May 9 ceremony commemorates Confederate Memorial Day
The Ellison Capers Chapter 70 United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Pee Dee Rifles Camp 1419 Sons of Confederate Veterans will be conducting a Memorial Service in honor of Confederate Memorial Day on Saturday, May 9. The service begins at 11 a.m. and will be held at the Confederate Soldiers Monument in Mount Hope Cemetery located at 100 Cherokee Road. Guest speaker is Ms Teresa Roane of Richmond, VA. Uniformed reenactors will perform rifle and cannon salutes. The public is invited. Roane is the archivist for the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Richmond, VA.
She is a member of the Stonewall Jackson Chapter 1705 and serves as director of the Richmond Chapter 819, Children of the Confederacy. Teresa is the great great granddaughter of George Washington of King and Queen County, VA. He was a free man of color who helped build a fortification on the York River to protect the coastline from Union Invasion. Confederate Memorial Day has been observed in Florence for over 130 years. This year’s observance is significant because it commemorated the 150th Anniversary of the end of the War Between the States.
“It is our duty to remember those brave men who left their homes and families to defend their country” said James York, commander of the local Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp. Facts about the Confederate Soldier’s Monument in Florence:
• In 1878 the Ellison Capers, Maxy Gregg and Florence Chapters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy came together and formed a memorial society. The intent being to properly care for the Confederate soldier’s graves in the Old Presbyterian Church cemetery.
• In 1881 money was raised for a monument and an order was placed to Veitt’s Marble Yard in Charleston. Upon arrival, the monument was erected in the Confederate section of the cemetery. The Confederate graves in the cemetery were those of soldiers who died in the Wayside Hospital and/or from the military camps associated with the Florence Prison Stockade for federal prisoners.
• In the early 1900s the church property, including the cemetery, was sold to the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. Prior to the sale, the Confederate dead were moved to a mass grave at Mt. Hope Cemetery. Due to the age of the cemetery, the deterioration of the wooden headboards and the loss of burial records to a fire, the identities of most of the soldiers were lost. Therefore, the remains of 64 Confederate soldiers were reburied at Mt. Hope as unknowns. The Confederate Monument now stands on the center of that hallowed place.
• To date, the remains of three soldiers buried in the mass grave have been identified. Those are Pvt. John W. Abernathy, Co D, 3rd Battalion, SC Reserves; Pvt. Daniel S. Lyles, Co F, 26th NC Infantry and Pvt. William Porter, Co D, 3rd Battalion SC Reserves. Ongoing research is underway to determine as many of the unknown soldiers buried at the site as possible. The total number of Confederate soldiers buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery is 180.