In 1895, the Confederate monument in Covington was unveiled – here’s the story of how it came to be

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Editor’s note: While searching through The Leader’s archives recently we found the original story published when the county’s Confederate monument was unveiled on the square. Dated May 29, 1895, the paper included an illustration of the monument and more than 2,600 words about the event. The story appears below, unedited and in its entirety, with the purpose of providing more information about how the monument came to be. Since it was unveiled 125 years ago, many Tipton Countians have served the country in wartime and their sacrifices are honored at the Joseph B. Adkison Park in Atoka and the Tipton County Veterans Museum and Patriot Park in Covington.

The Unveiling

Of the Confederate Monument in Covington – One of the Largest Crowds Ever Assembled in Town

Playing bands, waving flags, marching soldiers and patriotic speeches – gala day for the old veterans

After many years of zealous work and activity on the part of the good women and patriotic men of our county and many liberal donations to the part of generous persons outside who love the memories of the lost cause, the Confederate monument erected by the admirers of courage and devotion to duty as displayed by the soldiers of Tipton County who were killed during the war, who have died since that time and who are still living, at last stands complete on the public square in Covington. It is situated south of the courthouse and faces Main Street. The monument is made of Westerly granite and its weight is nearly 50,000 pounds. It is surmounted (as will be seen by looking at the excellent illustration of it on our first page) by a heroic representation of a Confederate soldier, made of bronze. The figure is handsome, graceful and soldierly looking, is attired in uniform, stands in the attitude of watchfulness and expectation with drawn sword in right hand and left hand resting on his belt. On the north side of the monument are the names “Tishomongo” and “Harrisburg,” on the east “Chickamauga” and “Perryville” and on the west “Kennesaw” and “Franklin.” The main inscription, which is on the south, reads as follows:

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1894

To the Confederate Soldiers of Tipton County, whose courage in war and virtues in peace, have illustrated the highest type of American manhood.

“Nor braver bled for a brighter land,

Nor brighter land had a cause so grand.”

The brick foundation is raised about two feet above the elevation of the ground. A mound of earth has been raised to the level of the brick foundation, and this will later be handsomely paved with concrete, forming a wall around it. A fence will also be built around it as soon as the work can be done. The monument’s first cost was $2,000, and the expense connected with the building of the fence, laying of the walks, incidentals, etc., will foot up at least $200 more.

The May 31, 1895 issue of The Covington Leader featured an illustration of the monument when it was unveiled. Source: The Library of Congress/Chronicling America

Tipton County furnished more than a thousand soldiers to the cause of the Confederacy. No better evidence of their bravery and active service could be cited than the fact that about fifty per cent of them fell on the field of battle and yielded up their lives for the cause they held dearer than any other, and died from disease in camps and in Northern prisons. Not more than a fourth of Tipton County’s soldier boys are living today. It has often been said , and as many times substantiated by records and the many scars they bear, that our county furnished as good soldiers as those who composed the flower of Lee’s or any other army, and that she also furnished more of them than any other county in the South in proportion to population.

The meeting of the old soldiers here on the day of the unveiling made pathetic scenes in many instances. Some had seen each other the last time when they laid down their arms to enter peaceful pursuits and some had not met before since they marched side by side and fought over the dead bodies of their comrades on bloody fields of conflict. The love one Confederate soldier bears for another is something wonderful, and though their heads are gray and their beards grizzled, they often almost break down when they meet an old comrade. We have lately chronicled striking instances of their love and devotion to each other, involving the expenditure of their means, brotherly kindness and generous aid in times of sickness and pecuniary trouble.

It was that noble old man, Col. Richard H. Munford, who peacefully passed away in March 1884, after a long life of usefulness and good works, who gave Covington her beautiful cemetery, and who furnished his own flesh and blood to fight for the lost cause, who first conceived the idea, back in the early seventies, of building a monument to the memory of Tipton County’s soldiers, and started the fund for its erection by a most generous donation, which formed the nucleus for the sum now on hand. When this good old man passed away, he left the matter in good hands, prominent among which was his daughter, Mrs. Sarah M. Holmes, now of Memphis, and this noble Southern woman, in conjunction with many other wives of old soldiers and patriotic men, has never ceased working for the carrying out of this cherished object.

Soon after the donation of Col. Munford the Tipton County Confederate Monument Association was organized, which is at present composed of Col. Wm. Sanford president, Joseph Forsyth vice-president, Col. J. U. Green secretary, J. A. Crofford treasurer, with an executive committee composed of Capt. C. B. Simonton chairman, Col. J. U. Green secretary, Col. Wm. Sanford, Capt. D. A. Merrill, Joseph Forsyth and N. W. Baptist. This association has been collecting funds through these years made at the annual reunions given, by accepting donations from outside parties and by other means. The young ladies of the county and the young men, the latter of whom have given several benefit concerts for the cause, are deserving also of due praise in this connection.

The monument was selected by the executive committee of the association and this committee has succeeded so admirably in its work that all are pleased with their good taste and efficient work. The design agreed upon by the committee was well carried out in its building by the Peter & Burghard Stone Co. of Louisville, Ky. through their local agent at this place, Mr. J. West Green, who has worked conscientiously in fulfilling the contract to the letter. Mr. Robertson, the representative of the stone company, spent the most of last week with many assistants in getting the monument in position and finished his work Saturday evening, after which he put on the veil which covered the handsome statue until Wednesday.

The unveiling ceremonies

The visitors coming on trains were met at the depot by the reception committee, and were taken in charge, as were also those who came in private conveyances. Each soldier was given a badge of white ribbon on which was inscribed “Veteran, May 29, 1895.” The soldiers formed in front of Dr. Hall’s under command of Chief Marshal J. F. Dickson, assisted by Col. W. F. Taylor, of Memphis, and Esq. S. H. Mitchell, of Mason. The line of march was led by the Brighton band, followed by Company A. Confederate Veterans of Memphis, the Confederate soldiers from the various companies forming in line behind them. The line of march was taken for the stand, and when the procession reached the square the soldiers filed off to the right, passing around the square and entered the large stand erected for the occasion on the east side.

On the stand seated the officers of the veteran company, the executive committee of the Monument Association, the speakers of the occasion, the forty-four young ladies representing the States, the choir, Mrs. Isabella Boyd, who represented “Mother of the Confederacy,” and Mrs. W. A. Black, representing “Columbia.” Mrs. Sarah Calhoun, who also had several sons in the war, was invited to take a seat with them. To the right of these noble ladies was seated Rev. W. H. Adams, who offered the opening prayer. A number of distinguished visitors and old Confederate soldiers were also given seats on the stand. Immediately on calling the assemblage to order, Col. Sanford, master of ceremonies, called on the choir, which sang, “America.” He then invited Rev. Mr. Adams to invoke the divine blessing. Mrs. Isabella Boyd was then presented to the audience, after which she assisted the thirteen young ladies in singing “My Maryland.”

Mrs. Henry Sherrod recited “The Conquered Banner.” Miss Sarah Hill then pulled the cord that unveiled the monument, with appropriate remarks. The band next struck up “Dixie” and the monument stood in full view and was greeted with shouts from thousands of voices. Mr. West Green then arose on behalf of the contractors and tendered the monument to the Association in brief, but appropriate, remarks, which President Sanford accepted. The choir sang “Bonnie Blue Flag,” the audience joining in the chorus. Miss Vivian Poindexter read an original poem written for the occasion (called Heroes in Gray).

Col. Sanford next called on the speakers present for addresses in the order of their names: G. W. Smitheal, Capt. Alex Merrill, Joseph Forsyth, Dr. T.W. Roane, Capt. Jas. L. Hall, Cap. D. J. Wood, Peyton J. Smith, N. W. Baptist and Dr. J.R. Sanford. Only three of the above responded to the call, viz: Messrs. Smitheal, Merrill and Baptist. Mr. Smith rose from his chair on the stand and made his apology for not speaking, in a few well chosen words. After this Mrs. Boyd, as “Confederacy,” Mrs. Black as “Columbia,” and forty-five young ladies representing the States of the Union sang “Star Spangled Banner.” Capt. C.B. Simonton was then called on and made a short address. The speakers confined themselves to historical facts and incidents of the war and were interesting and vivid in their portrayal, eliciting the loudest applause from the vast audience. The band, at the close of the speeches, played “Yankee Doodle,” after which the choir sang “Columbia the Gem of the Ocean.”

This closed the exercises of the morning. Col. Sanford then announced dinner and said that every Confederate soldier would be provided for by the citizens of the town and county. Dinner was spread in the courthouse yard and in many of the beautiful yards near the square. So far as we have been able to ascertain, the dinner furnished was ample for everybody and was composed of the best things that could be collected by our good housewives.

In the afternoon at 1:30 o’clock Col. Sanford again called the assembly to order. Gen. J.J. Dupuy, of Memphis, made a short address and Capt. Simonton read a letter from Col. T. B. Edgington, which is published elsewhere. Capts. J.P. Young and W. W. Carnes, Cols. W.L. Duckworth and W.F. Taylor also responded to calls and made good short speeches. Mr. Green Williams, of Company A, sang “Ise Gwine Back to Dixie” and “Sewanee River” in the chorus of which he was joined by the company. Nothing that transpired during the day seemed to stir up more enthusiasm.

The veteran company then formed and gave a short exhibition drill, firing three salutes. This ended the day’s exercises. Altogether, the affair was one of the grandest ever given in Covington and will be remembered by old and young as long as they live.

Notes of the unveiling

The ladies were all looking their very best.

There were about 225 Confederate veterans in line.

It was one of the biggest days in Covington’s history.

Mr. Witt McCraw, an old vet from Braden, was also on hand.

The monument was saluted with a discharge of three rounds.

Mr. Charles Jackson, of Capleville, Shelby County, was here. He, too, was an old soldier.

Messrs. F.N. Haynes, W.D. Taylor and G.M. Briggs were among the visitors from Memphis.

Esq. J.E. Pennel, Messrs. W.H. Neal and Joe E. Pennel, of Reverie, were among the visitors.

It was the universal opinion of all that it was the best looking and the best humored crowed ever seen.

The crowd here at the unveiling of the monument is estimated all the way from 3,500 to 5,000 people.

Col. Sanford as master of ceremonies presided in a manner that contributed much to the pleasure of the day.

Mr. R.N. Harrell and wife, of Bolton College, were among the interested visitors at the unveiling Wednesday.

The muskets rattled and the old vets drilled in the afternoon. The vets are true soldiers and march with a light step.

Mr. A.A. Waddell, of Phelan, who served in Company B., Forth-first Alabama – Lee’s old army – was in line, too.

Dr. A. Dunavant, of Curve, another one of the old Seventh Tennessee boys, was early upon the scene Tuesday morning.

Messrs. Russell and R.L. Jones, of Brunswick, who belong to the Arlington veteran drill team, were on hand attired in uniform.

Messrs. A.B. Jones, W.T. Craig and J.P. Thurmond, of Dawson Bivouac No. 552, Dyersburg, were circulating among their old comrades.

Mr. and Mrs. S.B. Hurt, of the Drummonds neighborhood, came up to attend the unveiling and were the guests of the family of Mr. J.N. Harris.

Drs. J.J. Elcan and E.I. Frazier, Messrs. R.E. Rogers, L.J. O’Kelly and C.C. Poindexter, old vets from the Mason neighborhood, were seen in the line.

Mr. B.C. Simmons, of Halls, who belonged to Company D. Ninth Tennessee, was among the visitors. Mr. L.B. Archer, of the same places, was also on hand.

Among the visitors from Braden were Mr. and Mrs. James McCraw, T.M. Pope, Rev. W.M. Midyett, Misses Sallie Harris and Florence McCraw and Mr. John Braden.

Among the veterans from Ripley present were Capt. W.H. Jackson, B.A. Haguewood, W.C. Nixon, Capt. W.W. Wheeler, Maj. C.C. Partee, Archie Young and Mr. Hart.

The old vets who had not been drilled walked with martial tread. There were a great many of them in line from this and adjoining counties. We regret that it was impossible to get more of their names.

Mr. G.J. Rhodes, a member of the famous Seventh Tennessee, who now lives at Alamo, was here shaking hands with old comrades. He was accompanied by his nephew, Mr. R.P. Collier, of Brownsville.

[Original copy was destroyed and two notes are lost.]

Among the prominent ex-Confederate veterans on hand from [unintelligible] were Gen. John J. Dupuy, Capts. J. P. Young and J. Harvey Mathes, Messrs. E.B. McHenry, Philip A. Fisher, W.T. Chapman, Wm. King, Col. W.F. Taylor and Chief W.C. Davis.

These visitors were seen on the grounds: Rev. Harden J. Turner, Misses Eula and Monnie Smith, and Kathleen Jeter, Mrs. D.R. Cleaves, Messrs. F.G. Pettus, S.H. Mitchell, J.T. Karney, Nat Mitchell, Mason; Mr. and Mrs. Turner Fletcher, Gilt Edge; L.D. Mitchell, Obion.

The following veterans belonging  to the drill team of Company A. in Memphis, were on hand and were in command of the gallant and courteous Capt. W.W. Carnes, who formed them in line and marched them with the old-time step: Gen. Kellan Anderson, Lieut. Edward Bourne, S. A. Pepper, J.M. Rainey, W.L. Seldon, W.D. Wilkerson, George DeShields, J.M. Wiliams, D.S. Levy, J.J. Brown, John Bam, J.E. Cleary, J.A. Crofford, W.S. Elam, Victor D. Fuchs, John Fazzi, J.B. Fisher, R.D. Grove, M.T. Garvin, Capt. Bruce Hill, P.J. Kelly, W.R. Kendall, W.L. McLean, J.F. McKinney, J.R. Mitchell, S.A. Munson, C. Nutzell, J.M. Pitts, J.M. Thompson, T.C. Taylor, A.F. Tucker, Fred Wolf, J.N. Rainey, W.R. Sims, L.G. Williams, L. Watson, Sam Winfree, J.R. Wright and George Lewis.

The forty-five young ladies representing the States of the Union presented a beautiful picture. We give their names below, as the list was considerably changed from last week: Mollie Morgan, Vermont; Rosetta Max, Florida; Gussie Richardson, Alabama; Rose Harris, Tennessee; Rose Goodman, Texas; Maud Smith, Arkansas; Birdie Boyd, Virginia; Edna Hall, South Carolina; Bessie Davie, North Carolina; Edna Banks, Mississippi; Izelle Payne, Utah; Cammie Sale, Maryland; Sarah Witherington, Georgia; Nannie Mai Simonton, Louisiana; Sallie Strange, Colorado; Eva McQuiston, New Jersey; Anna Roane, Indiana; Belle Stephenson, New Mexico; Mary Ellen Whitten, Wyoming; Laura Sanford, Delaware; Emma Reid, South Dakota; Julia Pullen, Illinois; Lena Nicholson, Washington; Anna Eckford, Minnesota; Naomi McMullen, New York; Eunice Forsyth, Ohio; Edna Elam, Pennsylvania; Adelle Menefee, New Hampshire; Dora Feezor, Maine; Ida Stitt, Michigan; Anna Lanier, Missouri; Cora Owen, Nebraska; Minnie Dickson, Oregon; Bettie Cash, Connecticut; Corrinne Winford, Nevada; Lizzie Crenshaw, California; Florence Walk, Kansas; Laura Poindexter, Arizona; Ruth Eddins, Kentucky; Kizelle Clark, Wisconsin; Belle Baptist, North Dakota.

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