To the editor:
A number of citizens are under the mistaken impression that the United Daughters of the Confederacy was the moving force in the erection of the Confederate monument on the Covington Square. In actuality, the idea of erecting a monument to honor the Confederate dead of Newton County originated with Jefferson-Lamar Camp #305 of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV).
The Camp had become interested in the undertaking in about 1892, having observed that monuments were being raised in towns and counties throughout the state, but more importantly they were motivated by the fact that death was rapidly “thinning the ranks” of the Camp’s veterans. It was considered most urgent that a monument be raised in Newton County (Covington), while there were veterans still alive. The fundraising effort began about 1894, and while initially successful, the drive began to stall after the first few months (after all, times were still hard in the post-war south, and the nation would soon be racked by severe recessions).
In 1904, the Ladies Memorial Association approached the UCV with an offer to assist in the fundraising effort (probably viewing this as a logical extension of their principle duty of maintaining the graves of the deceased veterans). The offer was accepted, and with the help of the ladies funds began to roll in and “success was assured!”
A monument committee was then formed consisting of five members of the UCV and chaired by Captain James M. Pace, then serving as Commander of the Camp. The Committee responded to the suggestions of the Camp’s members as well as those made by the ladies.
When the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) came forward with an offer to purchase the soldier’s figure that would crown the monument, they also were consulted as the project moved forward. Captain Pace and the committee negotiated a contract with Butler Marble and Granite Company in Elberton to execute the Covington monument. This firm had established a good “track record” in the monument business by this time.
The monument committee worked with officials of the City of Covington concerning the placement of the monument, details surrounding its dedication and probably maintenance concerns for the monument, looking to the future.
The monument’s unveiling ceremony was originally scheduled for November of December of 1905, but was delayed until April of 1906 due to a delay in the delivery of the Confederate soldier’s statue.
According to the estimates made at the time, there were about 3,000 people present for the monument’s dedication on the Confederate Memorial Day, April 26, 1906. Captain Pace gave a brief account of the events that had led up to this day and in his address stated that the monument had been erected “TO PERPETUATE THE MEMORY OF THE CONFEDERATE DEAD OF NEWTON COUNTY.” He also gave the ladies of the Memorial Association and the UDC well-earned praise for their roles in erecting the monument (and that praise is expressed tangibly in the space on the monument acknowledging the important role women played in the war effort).
At the conclusion of the dedication ceremony, a parade was “taken up” from City Park to the City Cemetery, where additional remarks were made by local dignitaries and guests, and the graves of the Confederates interred there were decorated with flowers.
Gene P. Gaillard