Thursday, October 16, 2014
Virginia Flaggers: Rededication of the LEE Tree, Rainelle, West Virginia
In 1934, the Traveller's District Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, along with Greenbrier Co. and state agencies, placed a huge ironstone rock under the Lee Tree on Big Sewell Mountain, near Rainelle, WV. The rock has a bronze plaque commemorating the site where R.E Lee pitched his headquarters tent beneath a large Maple tree in 1861. This is also the site where Lee first saw Traveller, and where he first rode his famous war horse. A wrought iron fence was erected around the site.
In 1937, after the Maple Tree died, a second tree was planted.
Over the years, the concrete posts of the fencing had crumbled, and the fence had deteriorated badly and the second tree had died. In 2013, Allen K. Stone, who portrays General Lee, approached the Flat Top Copperheads SCV Camp 1694 and suggested they take on the restoration of the monument as a project. The Traveeller District UDC supplied the funding and the Flat Top Copperheads provided the labor to replant the tree, replace the corner posts, and restore the fence. One of the camp members confided to me that they placed a time capsule at the base of one of the newly placed footings, (right rear if standing at the front of the memorial) with the hopes that others, who will continue the care of this sacred place, will discover it one day. He asked me to record it in this report, so that there would be a record for those who come behind us.
On Sunday, September 7th, 2014, a crowd of over 200 people gathered for a ceremony to rededicate the Lee Tree and the marker, 80 years after the original placing of the memorial. It was a cool, foggy day on the mountain, but the dampness did not deter the spirit of those who attended, including the keynote speaker, C. Kelly Barrow, SCV Commander-In-Chief.
It was a wonderful event, with beautiful music, moving rituals, musket and cannon salutes, and speakers who discussed the history of the monument, heritage defense, and local history. I was honored and surprised to be recognized with the "Commander's Award" from the Flat Top Copperheads, a beautiful "Loyal Ladies of the Confederacy" brooch, and given the privilege of firing the cannon, courtesy of the Giles Light Artillery.
I had the pleasure of seeing a very beautiful part of (occupied) western Virginia, and meeting and chatting with some of the nicest folks I've ever met, including some new friends from the Mechanized Cavalry, among many others. Special thanks to Terry McAllister of the PJ Thurmond SV Camp #2190 for the warm welcome and escort. It was great to meet so many new friends and have the chance to visit with old ones.
Kudos and special thanks and to Commander Blaine Hypes and the Flat Top Copperheads for their ongoing commitment and dedication to living the Charge…and God bless all the men and women of the SCV and UDC who worked hard to repair and restore the monument, and for their diligence in organizing and hosting such a successful re-dedication event.
On the way home, I stopped in Lewisburg, WV and visited the Confederate Cemetery there. The remains of 95 unknown Confederate soldiers from the Battle of Lewisburg, fought May 23, 1862, lie in this cross-shaped common grave. It has a vertical length 80 feet long and a cross arm of 40 feet long, with an overall width of 10 feet.
Yankee Colonel George Crook would not permit the southern sympathizers to bury their own dead, and thus they were originally laid out in the Old Stone Church and later placed in a trench along the south wall of the church without ceremony. It wasn't until after the war that the remains of the 95 Confederate dead were removed from the churchyard and interred in the cross-shaped mass grave.
LEST WE FORGET!