William Wirt Humphreys and the Anderson County Confederate Monument – Pt 2

“It matters not, though they sleep ‘neath the solemn Southern pines or the stately hemlocks of the North, on the sloping hills of fair Arlington, beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless of storm or sunshine, we have but one sentiment for these sleeping soldiers – ‘tis that we honor and remember them.” Elizabeth Bleckley

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Anderson County Confederate Monument (Author’s collection)

The statue atop the Anderson County Confederate Monument is of a soldier standing at parade rest. The soldier’s likeness is of William Wirt Humphreys, although he was not alive to see it unveiled. The story of his life was told in a previous post. This is how the monument came to be.

 

By most accounts, the movement to dedicate a Confederate monument for the veterans of Anderson County began on Decoration Day in 1886. However, a search of the Anderson Intelligencer for that period had turned up no mention of this. This is not to suggest that such a meeting did not take place, but there was a movement spearheaded by Leonora Conners “Nora” Hubbard, a local school teacher and head of the Anderson Home School, to raise funds for a monument.

For over fifty years, Miss Hubbard taught in Anderson schools and she was a well known and respected educator both in the community and across the state. If the project was to succeed, it would be Nora Hubbard who would see it happen. She began planning the monument in 1891. In June, the Home School gave a public commencement which raised $135 from ticket sales. This was the first major contribution to a monument.

In 1893, James A. Hoyt delivered a eulogy at the service of his longtime friend and co-editor, William W. Humphreys calling for a monument to be dedicated to Confederate veterans. Hoyt wanted the monument to be erected in the city cemetery at Old Silver Brook, but this location was not to be. Five years later, in April 1895, Miss Hubbard organized the Ladies’ Memorial Association of Anderson County and was elected its first president.

The first task of the association was to raise money. Over the next few years, they hosted a series of events including bake sales, cake walks, suppers, silver teas, and baby showers, just to name a few. These raised $2500.00 for the monument, enough to secure a contract. The next step was to design one, and this task was given to the design committee was named, consisting of representatives of the steak holders:

  • Miss Nora Hubbard, Mrs. Elizabeth Bleckley, and Miss Ditma Gilmer, representing the Ladies’ Memorial Association
  • Charles S. Sullivan, representing the Robert E. Lee Chapter, U.D.C.
  • J.M. Patrick, representing the Dixie Chapter, U.D.C.
  • Milledge L. Bonham and J.F. Clinkscales, representing the county’s Confederate veterans

Bonham was the son of General Milledge Bonham. Clinkscales was a sergeant in Company C, 4th South Carolina Volunteer Regiment, which next became Company E, 13th South Carolina Battalion, and, finally, Companies I and K of The Hampton Legion.

Oscar Hammond, a sculptor from Greenville, was commissioned to create the monument. He designed a four-part monument made of Tennessee gray marble. The first part is a triple base with levels that decrease in size. The second part consists of two four-sided dies separated by rough stone. Each side of the die bears inscriptions by William A. Todd. The inscriptions on the monument not only memorialize the veterans of Anderson, but each branch of the Confederate military. Two versions of the Confederate flags are also inscribed on the die.

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Anderson County Confederate Monument (Author’s collection)

  • North

    North Side Inscription (Author’s collection)

    North Side: On the upper die is inscribed a Palmetto tree over crossed swords overtop a laurel wreath, representing the Confederate Cavalry. On the lower die is a depiction of the Battle Flag and the following from Father Ryan’s poem “The Conquered Banner:”

“Though conquered, we adore it!

Love the Cold, dead hands that bore it!”

  • West

    West Side Inscription (Author’s collection)

    West Side: On the upper die is inscribed “CSA” and an unfurled Stainless Banner over cannon wheel, cannon balls, and cannon swabs, representing the Confederate Artillery. On the lower die is inscribed a list of the great battles of the war: 1st Manassas, Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Gaines’ Mill, Frazier’s Farm, 2nd Manassas, Boonsborough, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Chickamauga, the Wilderness, Spottsylvania (misspelled on the monument), Chancellorsville, Malvern Hill, Petersburg, Gettysburg, Franklin, Atlanta, and Appomattox.

  • South

    South Side Inscription (Author’s collection)

    South Side: On the upper die is a wreath and an unfurled Stainless Banner, over D.C. 61-65, over an anchor and a ship’s wheel, representing the Confederate Navy. On the lower die is more from “The Conquered Banner:”

“The World shall yet decide, in Truth’s clear, far-off light,

That the soldiers who wore the gray, and died with Lee, were in the right.”

  • East

    South Side Inscription (Author’s collection)

    East Side: On the upper die is inscribed “CSA” over three stacked bayoneted rifles, a canteen, and a cartridge pouch over top a laurel wreath, representing the Confederate Infantry. On the plinth between the upper and lower dies, “Our Confederate Dead” is inscribed in raised letters. On the lower die us the following inscription:

The spirit of chivalry was not dead in 1861, when the soldiers of the Confederacy went forth to battle for the love of home and country, and for the preservation of Constitutional liberty. How well they acted their part in the gigantic drama of war which for four years convulsed the American continent and held the attention of the world, let the truthful and impartial historian tell. Let him record how they wrestled victory from foes who far surpassed them in numbers, in excellence of arms and equipment, and in all the provisions and munitions of war, and who were supported by the material, moral and political power of almost the entire civilized world; let him record with what courage they met death and danger, with what fortitude they endured sickness and imprisonment, with what unflagging cheerfulness they sustained privations and sufferings; and above all let him record with what endurance they met defeat, and how in poverty and want, broken in health, but not in spirit, they have re-created the greatness of the South, and made it again the sweetest land in earth. In grateful acknowledgement of their prowess in war, and their achievements in peace, this monument is erected, that it may teach the generations of the future the story of the matchless, unfading and undying honor which the Confederate soldier won.

The third section is a column consisting of fourteen blocks, alternating smooth and rough.

Standing on top of the column is the fourth section, a seven foot, six inch tall statue of a soldier standing at parade rest. When Hammond proposed a statue, the design committee could have easily chosen one of several common designs but they elected to use the likeness of a local man. The decision of whose likeness to use was easy. One man had represented the best among the Confederate veterans in Anderson County; one man had stood with them and helped organize the annual reunions; he had served as intendent and as the Grand Master of the state’s Freemasons. He was William Wirt Humphreys.

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Anderson County Confederate Monument (Author’s collection)

The Anderson County Confederate Monument was dedicated during the chilly afternoon of Saturday, January 18, 1902. Thousands turned out for the unveiling ceremonies, and one hundred and fifty Confederate veterans were in attendance. People began to assemble at the courthouse at a very early hour and continued to arrive until noon. The courtroom was the location of the speeches, and it was filled to capacity. Most were waiting outside for the unveiling. The courtroom was tastefully and appropriately decorated. A large painting of General Robert E. Lee, especially hung for the occasion, overlooked the gathering. The program order was as follows:

  • “Maryland, My Maryland,” played by the Clemson Band
  • Welcome by General Milledge L. Bonham of the United Confederate Veterans and Master of Ceremonies
  • Invocation delivered by the Reverend J.D. Chapman, pastor of First Baptist Church
  • “Dixie,” sung by a children’s choir directed by Zula Brock
  • tolly

    Mayor George F. Tolly (Jake Phillips, Hiram Lodge)

    Speech delivered by Mayor George F. Tolly, Confederate veterans and member of the Palmetto Riflemen

  • Reading on the history of the monument by Mrs. Elizabeth Bleckley
  • Speech delivered by Thomas W. Carwile, a decorated Confederate soldier from Edgefield
  • Instrumental music played by the Clemson Band
  • Recitation of “Music on the Rappahannock,” by Mrs. A.P. Johnson
  • Speech by James Armstrong, Jr., the famed “Irish Orator” of Charleston, introduced by General Bonham
  • “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” sung by ladies of the Robert E. Lee and Dixie Chapters, U.D.C.
  • Speech delivered by Colonel Samuel W. Wilkes of Atlanta, a native of Anderson, and whose father had been a member of the 4th South Carolina Volunteers and died in the war; introduced by General Bonham
  • Resolution introduced by the Confederate Veterans, read by Adjutant L.P. Smith of Camp Stephen D. Lee, and unanimously passed, expressing profound gratitude to the Ladies’ Memorial Association for their work in erecting the monument
  • “The Conquered Banner,” sung by Mrs. Cora Ligon (known as “Aunt Cora”) with music written by Mrs. Emily Reed Miller, and a tattered Confederate flag held by Miss Nellie Humphreys, General Humphreys’ daughter
Confederate Monument - First Street Light Erected

Anderson’s first street light being raised with the Confederate Monument in background

The veterans then led a march out of the courthouse and formed a circle around the base of the veiled monument. Nora Hubbard made her way through the crowd, carrying a folded Confederate flag in her arms, and stood at the monument’s base. James Hoyt delivered a few words and then, after holding Hoyt her flag and with great pride, Miss Hubbard pulled the string to unveil the monument. The string, however, broke. A young boy from the crowd seized his opportunity, and climbed the monument and lowered the veil. The crowd erupted in applause and cheers as the Anderson Rifles fired three salutes. The Clemson Band played “Taps,” and the ceremony ended.

Unlike other Confederate monuments in South Carolina, the Anderson County monument is in its original location, situated between the historic and “new” courthouse. It was once the centerpiece of a downtown park, crisscrossed with walkways and dotted with shade trees.

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Anderson County Confederate Monument (Author’s Collection)

Leonora Hubbard died November 2, 1933. She was laid to rest in Old Silver Brook Cemetery. On her tombstone is inscribed the following: “For more than fifty years she was a teacher in the schools of the City of Anderson. Others wrought in brick and stone; she sought to shape the lives of men.”

 

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