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The evening of Tuesday, May 1st, 2012, was a warm Manhattan evening, and saw members of the Archibald Gracie Camp came together in the Berman Room of the storied Players Club in New York City’s Gramercy Park for the first business meeting since the election of new Camp Commander Victor Mann.
Over drinks, and under flanking flags of the late Confederate States, the Camp was delighted to welcome a number of new members, with a presentation of membership certificates.
Among the typical proceedings of new and unfinished business, Commander Mann laid out a full calendar year of planned events and commemorations. All this after an opening statement addressing any reticence on behalf of the membership to be convening in a club that once welcomed William T. Sherman as a member. “We are”, he reminded, “drinking his wine.”
At the end of July, I went to Greeneville, TN, to visit our property that had been hit by one of the dozens of tornadoes that swept the South on April 28th.
On my way back to New York, I stopped in Lexington, VA, to pay homage and say a prayer at the burial site of Lt. General “Stonewall” Jackson.
There are 144 Confederate veterans also buried in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery. It was a misty morning this morning in Lexington, adding an aura to the visit.
Oh, if you’d only lived a little while longer…
Lemons left in front of the tombstone by visitors familiar with the General’s well-known habit.
Mist covered web nearby, about 2 feet across
Crosses and flags mark the graves of the veterans of the CSA.
The quaint center of Lexington. The round sign: “Virginia, Born and Bred”
Many quaint colonial and antebellum buildings are well preserved in downtown Lexington, VA
The rear and garden of Gen. Jackson’s house when he lived in Lexington during the time he taught at the Virginia Military Institute. As I drove North on Route 81, passing up the Shenandoah valley, I was listening to the 2nd South Carolina String Band playing “Jackson in the Valley”.
Named brigadier general in 1861, Garnett briefly commanded Confederate troops in western Virginia before being shot dead in the battle of Corrick’s Ford on July 13, 1861.
According to research by the cemetery, one of his last cries on the battlefield was “Three cheers for Jeff Davis!”
But that Confederate pride did not follow Garnett to the grave.
Union forces turned over Garnett’s body to his family, who buried him in Baltimore. Four years later, the family decided he should lie in Brooklyn alongside his wife and son, who had died before the war. They exhumed Garnett’s remains and secretly re-interred him in Green-Wood, leaving his grave unmarked for fear of anti-Southern sentiments.
Nestled among the urban bustle of Midtown Manhattan stands a quaint French Church, operating since 1628. And it was there on Sunday that New York City’s Sons of Confederate Veterans organized a Memorial Service for the Confederate Dead one hundred and fifty years after the start of the War for Southern Independence.
In attendance were members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and several other members of the City’s Southern community. Their ties to the South varied, from those removed from that region only recently for work to those whose ancestors came to New York from Dixie during Reconstruction. But they all shared a strong emotional tie to the South, and an unabashed pride in their ancestors who served the Confederate States of America.
Filling the pews of the sanctuary, attendees joined soloist Steven Fredericks in singing God of our Fathers as a processional marched from the back of the sanctuary carrying the First National Flag of the Confederacy, The United States Flag, and the Confederate Battle Flag.
This was followed by welcomes and greetings from United Daughters of the Confederacy Chapter President Elaine Mitchell, and incoming Archibald Gracie Camp Commander Victor Mann.
Throughout the service, ladies of the United Daughters of the Confederacy came to the pulpit to read Psalms, and the soloist, accompanied by piano, performed several stirring pieces, including a favorite of the soldiers, Tenting on the Old Camp Ground, as well as The Conquered Banner, and a beautiful rendition of Cover Them Over with Beautiful Flowers.
The centerpiece of the service was a sermon offered by the Camp’s Adjutant, and a former Commander, Dr. Michael S. Kogan. He summarized the causes, motives, and events of the War before concluding with a tribute to the heroism, devotion, and legacy of the Confederate Soldier, imploring those in attendance to fight for their forebear’s memory as their forebears fought for them.
Another former Commander of the Camp, John Mauk Hilliard, then took the pulpit and recited Gen. Robert E. Lee’s General Order Number 9, announcing to his beloved troops the Surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia.
The soloist sang a rueful version of Dixie as the flags were taken from the front and carried out of the sanctuary, and then was joined by all in attendance in repeating the first verse and chorus, in boisterous quick-step.
Following the service, the Archibald Gracie Camp held a very brief meeting. Camp Commander Michael Charles gave an overview of the state of the Camp, including the latest financial and membership numbers, and then introduced a vote on Camp Officers. All those nominated were unopposed and agreed upon unanimously. While many of the previous year’s Officers remained in their positions, hearty congratulations are due to Victor Mann for his election to Camp Commander, and Lynn Beedle, who was elected Historian.
At this point, Commander Victor Mann took over proceedings, laying out plans for upcoming events. New camp members were then introduced and welcomed and the meeting was quickly adjourned. It was widely agreed that Mann’s intelligence and enthusiasm promises to make for an exciting and active year for New York City’s Sons of Confederate Veterans.
The Camp Members then joined the other guests in some of the Church’s private rooms for a reception, where several happy hours of conversation and fellowship passed with sandwiches and ice tea.
On Sunday, May 15th, at 4pm, the Archibald Gracie Camp #985 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will be holding a Memorial Service to commemorate the gallant Southern men who sacrificed their lives in defense of their homeland, taking place at The French Church Du St. Espirit at 109 E. 60th Street, New York, NY.
Following the service, there will be a buffet in the Church’s courtyard.
It promises to be a powerful program of music, speeches, and remembrance and is open to the public. There is a suggested donation at the door of $25.
There will be a commemorative program published, and those wishing to have a Confederate ancestor honored in the program may do so for a contribution to the Archibald Gracie Camp of $18.61 per name. If you are interested in having your Confederate Ancestor honored, please contact Patrick McCullough at PGMcCullough@nycscv.org with the name of your ancestor. RSVP to the same, or via the Event’s Facebook Page.