Confederate Monument Entrusted to Public Servants
The following is a news account of the unveiling of the Confederate Monument in Lumberton, North Carolina in 1907, a scene replicated across the South in similar ceremonies which honored the service and sacrifice of Southern men who left their homes and families to defend their State and country. It is important to note that these monuments were left to the custody of public authorities who were expected to provide perpetual care and faithfully honor the men who gave their lives for political freedom and liberty.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com
Robeson County Confederate Monument Unveiling, Friday, 10 May, 1907
(Transcribed from The Robesonian of 13 May, 1907.)
“The most notable day in the history of Robeson county was the unveiling of the Confederate monument on Friday, the Tenth of May. This occasion had long been looked forward to, and by daybreak people were gathering from every direction. Carriages, buggies, wagons, carts, automobiles, wheels and every kind of vehicle was put in use on that day to bring the people interested.
By ten ‘clock it was with difficulty that one could make his way along the streets. Never before has such an immense crowd been assembled in Robeson county. No drinking, no misbehavior of any kind was witnessed that day. A matter of much comment was the splendid appearance of those present. Robeson well has a right to feel proud of her citizenship.
The streets and public buildings of the town were elaborately and beautifully decorated in national colors, and suspended across Main Street, banners were hung with the word “Welcome” on them in letters to catch the eye of every passerby. On the corner of Fifth and Main Streets, a booth was beautifully decorated, and here the badges of the day were bestowed upon the Veterans.
Governor [Robert B.] Glenn was met at the train at 10 o’clock, and driven in a carriage to the handsome home of Col. N. A. McLean. The Red Springs Daughters of the Confederacy were met at the station and taken to the home of Mr. & Mrs. McIntyre, where a splendid reception was tendered them.
The parade started at 11 o’clock at the Waverly hotel, in charge of Capt. A. J. McKinnon, chief marshal. First came the marshals, numbering about 75, on prancing horses with sashes of national colors flying in the breeze, making as fine an appearance of any body of horsemen could desire; following in succession came the Lumberton and Maxton brass bands, making every pulse [quicken] as they steadily marched and played stirring martial music; [then] the Maxton Guards, Lumber Bridge Infantry, Camps Ryan Hoke and Rowland [of the] United Confederate Veterans, numbering about five hundred, led by Capt. [James] I. Metts of Wilmington . . . the old Confederate flag of the Fifty-first [North Carolina] Regiment was borne by Gen. S. J. Cobb, marching to the time of the music and wearing with pride their badges of honor.
The sight of these veterans, the men who faced death long ago for their country and future generations [inspired] the hearts of all, and too, it was a scene of pathos. Some who received lifelong injuries, and others who faced the guns and death so fearlessly in the 60’s are bowed with age, but from the eyes of these worn veterans, flashed the fires of old time courage and vigor. As they marched along cheer after cheer arose from the vast throng and the enthusiasm was great.
Last in the parade came the floats of Maxton, Red Springs, Fairmont, Lumberton, and several others, all beautifully and tastefully decorated in national colors. The individuality of the different floats was striking; not one in arrangement bore any resemblance to another, yet all were beautifully planned and decorated.
In the Maxton float was Miss Bonnie Dixie McBryde, and sponsors. After marching around the town, the parade proceeded to the court house square, where they halted and Governor Glenn, Miss McBryde and others who were to take part in the program, were assembled on the improvised rostrum beside the monument, in the midst of the gaze of thousands of curious, interested eyes.
The seats arranged on the grounds of the court house square, were soon filled with veterans, and th4 masses were gathered as closely around the platform as possible, in order that they might hear each word that fe4ll from the lips of their beloved and honored governor.
Mr. Stephen McIntyre was master of ceremonies, fittingly welcomed the visitors and expressed [the] regret of the committee that the monument was not complete; the statue having failed to arrive in time for erection.
He spoke of the energy and determination and devotion of those who had caused the monument to be erected, [and] in glowing terms of commendation, making mention of our worthy county Treasurer, M.G. McKenzie, who for the past ten years had labored toward the end which is at last attained.
The choir sang in ringing voices, the old but ever new song, the “Old North State,” after which Miss Bonnie McBryde, the accomplished and attractive young daughter of Capt. Thomas A. McBryde, pulled the cord that caused the white veil to fall, revealing the monument, standing there in solemn grandeur, to the eager gaze of thousands. A wild, joyous cheer rose from the throats of all, mingling with a dozen factory whistles and the military salute, three volley being fired.
Miss Katie Lee McKinnon then beautifully recited “The Conquered Banner.” Miss McKinnon is a reciter of exceptional ability, and her very successful effort was warmly appreciated and brought tears to the eyes of many, as she spoke in thrilling tones.
Governor Glenn was presented by Mr. S. McIntyre, who said that no introduction of Governor R.B. Glenn was needed, for his name throughout the State was synonymous with progress and advancement, intellectual and moral. He welcomed him to the county of Robeson in most admirable and suitable words.
Governor Glenn arose and addressed the people . . . his kind benevolent countenance won the hearts of the spectators from the beginning [and a] hush fell on that vast throng and all listened with bated breath to one of the most masterly efforts ever produced in Robeson. He assured his hearers in the beginning that the purpose of the gathering was not only to unveil the monument erected to those who had met death in a noble cause, but to give a hearty handshake to those who still linger, and to instill noble aspirations and loyalty in the hearts of the coming generations. He paid a most splendid and touching tribute to the veterans who sat facing him, that the world has never seen braver or more worthy soldiers than those who followed Lee and Jackson from 1861 to 1865; that none were more deserving than those who went from North Carolina, the Tar Heel State, the grandest commonwealth south of the Mason and Dixon line.
In glowing terms that inspired his hearers, he spoke of the glorious deeds done in the 60s by the gallant sons of the Old North State. His recitals of the deeds done by the North Carolina sons at Malvern Hill, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg [and] Appomattox was thrilling and carried the thoughts of listening veterans back, – back, to the cruel hardships of war. North Carolina, he said, entered the great struggle unwillingly, but once started, there was no turning back. Always in the midst of the battle, with a never-faltering courage, they deserved the highest tribute which could be paid them.
While Governor Glenn said the men of the South were brave and noble, he said the women were even more so. Without the courage and never failing sympathy of the good women of the South, they could never have held out [against the enemy] as they did.
In his closing remarks he besought the veterans to live lives of honor and such as would entitle them to enter and belong to the Great Army and serve under the banner of the Great Captain. He urged the young people that they live such lives as will make them worthy of the responsibilities of the future, [and] that they might worthily take the places of the older ones when they should pass away and be able to finish the task committed to their care with honor.
When Governor Glenn took his seat, there arose cheer after cheer [and] the people were most enthusiastic in their enjoyment and appreciation of his powerful address.
Crosses of Honor were presented to 15 Veterans when the address closed. After which, the monument was formally turned over to the custody and care of the commissioners of Robeson county, and Rev. C.H. Durham dismissed the audience.
An elaborate dinner was spread on tables in the court house yard where the veterans and military were served dinner. At 4:50PM the Daughters of the Confederacy visited the graves of Confederate soldiers which they covered with many beautiful flowers. The occasion was one which will live long in the memories of all who attended. It was the biggest day Lumberton has ever known. The crowd was estimated at seven thousand people.”