Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A History of Confederate Memorial Day

Column providing the History of Confederate Memorial Day from the April edition of the Prattville Dragoons Camp Dispatch.

History of Confederate Memorial Day - (Alabama Confederate April 2007, pp. 1-2)
            In the spring of 1866 the Ladies Memorial Association of Columbus, Georgia passed a resolution to set aside one day annually to memorialize the Confederate dead. Additionally, the secretary of the association, Mrs. Charles J. (Mary Ann) Williams was directed to author a letter inviting the ladies in every Southern state to join them in the observance. The letter was written in March of 1866 and sent to all of the principal cities in the South, including Atlanta, Macon, Montgomery, Memphis, Richmond, St. Louis, Alexandria, Columbia, New Orleans, et al.
            The date for the holiday was selected by Mrs. Elizabeth Rutherford Ellis. She chose April 26, the first anniversary of Confederate General Johnston's final surrender to General Sherman at Bennett Place, North Carolina. For many in the South, that marked the official end of the War Between The States.
            On April 26, 1866, tens of thousands of Southern women commemorated the first Confederate Memorial Day. Some, however, in the northernmost portions of the South did not participate because their flowers were not yet in bloom. Consequently, they selected dates later in the spring to hold their first Confederate Memorial Days.
            To the present, Southern states continue to have Confederate Memorial days. Though most are still on April 26, others continue to be later in the year.
            In 1868, General John A. Logan, who was the commander in chief of the Union Civil War Veterans Fraternity called the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), launched the Memorial Day holiday that is currently observed in the entire United States. According to General Logan's wife, he emulated the practices of Confederate Memorial Day. She wrote that Logan "said it was not too late for the Union men of the nation to follow the example of the people of the South in perpetuating the memory of their friends who had died for the cause they thought just and right."
Confederate Memorial Day is observed in ten Southern states:
§  26 April in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi
§  10 May in North and South Carolina
§  30 May in Virginia
§  3 June, Jeff Davis Birthday, in Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee

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