Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Confederate Veterans Honored In Texas

Crowley Cemetery event honors Confederate Veterans from Tarrant, Johnson counties Thursday June 16, 2011

The sun glowed in the southern sky Saturday morning as the Stars and Bars were proudly displayed at Crowley Cemetery.

Confederate veterans from Tarrant and Johnson counties — and all those who fought for the south in the War Between the States — were recognized through a monument unveiled during a ceremony that featured authentic period dress and six color guard members firing muskets.

The ceremony was organized by the Sons of Confederate Veterans Robert E. Lee Camp No. 239, which is based in Fort Worth and has a large presence in Crowley because of the cemetery.

“Several Confederate veterans are buried here,” Camp 239 Commander Ben Hatch said. “We decided to put the monument here not only to honor these soldiers, but for all the Confederate veterans of Johnson and Tarrant counties.”

Small confederate battle flags were posted at the grave sites of the 20 soldiers of the Confederacy buried in Crowley.

“Nine of the men on the stone came from here before the war,” said Camp First Lt. Cmdr. Barry Turnage of Crowley, who served as master of ceremonies. “Two of them, Daniel W. Hayden and William M. Holdridge, died in the war and came home to be buried.”

Other Confederate veterans buried at the Crowley Cemetery — 11 of whom came to the area alive after the war — are Andrew T. Armstrong, James B. Austin, John Birdwell, Young P. Bowers, L. Calloway Burgess, William H. Coltharp, Gabriel R. Conner, Commodore C. Dunwoody, Enoch S. Evans, Sampson H. Hollow, James A. Hutchins, John D. McEntire, David I. Murphy, Jasper N. Ogletree, Addison Rosamond, James J. Scott and Sterling M. Smith.

Adjutant Beau Purdom read the names of the 20 during the ceremony.

The Confederate veterans buried in Crowley came to Texas because of the valuable and inexpensive land, according to Peggy Fox, former director of Hill College’s Confederate Research Center, who spoke at Saturday’s ceremony.

“They first settled in the Alvarado district,” Fox said.

Turnage added to the historical narrative, focusing on the time just before the War Between the States.

“Five years after the fall of the Alamo, people came here to Tarrant County,” he said. “In 1847, more pioneers came to a place farther south, to the Tarrant/Johnson county line. They found Deer Creek very exciting. The farms and ranches were salvaged from the prairie by men who were not afraid to work or fight.

“After the war, a surge of people moved west to Tarrant County. The railroad came in and the settlement was named for the head of the railroad, S.H. Crowley.”

The monument, which was funded through various fundraising drives in the past couple of years on land bought from the Crowley Cemetery Association for $1, is timely, Turnage said.

“It’s appropriate to do this this year, because 2011 is the first year of the sesquicentennial of the War Between the States,” he said.

The cemetery association was happy to help the Sons of Confederate Veterans, association vice president Troy Chapman said.

“Barry (Turnage) came to us about a year ago about the idea,” Chapman said. “We were proud to give it to them.”

The Sons of the Confederate Veterans, with 71 members in the Robert E. Lee Camp 239, is a historical and genealogical organization, according to Hatch, the commander.

“We’re honoring our Confederate ancestors,” he said. “We’re defending the reputation of the American south and trying to correct the interpretation of the history of mid-19th century America.”

One misconception, Hatch said, is the emphasis on slavery.

“Slavery is certainly one of the issues, but like anything else, it wasn’t just one issue,” Hatch said. “The war was primarily fought over economic reasons. Slavery plays into the economic picture, but taxes and tariffs were also involved.”

Fox, in her speech, said “Taxes were levied on the south by the northern-dominated Congress.”

Hatch also explained why he and many in the south prefer to call the 1861-1865 conflict the War Between the States — and other names — instead of the most-commonly used Civil War.”

“Civil war implies people trying to take over a national government,” he said. “They didn’t want to take over the government; they wanted to split off and form a new nation.”