On May 10, 1913, widows, wives and other women of Bishopville dedicated a monument to the Confederate veterans of the Civil War. On Saturday, 100 years and a day later, members of the Lottie Green Chapter United Daughters of the Confederacy re-dedicated the monument, which is located on the front lawn of the Lee County Courthouse.
"We're very honored to be able to do this," said Retta Tindal, immediate past national historian for the UDC and past state president. "We work very hard to preserve history, including our Confederate history."
Chapter member Joyce Bigbie opened the ceremony with a prayer. Attendees then listened to Margery Jeffords read a rendition of "The Conquered Banner," a poem by Abram Joseph Ryan:
Furl that Banner, for 'tis weary; Round its staff 'tis drooping dreary; Furl it, fold it, it is best; For there's not a man to wave it, And there's not a sword to save it, And there's no one left to lave it In the blood that heroes gave it; And its foes now scorn and brave it; Furl it, hide it — let it rest!
Ray Drayton, Tyson Eckley, Jake Smith and Carl Frazier sang "Ode to Our Confederate Dead" and "Bonnie Blue Flag," accompanied by pianist Sandra Lee. Lee also accompanied Ashley Lattimer's solo of "The Jacket of Grey."
The solemn ceremony included the reading of the names of all of the Lee County veterans of the war followed by Lee playing a piano solo of "Dixie's Land."
"Our ancestors fought hard and came home to a devastated land," Tindal said before giving the crowd an overview of the original ceremony. "The ladies of Lee County saw what was happening up north. Monuments were being dedicated to Lincoln, Grant and Sherman. They wanted to do something for the Confederate veterans. So despite not having jobs, and not even being able to vote, they somehow raised the money.
"There were many performers that day, including a solo by Miss Cornelia Lavendar, a solo by Miss Alberta Woodward, who taught many generations of Bishopville children to play the piano and an address by Sen. E.D. 'Cotton Ed' Smith. The ladies who pulled the ribbons to unveil the monument that day included Mary Green Hill, Kathleen Tisdale, Sara Perrin, Elizabeth Stuckey and Myrtle Stuckey." As she read each name, Tindal called out several people in the crowd who were descendants.
"The ladies spread out blankets and provided hot meals for the veterans that day," Tindal said. "And you have to remember that the majority of the veterans were in their 50s. President Lincoln had been assassinated only 48 years earlier. So the war was still a fresh memory for many of them.
"The Lottie Green Chapter rededicates the monument today and we make this pledge for it to stand for another 100 years after that and another 100 years after that and another 100 years after that."
The Lee County Light Horses from the S.C. Cotton Museum stood at attention throughout the ceremony. Janson Cox said the group also performs color guard duties. Cox, Brett Bowen and Nate Sheller remained on their mounts during the ceremony. A fourth, rider-less horse was there in honor of the fallen soldiers.
The crowd watched as Janet Smith placed a wreath in front of the monument. Morning clouds provided respite from what otherwise would have been a blistering sun. A cool breeze added to the comfort.
Lattimer then sang a final solo, "Just Before the Battle, Mother." Then Bigbie, who had opened the ceremony with a prayer, closed it the same way.
The crowd took its time dispersing with many people standing before the wreath, paying tribute to, what for many, were their ancestors. For them this was a time of reflection and comfort, knowing that because of these ancestors' pasts, these descendants had a future.