“The graves of the Confederate dead will always be green in my memory, and their deeds be hallowed in my recollection.” R. E. Lee
Georgia skies smiled upon the upcoming event, as preparations for the annual Confederate Memorial Day Service was finalized. The grounds were immaculate, with the flags unfurled as they danced in the wind. The fountain reminded men of living water and that the nine hundred plus and fourteen Federal soldiers had perpetual water in the center of their final resting place.
Anticipation grew as the crowd swelled to over a hundred people in attendance. For a brief moment, the air was filled with the distant voices of those who had gone before. Then Dr. John Baxley, Commander of the E. Porter Alexander Camp #158 offered a welcome.
The special guests were recognized, followed by the invocation offered by Chaplain Ben Creech. The crowd was asked to stand as the Pledge of Allegiance, Pledge to the Georgia flag, salute to the Christian Flag, and salute to the Confederate flag were recited. Then Commander Baxley reminded everyone as to why we must devote ourselves to recall our American history, heritage and legacy by reciting the Charge to the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Erick Montgomery, Executive Director of Historic August provided comments and historical facts about the fountain and the two hundred-year-old Magnolia Cemetery. His comments were followed by the Quartermaster and Commanders recognition and presentation of awards. General Wade Hampton (Eddy Rogers) offered a sterling introduction of the keynote speaker. The Old General offered the defining speech entitled, ‘Safeguarding Sacred Principles’. The salute was picture perfect in its execution, and the somber laying of the wreaths at the fountain and the generals’ walk, which honor the seven generals buried within the sacred soil of Magnolia Cemetery moved the spectators. Benediction was given by Chaplain Creech and Dixie; the song of the South, was song.
Everyone gathered around for ‘capturing images’, followed by fellowship amongst all who stayed. One of the highlights for the old general was to have his picture taken with the great grandson of General E. Porter Alexander and the comradery of all. The tour of the city by Dr. Baxley and General Wade Hampton, left this fielder in awe of our American legacy.
Dr. Baxley graciously agreed to write an After-Action Report that is submitted in its entirety so that all who contributed will be recognized. The AAR is attached. It was a great day in Georgia!
“April 27, 2019 was a once in a lifetime experience for Compatriots of the South and their friends in the two hundred-year-old Magnolia Cemetery in Augusta, Georgia. With hundreds of battle flags flapping in the breeze over our sacred Confederate Dead and our newly rebuilt one hundred fifty-year-old fountain of life spraying its living waters among the “bivouac of the dead”, over one hundred friends of the South were treated to an unforgettable presentation by General Robert E. Lee (David Chaltas of Kentucky). His poetic and humble blessing of our beloved sacred ground of the “Boys in Gray” buried amongst the oldest magnolia trees in Georgia will long be remembered.
“The section of the historic cemetery where almost 400 Confederate veterans from every Southern state were laid to rest was donated by the city during the last year of the War for Southern Independence. After the Battle of Atlanta in July of 1864, the eight Confederate hospitals in Augusta were overrun with patients. Physicians became so desperate they put out a call to the over thirty thousand citizens to take in soldiers who were convalescing from their wounds to make room for the additional three thousand wounded in need of care. This was done with no hesitation with soldiers of all rank to include General James Longstreet receiving outstanding home health care for days on end. Home healthcare nurses would report the progress of their patients weekly to the Confederate medical administrative offices headquartered at the Medical College of Georgia on Telfair Street.
“Despite their outstanding care, many of the wounded still succumbed of disease, dying from infectious diseases such as gangrene, smallpox, typhoid fever and dysentery. With the transportation system broken down and overwhelmed, there was no way to ship the dearly departed home. With over sixty acres of public burial ground available in Augusta’s Magnolia Cemetery, land was set aside for these heroes of the War who made the ultimate sacrifice defending their homeland. They have laid in repose for over one hundred fifty years, having never returned to their loved ones of yesteryear. To honor their great deeds, the Ladies Memorial Association in 1873 had a fountain placed in the middle of their final resting place. Dedicated in that year with a wreath for our beloved General Robert E. Lee placed on the fountain, it remained a source of “living waters” and a memorial to all soldiers who never made it home after “crossing over the river and resting under the shade of the trees”. Over the years the fountain began to age and crumble. Cracks and leaks would appear. Pumps would frequently fail. Maintenance became a difficult issue. Finally, in the year 2011, the Compatriots and friends of the General E. Porter Alexander SCV Camp #158 decided the glorious fountain needed to be rebuilt. Having cared for over four hundred of the Confederate graves in the cemetery the past thirty years, the camp felt it their duty to take on the project.
“After eight years of fundraising and three years on construction, the project was finally completed one day before the annual Confederate Memorial Day celebration on April 27, 2019. On that glorious day we were graced by the presence of David Chaltas from Kentucky who gave us a moving speech while in the persona of General Robert E. Lee. After his blessing, with bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace”, cannons and a twelve-man honor guard giving black powder salutes along with widows dressed in their widow’s weeds placing memorial wreaths again on the fountain, our “Boy’s in Gray” were again safe at rest in the historic Magnolia Cemetery. With such a beautiful day, such meaningful Christian fellowship, and a bald eagle swooping down over the Confederate red fountain at the end of General Lee’s speech, we all knew God had a hand in such a glorious time.”
Your humble servant Dr. John B. Baxley, Commander of Gen. E. Porter Alexander SCV Camp #158. For further information about the E. Porter Alexander SCV Camp, go to https://www.facebook.com/alexandercamp158/.