New Confederate monument dedicated

Published 12:08 am Sunday, November 13, 2011

The new Confederate monument in Cedar Hill Cemetery will be completed within the next few weeks. Instead of a bronze plaque on the monument, a plastic replica took its place Saturday because it was not finished yet.

The Tom Smith Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Suffolk chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy came together to dedicate a new Confederate monument in Cedar Hill Cemetery on Saturday, in honor of Veterans Day.

The granite slab, which once served as a footer for a column in a Richmond theater, will eventually hold a bronze plaque with the names of units that mustered from Suffolk and Nansemond County to fight in the Civil War.

Because the plaque was not ready in time for the ceremony, a plastic replica took its place on Saturday. But it was no less meaningful to those present.

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“This monument is dedicated to the over 1,500 men and boys who left their homes in Suffolk and Nansemond County to fight for Virginia,” said Mike Pullen, commander of the Tom Smith Camp. The monument ensures their service “will never be tarnished by revisions of history,” he said.

The plaque will bear the names of 21 companies and their places of enlistment across the old county, from Chuckatuck to Cypress Chapel and from Pig Point to South Quay.

The granite stone has a unique Civil War history all its own.

The stone once served as a footer in the Marshall/Richmond Theater in Richmond. It was placed in 1818 when the building was constructed and was visible in basement dressing rooms.

The likes of 19th-century performers such as Jenny Lind, Sally Partington and Elizabeth Poe, the mother of author Edgar Allan Poe, at one time graced the stage of the theater. The infamous Booth family — father Junius Brutus Booth and sons Edwin and John — also performed there. The younger brother, future assassin of Civil War-era President Abraham Lincoln, even served as the stage manager at the theater for a time.

When the building at the corner of Seventh and Broad streets in Richmond was being demolished in 2005, Sons of Confederate Veterans members rescued the eight granite footings, which had been destined to be chipped into gravel.

“We are very fortunate to have this piece of granite,” Tom Smith Camp member Lee Hart said. “This stone was there. It saw some hardships, and it saw some joys.”

Some of the other stones now are parts of monuments in Richmond, Fauquier County, North Carolina and Tennessee.

The members of the two organizations said it was especially appropriate to dedicate the monument on Veterans Day during the sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War.

“We are here for the soldiers,” said Susan Carraway of the Suffolk United Daughters of the Confederacy. “It is their right and our duty to protect our Southern heritage.”

Hart said it was fitting that the new monument will stand within feet of the column marking the burial spot of Dr. William Brock Wellons, who was a chaplain in the Confederate army.

“He had the opportunity to bring many of them to Christ,” Hart said.