Confederate soldier still stands tall

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In 1917, the Georgia Confederate Veterans Battalion was assembled for a review before President Woodrow Wilson in Washington.

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The Confederate Monument, a 47-foot obelisk of Italian marble on a 25-foot base of Georgia granite, was dedicated on Oct. 31, 1878.   Sean Moores/Staff
Sean Moores/Staff
The Confederate Monument, a 47-foot obelisk of Italian marble on a 25-foot base of Georgia granite, was dedicated on Oct. 31, 1878.

Among them was a 74-year-old man named Berry Benson, a former sergeant wearing his old uniform and clutching the ancient rifle he never surrendered to the Union.

It's unknown whether Wilson recognized Benson, but he could have.

In the heart of Augusta, Wilson's boyhood home, stands a 76-foot-tall monument to the city's Confederate soldiers. On the corners of the monument's base are four famous generals; at the top is an anonymous soldier.

The model for that soldier was Benson.

Benson was born in Hamburg, S.C., a village that once stood on the other side of the Savannah River, near the current Fifth Street Bridge.

He joined the Hamburg Minutemen at age 17, along with his 15-year-old brother, and together they were mustered into the First South Carolina Volunteer Regiment in Charleston. He was part of the Edgefield Battery that bombarded Fort Sumter and witnessed the federal surrender of the fort in Charleston.

He saw action in several major battles, including Second Manassas and Fredericksburg in Virginia and Antietam in Maryland. He left the war to recover in Augusta after he was shot in the leg during battle in Chancellorsville, Va.

Benson returned to war in time to fight in one of the most fierce battles of the Civil War at Spotsylvania, Va.

His talent as a scout gave him many opportunities to reconnoiter and in Spotsylvania he stole a colonel's horse on impulse.

Twice he was captured and twice he escaped from Union prisons. The first escape involved swimming two miles across the Chesapeake Bay; the second found him digging a 65-foot tunnel under the prison camp in Elmira, N.Y.

He and his brother walked home to Augusta at the end of the war and never surrendered their rifles.

Benson was chosen as the model for the anonymous soldier by the Ladies Memorial Association in Augusta, which had previously erected monuments in the city's cemetery.

The base of the statue features four Confederate generals: William Henry Talbot Walker, representing Augusta; Robert E. Lee, representing the Confederacy; Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson, representing Virginia; and Thomas Reade Roots Cobb, representing Georgia.

The base of the monument is 25 feet of Georgia granite, from which rises a 47-foot obelisk of Italian marble. It was designed by Von Gunden of Philadelphia and carved in Carrara, Italy.

On one side is an inscription that begins: "No nation rose so white and fair, none fell so pure of crime."

Total cost: $17,331.35.

The monument was dedicated Oct. 31, 1878, the same year the Confederate Survivors' Association was formed.

Even at age 79, Benson was leading Boy Scout troops into the woods on 15-mile hikes.

He died Jan. 1, 1923.

Monument inscription

"No nation rose so white and fair, None fell so pure of crime

Worthy to have lived and known our gratitude

Worthy to be hallowed and held In tender remembrance

Worthy the fadless fame which Confederate soldiers won

Who gave themselves in life And death for us

For the honor of Georgia For the rights of the States

For the liberties of the South For the principles of the Union, as these were handed down to them, By the fathers of our common Country."

"Our Confederate Dead"

Erected A.D. 1878 by the Memorial Association of Augusta, In honor of the men of Richmond County, Who died in the cause of the Confederate States."

The series

As the 150th anniversary observations of Civil War history begin next week with the commemoration of the firing on Fort Sumter, The Augusta Chronicle looks back on our city's role in and connections to the war.

TODAY: Berry Benson, of Hamburg, S.C., is the model for the anonymous soldier atop Augusta's Confederate Monument.

TUESDAY: Alexander Stephens, of Crawfordville, Ga., chose books over farm work and served as vice president of the Confederacy.

WEDNESDAY: Robert Toombs, of Washington, Ga., excelled as a lawyer and later led troops into the battle at Antietam.

THURSDAY: The Battle of Aiken kept the city out of Union Gen. William T. Sherman's hands, but it is not much more than a footnote in Civil War history.

FRIDAY: Archeologists have recently unearthed detailed artifacts of one of the largest Confederate prisons, Camp Lawton, in Millen, Ga.

SATURDAY: Augusta's Confederate Powder Works produced millions of pounds of high-quality gunpowder for several major battles.

SUNDAY: Two seminal figures on their path to Civil War legend, Sherman and Capt. Robert Anderson of Fort Sumter fame, made stops in Augusta.

Comments (16) Add comment
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UncleRemus
26
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UncleRemus 04/04/11 - 04:16 am
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The Brig. Gen. E.P. Alexander

The Brig. Gen. E.P. Alexander Camp #158 Augusta, Sons of Confederate Veterans are now seeking donations to restore, repair and clean the Augusta Confederate Monument on Broad Street.

southern2
6153
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southern2 04/04/11 - 06:33 am
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It is one of the most

It is one of the most impressive monuments to the Confederacy I've ever seen. It amazes me the number of towns in the South that erected these huge markers, mostly in the courthouse square, to honor and remember those brave, honorable warriors and defenders of land, liberty, and life. The Daughters of the Confederacy deserve much of the credit for the placement of these memorials. Even more amazing is that the PC crowd hasn't removed them YET.

Dixieman
14972
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Dixieman 04/04/11 - 07:48 am
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I like it!

I like it!

onlysane1left
216
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onlysane1left 04/04/11 - 09:18 am
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Even more amazing is that the

Even more amazing is that the PC crowd hasn't removed them YET.

They are not an issue because they are of true historic value. They are an honor to the fallen soldiers of the Confederacy dedicted by people who had honorable values; Not hateful thugs trying to show people they think they are better others by displaying a symbol that they used to terrorize, demean, and destroy.

augustadog
88
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augustadog 04/04/11 - 09:46 am
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UncleRemus, post address to

UncleRemus, post address to forward donation and I will proudly support your cause as a member of Secession Camp #4, Charleston.
I read a quote on a Confederate monument in Mississippi that simply states our continued remembrance of "The Cause."
"Time will not dim the glory of their deeds." Deo Vindice.

seenitB4
87304
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seenitB4 04/04/11 - 10:27 am
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If you haven't been to

If you haven't been to Crawfordville to see the Alexander Stephens Park.....it is well worth a visit...We have a lot of history around the CSRA .......like it or not..it is our history..
http://www.gastateparks.org/AHStephens

Very interesting area around Washington Ga.& Crawfordville.

onlysane1left
216
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onlysane1left 04/04/11 - 11:13 am
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RA, the higher powers of the

RA, the higher powers of the Confederacy believed in what you have placed here, but the grunt soldiers who fought did so to keep their way of life the same. Most didn't own slaves, and, as many people LOVE to mention, towards the end, most slaves fought also. What was written in that piece was racist propaganda and why the Confederacy was wrong to exist, but the monument is to honor the soldiers who fought and died. The precepts of the Confederacy were wrong, but we can't blame the soldiers and condemn them all.

dokken3605
4
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dokken3605 04/04/11 - 12:07 pm
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Augustadog the address for

Augustadog the address for the Augusta camp is Son's of Confederate Veteran's B/G E. Porter Alexander Camp # 158 Po Box 3694 Hill Station Augusta Ga 30904

augustadog
88
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augustadog 04/04/11 - 02:13 pm
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onlysane1 , you are

onlysane1 , you are absolutely right.
And as I stated :
"Time will not dim the glory of their deeds." Deo Vindice.

seenitB4
87304
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seenitB4 04/05/11 - 06:18 am
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What we fail to mention is

What we fail to mention is that slavery is with us today....many young girls are held in sex-slave trade all over the world......I doubt we will see a war over them.....many are brought to the US... this isn't a crime that the South invented.
Also when a female is forced into a marriage... what do you call that??
This happens ... we know it does...does anyone get upset over that?

DanK
779
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DanK 04/05/11 - 09:41 pm
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I would donate to have it

I would donate to have it removed from its current location and broken into tiny shards. It is a very ugly, humiliating reminder of our disgusting history as racists and human slavers. Shameful men, and just as shameful now are those pretend there is something to be proud of in that history.

KSL
129904
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KSL 04/05/11 - 10:08 pm
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Tell me, DanK, tell me how

Tell me, DanK, tell me how many southerners actually owned slaves. Do a little further research and tell me how many black people owned slaves. Go a little further and do some research on the actual issues causing the secession.

KSL
129904
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KSL 04/05/11 - 10:22 pm
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The very first friend I can

The very first friend I can remember that I had was Minnie Lee. I was three. She was six. I have a picture in my Baby Book of Minnie Lee and me taken by someone in my family with her arm around me. I later learned she was paid to kind of look after me. But we were friends. I got to see her when when we visited my grandparents' home. All I knew was that she was a playmate and friend. That was my south, Georgia to be exact, in the early 1950's. I was not aware there was any difference between her and me. I was never made aware that was a difference between her and me. (Guess there really wasn't) I don't know what happened to her. I'm guessing her mother moved north and took her with her. Over the years there were cooks and caretakers from my early life that I did meet up with. They came back to visit us. Just never saw Minnie Lee again.

DanK
779
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DanK 04/06/11 - 07:39 pm
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Tell me, KSL, do you really

Tell me, KSL, do you really believe that the Civil War was not about slavery? Do you really believe that the southern whites were not racists? Really? I've done the research. You, apparently, have been fed a very large load of misinformation, propaganda and lies that tries to rewrite history. It's been 150 years. It's time to stand up like men and admit that our southern ancestors were wrong, and then move on to make this a better world.

KSL
129904
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KSL 04/06/11 - 08:15 pm
0
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You didn't answer my

You didn't answer my question. But no, I do NOT believe the Civil War was fought over slavery. Slavery was in the process of ending and would have ended in the US without the Civil War. The Civil War was about state's rights. If you want references, when I have time to give you book and page numbers with footnotes to other books and pages, I will provide that info for you. Better still, do your own research sans prejudice. And about those numerous blacks who owned slaves, what say you?

seabeau
33
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seabeau 04/08/11 - 06:25 am
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DanK! The Victors write the

DanK! The Victors write the history books, Not the Just!! You sir, must be a product of public education!

LP.SAV
0
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LP.SAV 04/15/11 - 02:50 pm
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General W.H.T. Walker died

General W.H.T. Walker died defending Atlanta during Shermann's march to the sea. He was born in Augusta, and fought proudly defending his home state from the Northern Aggressors. Remember, the Civil War was started with a Northern Invasion at Ft. Sumter in South Carolina. Southeners had no choice but to fight the aggressors, or hand over everything they had - including their families' lives. Slavery is wrong. It has been in existence since biblical days, when white men owned white men. I don't feel like the Europeans and Egyptians owe me anything because they owned whites many years ago. Get off the intitlement kick and get educated people! Seems like the more hand-outs you get, the more you expect. If anyone is socially disadvantaged, it's the hard working white people, who kill themselves trying to provide for their families. We pay for your "intitlements".

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