Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Pensacola's Confederate Monument (Part 5): "The Grandest Display"

On June 18, 1891, the day after the unveiling of the Confederate monument, the Pensacola News ran a front page article under the headline “The Dedication” and subheadings “Pensacola’s Confederate Monument Given to History” and “Grandest Display Ever Witnessed in This City.” The article that followed was pure prose, “A grand scene—grander by far, indeed, than pen might adequately picture.”

The first section of the article described the crowd that gathered for the unveiling:
Ten thousand people on Palafox hill.
A vast mass of surging humanity, surrounding a granite shaft on which stood a veiled figure.
On balconies, in windows, in some instances on the roofs, of adjacent dwellings were people whose eyes were bent upon that central spot containing the monument.
Far down into the different thoroughfares leading to that point the mass had boiled over, and struggling for position from which to gain a better view the constituents of that great concourse caused an ever rolling wave, created by human heads, that apparently swept toward the centre, only to recoil and sweep back again.
Slightly raised above the heads of the multitude near the monument was a stand which was also peopled. To the stand from the summit of the shaft two cords were leading.
Directly those close to the stand were seen to uncover and bow their heads. Those on the stand did the same. The act betokened a prayer.
The article continued:
The 17th of June, 1891, has gone into history. And for the people of Pensacola the date shall be an ever memorable one—the most glorious day that old city has ever known.
Yesterday she welcomed and entertained more than 3000 people; yesterday her old streets resounded to the marching of a regiment of the citizen soldiery of Florida; yesterday she gave to the world a lesson in patriotism that will stand for ages; yesterday she became first of all the cities of the South in paying monumental tribute to the memory of the Confederacy’s dead president—Jefferson Davis; yesterday she honored herself, as one of the orators of the occasion put it, in honoring her own dead and the dead generally of the old Confederacy.
The article also included a note of appreciation for the contributions that were made to the project: some of the names on the list of donors would be familiar to many Pensacolians today: S. A. Moreno, H. Baars, Lewis Bear, W. A. Blount, Geo Bonifay, F. C. Brent, W. D. Chipley, A. V. Clubbs, A. F. Mallory, A. E. Maxwell, J. N. Moreno, E. A. Perry, C. C. Yonge, Jr., for instance.

The final section of the article set the scene of the unveiling:
Wednesday, the 17th of June, 1891 was born in a cloud-burst. The rain came down in torrents, and the outlook was indeed a gloomy one. Fears were entertained that the weather would not clear in time for the observance in full of the programme arranged, and the doubts were by no means dispelled when at noon the wind shifted and a break to the north and west became visible.
But Nature’s proposition for a truce was in good faith, and, though the sky was overcast throughout the afternoon, not another drop fell, and the exercises were conducted without let or hindrance.
The rain had the effect of laying the dust, which would have proven very disagreeable, and much less preferable than the mud which succeeded it. The atmosphere also was cooled by the showers, and rendered more bearable by the thousands who came out to see the parade and witness the ceremony.
The parade included notable names such as Master of Ceremonies W. D. Chipley and assistant marshal F. R. Goulding. Governor Fleming was in the first division as were the Ladies of the Confederate Monument Association and the President of the city and the board of commissioners. The second division was led by assistant marshal D. G. Brent and an array of military rifle squads and guards from around the state. The third division consisted of young ladies representing the 15 Southern states, the Grand Army of the Republic (a Union military fraternal organization), and the Sons of Veterans. The fourth division was led by assistant marshal R. M. McDavid and consisted of local fraternal organizations: Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Knights of Honor, and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, and musicians. The fifth division was led by assistant marshal S. A. Moreno and the fire department.

Next: Part 6: "Voices of the Unveiling"