.
"The Army of Tennessee, never the best equipped of Confederate forces, met more defeats without destruction, endured more hardships without complaint, made longer marches with less straggling, followed more unfortunate leaders with fewer desertions, showed more cheerfulness in distress and exhibited greater fortitude in disaster than any military organization known in history. It was always hopeful in misfortune, brave in action, patient in privation, valiant in conflict, constant in trials, unmurmuring in difficulties and unconquerable in spirit, and no more brilliant display of extraordinary qualities was ever shown by this wonderful army than in the battle to whose slain you this day dedicate this shaft"
Again the Lebanon Orchestra discoursed sweet music, this time "OW Kentucky Home." As this followed the speaker from Kentucky, the scene was dramatic.
The exercises were closed with the reading of a poem by E. D. Hancock, entitled, "The Southern Soldier." The poem was one of some length, and in arranging it Mr. Hancock utilized the entire inscription upon the memorial monument.
The benediction was said by Rev. W. L. Logan.
WERE VERY APPROPRIATE.
The ceremonies were brief, that is, shorter than the usual exercises of this character, and the assemblage did not feel wearied at the conclusion as upon occasions when the orators speak for two or three hours. The address of Colonel Young was even shorter than he expected to make. In fact, he did not deliver the full address he had prepared for the occasion. The appropriate length of the programme, along with the smoothness with which it was presented, was frequently commented upon favorably.
After the exercises the visitors were invited to luncheon at the homes of Murfreesboro's hospitable people. Almost every citizen of the little city was a host during the day. Some of them had three and four visitors at their homes.
The afternoon was spent by many of those from distant cities in riding through the town and visiting the various points of interest upon the surrounding battle fields. Many of the old veterans tramped the fields over the entire afternoon in effort to locate a spot they might recognize. Several of those who had not been on the field in almost forty years were successful in locating old landmarks and in all they spent a most enjoyable day. The young ladies of the Lebanon Glee Club gave a concert at the armory during the afternoon, while the Tennessee Industrial School band held forth at the public square, rendering several selections.
To-night the Vendome Stock Company, of Nashville, played to a crowded house this being a part of the day's festivities.
Every road in the country led to Murfreesboro this morning. Hundreds came in from the surrounding country, but the largest crowd arrived on the Nashville special. Upon this train came the Confederate cavalry troop under command of Lieutenant W. T. Hardison and the infantry company commanded by Captain Mark S. Cockrill, and the Gaines Rifles, Captain Kramer. On this train were many State officials and citizens of Nashville.
Wm. Moffitt, Jr.