Fort Mill Times

Civil War soldiers to be honored at Fort Mill event

Soldiers who fought in the Civil War will be honored Saturday at Confederate Park, during a gathering held for Confederate Memorial Day.

The Brig. Gen. Micah Jenkins Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will read the names of Confederate war veterans who are buried in York County, place a wreath at the base of a monument recognizing Confederate veterans and conclude the ceremony with a musket salute and the firing of one of the cannons in the park.

The Camp, named for Jenkins, who led Confederate troops in South Carolina, holds this ceremony every year around May 10, the date recognized by the group as Confederate Memorial Day. That date was chosen because well-known Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson died May 10, 1863, and the Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, was captured May 10, 1865.

According to local historian William Bradford Jr., in his Fort Mill history book, "Out of the Past," Confederate Park, on lower Main Street, was designed and financed by Capt. Samuel E. White, an officer in the Confederate Army. White was the great-grandfather of Anne Springs Close, Bradford wrote, and donated the land for Confederate Park after the Civil War.

The first of four monuments was erected in 1891 and dedicated to local veterans of the Confederate Army. The names of those 171 veterans are etched into the monument.

Other monuments in Confederate Park include dedications to the "Women of the Confederacy'" and the 17 members of the Catawba Indian tribe who fought in the Confederate Army.

Possibly the most unique monument, a granite obelisk, is dedicated to "The faithful slaves who loyal to a sacred trust toiled for the support of the army and protected the defenseless women and children of the south."

According to Bradford, the monument is believed to be the only monument to slaves who served in the Confederate Army.

The cannons in Confederate Park were added in 1901, when "surplus, obsolete" cannons that once guarded the South Carolina coast were given away and Fort Mill requested two of them, Bradford said.

Fort Mill's monuments to Civil War history aren't contained to Confederate Park. The town was also the spot of the last full meeting of the Confederate President, Davis, and his cabinet on April 26, 1865. The meeting was held on the front lawn of the White Homestead on Hwy. 160 West, where a historical marker now stands to mark the location.

Less than two weeks after that meeting, Davis was captured by Union soldiers and charged with treason.

Although Confederate Memorial Day is one of the biggest events the Brig. Gen. Micah Jenkins Camp holds annually, the group also meets monthly in Rock Hill, where they typically have a guest speaker on local history.

They also place Confederate crosses on the graves of Confederate soldiers in York County and will help maintain the grave sites.

All of the members of the Camp have ancestors who are Confederate veterans.

The group is dedicated to "insuring that a true history of the 1861 to 1865 period is preserved," according to the group's Web site.

"I have six ancestors who fought in that war and to me, we're trying to get the public to know the true history of the suffering of the people in the south due to that war," Camp Commander Jim Floyd said.

"We love history, [we are] all about history."