Monuments mark Confederate historic sites in Jefferson County

July 19, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |
  • Confederate monument No. 1 is one of 25 monuments originally erected in Jefferson County in 1910. Eleven of the monuments were replaced in 2002 and 2003. This monument is on W.Va. 480 a quarter-mile north of old W.Va. 9 in Kearneysville, W.Va.
By Richard Belisle, Staff Writer

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Motorists driving by might assume they are some kind of highway department markers.

Those small numbered white obelisks emblazoned with Confederate flags mark spots, or near spots, where incidents, skirmishes or significant battles took place in Jefferson County during the Civil War.

In 1910, the local United Confederate Veterans, Jefferson County Camp No. 123, forerunner of today's 50-member local Sons of Confederate Veterans, installed 25 monuments in the county to mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of the start of the Civil War in 1911.

Roger Preston Chew of Jefferson County (1843-1921), an officer who rode first with Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and later with Gen. J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry, wrote "Military Operations in Jefferson County Virginia (Now West Virginia) 1861-1865."

It was published in 1911 by the United Confederate Veterans to serve as a guide to their monuments. The book lists monuments by number, their location and details of what occurred at the sites during the war.

James C. Holland of Shepherdstown, W.Va., emeritus professor of history at Shepherd University, wrote the introduction and updated the fifth edition of Chew's book in 2004.

Chew, describing the county's military units, said there were "ten companies of infantry, cavalry and artillery raised in Jefferson County, Virginia. A large majority of the people in Jefferson County were in sympathy with the movement to separate from the Union, and the flower of her men took up arms in defense of the Southern cause."

Rusty Morgan, 68, of Rippon, W.Va., farmer, former Jefferson County commissioner and member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, led an effort in 2002 and 2003 to replace 11 of the original monuments that had fallen into disrepair or had disappeared.

Among those helping on the project were fellow sons members William Senseney, a former county sheriff and now a Jefferson County magistrate, and Don Amoroso of Shepherdstown.

All three are direct descendants of Confederate veterans.

Morgan's great-grandfather, William A. Morgan, an officer in Jefferson County's Hamtramck Guards, fought through the war. Morgan's Grove Park in Shepherdstown is named for him.

Amoroso, 75, said his great-grandfather, Cleon Moore, fought with "Bott's Greys," a Jefferson County battalion.

Senseney, 62, said his great-grandfather fought with a Virginia outfit from Manassas.

Morgan, who studied art in college in Mexico, led the replacement effort by asking Ranson, W.Va., welder Harvey Briggs to make and donate a two-section steel mold that Morgan designed.

"The original monuments were hollow and had a base and an obelisk," Morgan said. "They were light enough for one man to carry. The ones we made are solid concrete, one piece, and weigh about 400 pounds."

It requires a front-end loader to move them around.

"We wouldn't want some Shepherd University students to pick one up and take it their dorm for a party," Senseney said.

Morgan designed the Confederate flag with its St. Andrews Cross and stars that appear on the monuments. The stars were fired by local potter Pam Parziale.

The Confederacy had 11 states, but its flag has 13 stars.

Dennis Frye, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park historian, said  that the South included the border states of Kentucky and Missouri as part of its Confederacy even though the two states never officially seceded.

Over the years, some of the monuments had to be moved from their original sites because of highway and other construction projects or because new property owners wanted them moved.

"A woman in Middleway didn't want the one in her yard, but one in Duffields wouldn't let us take hers away," Senseney said. "People were stopping to thank us, saying what we were doing was wonderful. One woman begged us to put a monument in her yard."

One of the original monuments is in the Jefferson County Museum in the basement of the Charles Town Library and another is in the museum in the Entler Hotel in Shepherdstown, Morgan said.

Amoroso said some original monuments were replaced in the 1980s by an earlier group of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The location of the monuments and history of each site can be found by the map and narrative in Chew's book.

Not surprising for a Confederate author, the book favors the Southern side as shown in a passage detailing the exploits of the Jefferson Guards. It tells of the capture of John Brown's party in Harpers Ferry in October 1859 "by Colonel Robert E. Lee (afterwards the immortal General Robert E. Lee of the Army of Northern Virginia)...."

An example of Chew's narrative appears in his description of the action at Marker No. 6. It sits in the fork of the road two miles south of Shepherdstown where W.Va. 230 (Halltown Road) separates from Flowing Springs Road, which leads to Charles Town.

According to the account, on Oct. 16, 1862, cavalry units under Gen. Stuart were driven back to the fork by Yankees where the Confederates "made a determined stand."

Losses on both sides were considerable, Chew wrote.

"Our badly wounded were taken to the Uvilla churches and neighboring farms and cared for."

Holland's update — including his introduction, acknowledgement and sources, roster of the original United Confederate Veterans, name and place index plus his inclusion of Abram Joseph Ryan's poem, "The Conquered Banner" — bring the total number of pages to 58 plus the folded map inside the back cover.

The book is available for $15 at the Four Seasons Bookstore in Shepherdstown and other area bookstores.

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