CONFEDERATE SOLDIER

Submitted by William "Pat" Watson

 

Submitted by William "Pat" Watson

 

UNITED DAUGHTERS OF THE CONFEDERACY WILL UNVEIL STATUE ON  JANUARY 19
                                                                  
                                                       
                                                           
To Be Placed In Jacqueline Park
Monument is Italian Marble
Carved in Italy
Base Made in Shreveport
 

In honor of the Confederate soldiers of the Civil War, the local chapter of the United Daughters of theConfederacy are planning to erect a memorial monument in the Jacqueline Park on South Broadway according to Mrs. S.F. Martin, President of the Minden organization.

Mrs. Martin states that the base of the monument will probably be laid Wednesday morning.  The spot for the statue, which will be of a private Confederate soldier, and the permit have been granted by the City Council.

At first, when the movement was started by the United Daughters of Confederacy organization, it was expected to be erected in the hitching rack, next to the Courthouse, and add this block to the park, but the movement fell through.

The monument will be a statue of a Confederate soldier, Mrs. Martin stated, it will be made of Italian marble and was carved in Italy.  The granite base was made in Shreveport.  The statue will be very large and will add much beauty to the local park.



From the Minden Signal-Tribune - Tuesday, January 10, 1933


Dedication of UDC Monument January 19

Unveiling of the Confederate Statue to be made by a Civil War Veteran

Special Program to be arranged on occasion

All business centers will be requested to close during ceremonies

Dedication and unveiling of the monument to be erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in honor of the Confederate soldiers, of which only two in the parish are now surviving, will take place on January 19 with the appropriate ceremonies, according to Mrs. S.F. Martin, President of the local chapter.

The unveiling is to be made by a Confederate soldier.  A special program is being planned and all business centers will be requested to close during the ceremony which will consist of an address; a special old-time selection by the band and the male quartet; presentation of the monument by the United Daughters of the Confederacy President, Mrs. Martin; acceptance by Mayor Connell Fort; sounding of taps; and then the unveiling of the monument.

There is much interest centering around the ceremony and the unveiling of the statue, so typical of a Confederate soldier.  Standing 8-feet tall upon a two-base foundation, it is typical of youth, that is faced with the problems the Confederate soldier faced.  The soldier is resting upon his gun, a look of determination upon his countenance as the battle is fought and he is looking into the future.  The foundation is of Georgia marble and the figure of one-piece carved from fine Italian Carrara marble.

The beautiful site for the erection of the monument is in the lower end of Jacqueline Park, forming an impressive view as the approach into the city is made from the L & A station and the highway that leads into Minden from that direction, was donated by the city by order of Mayor Connell Fort.

Invitations will be extended to out of town chapters to be present and a large crowd is expected to view the impressive ceremony which occurs on the date of Robert E. Leešs birthday anniversary.

John Agan, well known Webster Parish historian wrote there are at least threemisconceptions about the statue of the Confederate soldier that stands in Confederate Park. The first originated in a newspaper account that contained incorrect information. That article stated that the statue was modeled after a "Mr. Wiley Pevy," the first Webster Parish soldier to die in World War I. In fact, there was no "Wiley Pevy." The local American post is named the Wiley-Pevy Post after William Wiley and Andrew Jackson Pevy, two Webster Parish men who were among the first casualties of World War I. Their pictures hang in the Legion hall here in Minden. Another misconception is that the statue was dedicated to their memory. The statue was commissioned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy of Minden and was dedicated on Lee-Jackson Day in January 1933. It was to honor the Confederate soldiers and was unveiled by Alberta Glass, Minden's last surviving Confederate veteran.

The second misconception is that the statue was modeled after any local resident, it was not but was merely an image of a typical Confederate soldier. The third misconception was that the statue was actually the property of the City of Minden; newspaper accounts of the time indicate that at the least the ground on which the statue stands was given to the UDC. Members of the local Sons of Confederate Veterans and the local UDC are researching the exact amount of land dedicated with the statue. Unknowingly he also helped provide a little misinformation about the statue in his article on 1933 which he is correcting here. John's first newspaper stories indicated that the nearly new statue was unharmed by the May 1 tornado. Later he learned the statue was blown from its base and the bayonet attached to the rifle was broken off in the fall. He has recently received a picture of the toppled statue and as for the broken bayonet; it has never been replaced and remains missing today

John Agan writes a weekly column for the Minden Press-Column called Echo of the Past.
If you have not read it. You have missed something.

Submitted by Ann Mays Harlan

 

The Battle Flag of the Claiborne Greys

By John Agan

Some of the most frustrating aspects of working in local history and historic preservation are those missing records and artifacts that hinder a better knowledge of our heritage. For example, I received an inquiry today about when the first newspaper was published in Minden. The correct answer is 1848, when the Minden Iris began publication; however, with two or three exceptions, all local newspapers published before 1878 have been lost forever. There are other large gaps in our local newspaper collection between 1883 and 1898 and scattered smaller gaps in later years. Many mysteries of local history have been lost with those pages. In the heart of the first era of missing papers were the years of the Civil War, their absence, along with the nearly complete absence of local official records from that era make researching the war years perhaps the most difficult local task. Today's column will deal with another missing Echo of Our Past, related to the Civil War. That particular item, while not adding much to knowledge of the war, was an interesting symbol and relic of the conflict. Today we will examine the story of the Battle Flag of Company D, 19th Louisiana Regiment of the Confederate Army, the Claiborne Greys. The purpose of this article is not to stir up the recent debates about the meaning and correctness of using the Confederate Battle Flag or any of the Confederate National Flags; it is merely to point out how one historical artifact, which should properly have been preserved in a museum locally, was lost to us, not once, but twice. I hope that lesson may be applied to future pieces of history we have the chance to preserve.

In the years after the Civil War, many of its veterans tried to put the war in their past. Despite some modern conceptions of how Southerners felt, most reconciled themselves to moving forward to rebuild their region. It was much later, shortly after the turn of the twentieth century, when the real interest in preserving the memories of the war began. Organizations such as the United Confederate Veterans, the Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans began to flourish. The Confederate Veteran Magazine was established and gained thousands of subscribers. A coming together of sorts between the North and the South began as veterans of both sides met in reunions at Gettysburg and Vicksburg on the 50th anniversaries of those battles in July 1913. In line with those developments, this letter from Congressman John T. Watkins to Editor J. P. Kent appeared in the Minden Signal-Democrat of February 5, 1915:

"Mr. J. N. Marsh, an employee of the United States House of Representatives, informs me that he has an historic battle flag of the Confederacy which was made by Miss Laconia Geren, who then lived at Athens, Louisiana, which she presented to Mr. Jeff J. Sprawls on December 15, 1861. It was captured by Lieutenant John Gordon at Missionary Ridge.

"Since Judge Sprawls was a brother-in-law of yours, you may take some interest in this historical incident. While the Gerens lived in Webster Parish at that time, Judge R. C. Drew, who is related to the Gerens, lived in Claiborne Parish at Homer and he may know who Miss Laconia Geren is.

"I do not know whether this flag can be procured or not; but thought perhaps you might take some interest on account of the relationship."
Editor Kent added the following comments to add to the story:

"The late Rev. Andrew J. Walker, who lived for many years in Ward Five of this parish (near Dubberly), was the captain of the company to which Judge Sprawls belonged, and one of its members, Mr. D. M. Sanders, is still living on his farm near Minden. There may be other survivors in this section as the company was made up mostly of citizens living in and around Minden and Athens. It is very probable that there are only a few survivors of this company still living, but they have numerous relatives still living in this section. The daughters of the captain of the company, Mrs. J. N. Shealy and Mrs. W. M. McBride are at present living in Minden. It may be possible for some of these relatives of the soldiers who made up this company to secure this historic flag. Or better still it might be well for the local chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy to take some action to this end. It would no doubt prove a very valuable relic of this period."

Apparently, Kent's suggestion was taken to heart by local residents. Although no mention of the captured flag appears again for a while, other articles show that local interest had been piqued to some degree by Watkins' discovery. In the Signal-Democrat of March 19, 1915, there appeared the following story:

"The local chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy would like to receive any information obtainable about the flag that was presented to the Minden Blues on the eve of their departure for service at the outbreak of the Civil War. This flag was presented to Robert Scott by Miss Sallie Quarles. If anyone knows anything of the flag or its history, such information would be gratefully received by Mrs. Ida V. Goodwill (great-grandmother of Governor Mike Foster), president of the local chapter."

It would seem no one had any knowledge of the fate of the banner of the best-known local unit, the Blues, as no response to the inquiry was ever reported in the newspaper. However, the pursuit of the flag of the Claiborne Greys was more successful. In the Signal-Tribune of July 16, 1915 appeared a reprint of an article from the Columbus Herald of Columbus, Indiana, telling the following story of the flag:

"It is only a pretty little silken flag, yet is stands for something wholly worthwhile, for loyalty, bravery, chivalry and for a cause that was lost, but not for lack of honesty, sincerity or loyalty on the part of those who espoused it. The little flag is a Confederate one, yet for over half a century is has been preserved carefully and even tenderly by alien hands and in an alien land, but now the flag is to be restored to its own, to those who will ever love and cherish it for that which it represents, for the memories, mostly of sorrow, but much of pride and admiration which it recalls.

"The flag was captured at the Battle of Missionary Ridge by an uncle of the late Mrs. Mary Marsh, who was the Miss Mary Gooding, aged ten years. Mrs. Marsh preserved the little flag until her death about four years ago when it fell to her sister, Miss Rose Gooding. After the death of Mrs. Marsh her sister set about devising ways and means of returning the flag to the southland from whence it came and she with her nephew, J. N. Marsh, has succeeded and in a few days Mr. Marsh will take the flag to Minden, Louisiana, where he will present it to the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Preparations are said to be going forward for the reception of Mr. Marsh and the little flag, and it is expected that the event will be a joyous and ceremonial one. For its return to the land of its production means another link forged in the indestructible chain which binds the north and the south in one indissoluble union.

"Mr. Marsh and Mrs. Gooding have compiled and written the following interesting data of the little flag:

"During the Civil War at the Battle of Missionary Ridge, November 25, 1863, Lt. John Gooding captured a small flag, snatching it from the head band of a Confederate soldier's horse during a hand-to-hand saber charge. The flag was made of white silk with red field, blue bars and white (10) stars, representing the then existing Confederate states, four by six and one-half inches in size.

"On the back of the flag was inscribed in lead pencil:

'Jefferson J. Sprawls, Camp Moore, La., Dec. 5, from Miss Laconia Geren, Athens, Louisiana.'

"On the face of the flag was inscribed, also in lead pencil:

'Captured by Lt. John Gooding, Company A, 22nd Indiana Vol. Inf., charge on Missionary Ridge, rebel battle flag.'

"Lt. Gooding was the younger brother of Colonel Michael Gooding, commander of the 22nd regiment.

"After the little flag was captured Lt. Gooding sent it to his little niece, Mary M. Gooding, then but 10 years of age, eldest daughter of Colonel Gooding. Later she was married to J. N. Marsh, a newspaperman of North Vernon, Indiana and later of Columbus, Indiana. She preserved it until her death at the family home in Columbus, July 29, 1911. It then passed to her mother, Mrs. Josephine Gooding, widow of the late Colonel Michael Gooding. Mrs. Gooding died at her home in Columbus, January 2, 1915. The flag then passed to Miss Rose Gooding, daughter of Colonel and Mrs. Gooding, who in turn gave it to William E. Marsh, newspaperman of Oklahoma City, editor Western Newspaper Union, only living representative of J. N. Marsh and wife - Mary M. Gooding. Mr. Marsh and his aunt, Miss Rose Gooding, felt in accordance with the oft-expressed wish of Mrs. Marsh during her lifetime that the flag should be returned to its owners and decided, even at this late date, to locate them or their friends who would be interested in recovering it.

"J. N. Marsh, being an employee of the speakers' lobby, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C., by reason of his duties was closely acquainted with all the members of Congress. His first inquiry was of Judge John T. Watkins, congressman, Fourth District, Louisiana. Athens, Louisiana, as appeared in inscription on the flag being the only clue to identification of the locality where the flag came from.

"Judge Watkins wrote a letter concerning the matter to J. P. Kent, editor, which was published in the Minden Signal-Democrat, his home paper and thus the parties in interest were soon located and then followed correspondence by Mrs. Ida V. Goodwill, president, local chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy, and also M. M. Taylor, son-in-law of Mrs. A. T. Walker, nee Miss Laconia Geren, followed by arrangements to return the flag to its original owners and in turn to be presented to the local chapter of the U.D.C. for future preservation.

"The flag has been carefully preserved for more than 50 years by the Gooding-Marsh families and is now in the same condition as when it first came into their possession.
"Jefferson J. Sprawls was born near Aiken, South Carolina, and with thirteen other families of his immediate neighborhood emigrated to Louisiana when he was quite young, all settling in Claiborne Parish, now Webster Parish. As he grew to manhood he studied law and moved to Coushatta on Red River, later moved to Sparta, about 20 miles from Minden, and when the courthouse was moved to Bienville, he moved with it.

"In 1860, he joined a company of young men from the neighborhood for service in the Confederate army and at Camp Moore, New Orleans, his company became part of Company D, 19th Louisiana regiment. He took part in the battles of Shiloh, Missionary Ridge and many others and was honorably discharged at Meridian, Mississippi, May 3, 1865, after more than four years gallant service approved by Lt. Colonel J. S. Brown, major general commanding."Judge Sprawls was a very prominent man and an able lawyer and was frequently called to the bench to act as trial judge on special occasions and was always thereafter known as Judge Sprawls.

"The flag was made by the ladies of the neighborhood where the company was organized and sent by a delegation headed by James Geren, color bearer of the company, who took his little sister, Laconia Geren, aged 10 years, along and the flag was presented by her to Captain Sprawls in Camp Moore, La., on December 5, 1861.

"Captain Sprawls died at his home in April 1905, and his widow, Mrs. Cora Kent Sprawls, now resides with her brother, J. P. Kent, editor and owner of the Minden Signal-Democrat.

"James Geren was killed during the charge at the Battle of Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863, when the flag was captured.

"The company was recruited near Mt. Lebanon only a few miles from Minden.

"D. M. Sanders, another member of the company still lives near Minden and two other surviving members live near there."

By June 1, 1915, when the following article appeared in the Signal-Democrat, the banner had been returned to Minden. Editor Kent reported that the flag had arrived in Minden and was in the possession of Mrs. Goodwill and the U.D.C. He stated: "Mrs. Goodwill took this little trophy to the State reunion of the U.D.C. held recently in Shreveport. It is now on display in Donald Goodwill's store window where it will be for a short time, after which it will be deposited in the vault of the First National Bank."

Sadly, that is the last mention of this artifact in the local media. The First National Bank was closed in 1929 and absorbed by the Bank of Webster, which in turn failed in 1931 and later reopened as the People's Bank and Trust Company. There are no indications that the flag was still in the possession of the bank even at the time First National closed. Many of the records of the local U.D.C. from that era have been preserved in the archives at Noel Memorial Library at LSU-Shreveport, but there is no mention of the flag in those records. So it seems that once again the flag has been lost as a tangible relic of the most tumultuous time in American history.

I guess the moral of today's story is keep a close watch on any and all of the relics and memories of our past, as too often we have allowed them to be "gone with the wind" just like the vanished society they represent.

John Agan is a columnist for the Minden Press-herald.


* J.P. Kent sleeps in the Minden City Cemetery in section D. For many years the flickering neon lights from the light company would shine on the Kent monument at night. Because the marker was slick it gave the appearance that the stone was bleeding. People from all over Webster Parish would drive by the cemetery just to see it. After the sign was taken down the monument tombstone stopped bleeding.

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