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Oxford’s Olden Days: Confederate Monuments Downtown and on Campus

OxfordOldenDaysIn 1906 and 1907, two Confederate Monuments were erected one the Ole Miss Campus and one the Square in downtown Oxford. The idea for a monument had begun long before the first monument was dedicated on the University of Mississippi campus on May 10, 1906. It had been the idea of the Memorial Association formed, soon after the Civil War, by Oxford residents. This committee later merged with the Albert Sidney Johnston Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Chapter 379.

The ladies that formed this association were, “Southern women, whose purpose has ever been to commemorate the chivalrous deeds of the men of 1861-65 and to hold aside the curtain of memory that those who will may read the story as it was written—as it was lived—in the bitter day of war and reconstruction.” They were to solicit money for a monument to those men who by, “their deeds of valor are forever stamped on the memory of the fair women of Mississippi, who, as the Vestal virgins of ancient times kept ablaze the sacred fires of their deity, preserve and perpetuate the memorial flame of love and patriotism for the great cause that was overwhelemed, not lost; overpowered, not defeated.”

These words were written in the October, 1906 issue of the Confederate Veteran. It must have been a grand day when this monument was dedicated on the edge of the University Circle, just across from Ventress and in front the Lyceum. The deeds of the Confederate soldier the statue honored was placed on the western face of the monument and on top was a figure of a soldier. This figure of the Confederate soldier was standing with his hand to his face, at his brow, looking for the enemy, and peering through the grand oaks in front of him, in search of their location.

The festivities of the day began at 1:30 PM when a group of people began to gather on the Square in downtown Oxford. These people were to march from the Square, down South Street to University Avenue and then to the designated place on the Ole Miss campus for the unveiling of the new Confederate Soldier Monument. First in line was to be the First Regiment Band; then a beautifully decorated carriage with Charles Scott, of Rosedale, the quest speaker for the dedication. Along with Scott were C. L. Sively and Rev. W. D. Heddleston. Next were carriages with the prominent men and women of Oxford, and then several carriages with the “fairest of the young flowers of Oxford”, representing each the Confederate States. The veterans of the war were next, carrying a worn Confederate Battle Flag, followed by a gray uniformed Cadet Corp from the local training school, one of which was carrying the stars and stripes.

Scott, who was a Confederate veteran and a son of Mississippi, stated in his dedication speech, “that go where you will within the confines of the civilized world, and the memory of Southern valor and Southern chivalry is venerated and esteemed.” He recounted a recent visit to the Continent and a stay at the Grand Hotel in Paris with his daughter and wife. While eating in the grand rotunda, that seated some fifteen hundred people, the band played the national anthems of various countries. They played the one for Great Britain and the United States. They then played the “Marseillaise” for France and then, to the great delight of Scott and his family, the band began to play “Dixie”. Every light in the grand rotunda was turned on, the strains of “Dixie” began to grow louder and louder, then all the people in the rotunda rose to their feet in “prolonged and deafening applause”.

The Dedication Day Speaker went on to say, “This ovation to ‘Dixie’ was not an accident. The air was rendered again during our stay at the same hotel. Again the reserve lights flashed on and the applause followed, a distinction not accorded to any other national air. Why is ‘Dixie’ so honored in the far-off land of the French lilies? The cause is not far to seek. It is the involuntary homage paid by the civilized world to the memory of the old South, once radiant with all the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome. And the world is beginning to recognize this fact, and we are now, in part at least, understood.” At the end of his speech, Scott quoted the Oxford statesman and great orator, L.Q.C. Lamar, “My countrymen, know one another, and you will love one another.”

The young ladies, representing the Confederate States, then sang the “Bonnie Blue Flag” and placed their garlands of roses at the base of the monument. After speeches by Charles Alexander for the University, J. F. Brown for the veterans and a veteran of the Lamar Rifles himself, and Mrs. J. S. Hudson for the UDC, the veterans assembled fired a parting salute of three volleys. This ended the ceremony at the first Confederate Soldier Monument in Lafayette County Mississippi.

Mayfield 34Jack Lamar Mayfield is a fifth generation Oxonian, whose family came to Oxford shortly after the Chickasaw Cession of 1832, and he is the third generation of his family to graduate from the University of Mississippi. He is a former insurance company executive and history instructor at Marshall Academy in Holly Springs, South Panola High School in Batesvile and the Oxford campus of Northwest Community College.

In addition to his weekly blog in HottyToddy.com Oxford’s Olden Days, Mayfield is also the author of an Images of America series book titled Oxford and Ole Miss published in 2008 for the Oxford-Lafayette County Heritage Foundation. The Foundation is responsible for restoring the post-Civil War home of famed Mississippi statesman, L.Q.C. Lamar and is now restoring the Burns Belfry, the first African American Church in Oxford.

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Adam Brown
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