MOBILE, Alabama — On Sunday, the sounds of muskets and cannon fire will echo over downtown Mobile as the “Confederate Rest” section of Magnolia Cemetery is recognized for 150 years of use.
More than 1,100 soldiers who died in battle during the Civil War are buried at the site, which is one of the older memorials in the 1830s-era cemetery located at 1202 Virginia St. Originally called “Soldiers’ Rest,” the site was opened for use in 1862 and features a large obelisk, surrounded by marble gravestones and smaller memorials at its four corners.
Those memorials are dedicated to the Mobile Cadets, the Alabama State Artillery, the crew of the H.L. Hunley submarine and Gen. Braxton Bragg, who is entombed there.
A.J. “Joe” DuPree, memorials chairman for Raphael Semmes Camp 11 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said the 2 p.m. Sunday service will include brief ceremonies at each of the four corners, featuring a person or topic of speech related to its subject.
“Each time we do that, there will be a volley of musketry and a cannon fire to resonate in memory of those people and the sesquicentennial,” DuPree said.
In honor of the Mobile Cadets, the great-grandson of Cadet Capt. Robert M. Sands will speak, he said. Confederate re-enactors will participate in the memorial to the state artillery, and the Hunley monument will be memorialized by the president of the Electra Semmes Colston Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. That chapter erected the Hunley memorial, DuPree said.
The Raphael Semmes Camp 11 president will speak at Bragg’s tomb, he said.
“There will be people there in period uniform firing reproduction period weapons,” DuPree said. “The idea is that we continue to honor these peoples’ memories.
“They’re dead but not gone.”
The overall ceremony will have several purposes. It will not only celebrate Confederate Rest and serve as part of the four-year recognition of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, it will also celebrate Confederate Memorial Day which, in Alabama, will be celebrated on April 23 this year.
For DuPree, whose great-grandfather fought for the Confederacy, memorials such as Confederate Rest are a crucial part of historical responsibility in a free society.
“What they did is important because it was a heroic thing,” he said. “In the state of Alabama, 25 percent of the men of military age died in this war. And it gives you a sense of their devotion to the cause of liberty.
“A place like this shows you that there was actually a time when people would die because they believed that they gave government rights, government didn’t give them rights. That’s a remarkable thing.”