The Confederate Monument

In 1864, Union General McCook’s cavalry troops captured around 400 Confederates in Fayetteville, burned wagons, and slaughtered over 800 mules. Confederate General Joseph Wheeler led his own cavalry to free the prisoners at the Battle of Brown's Mill. A Confederate monument recognizing the Confederate soldiers who fought for the South was erected on April 26, 1934 and still stands on the Fayetteville courthouse lawn.

As a child I never knew what the monument stood for and I thought someone might be buried there. I had a close encounter with it in the early 1940’s.

My father was in the army and at the time was overseas. Mother worked as a telephone operator in the telephone office located in a house where the east wing of the Fayetteville Methodist Church stands today.

On this particular day Mother was working the afternoon shift which concluded around 9 o’clock in the evening. Since she would be so late getting home, I was with her at the telephone office. It had been raining all evening.

We had a 1934 or 35 Chevrolet. Often in wet weather it would not crank and we would have to push it off. We always parked it at home facing down hill so we could start it in rainy weather.

When we left the office to go home that night the car would not start. Mother went back in and called for help. The only place she could find help was at the Gulf Station located on the corner of Railroad Street and Highway 54. One of the young Graves boys came in an automobile to push us off. It was still raining cats and dogs.

He stationed his automobile behind Mother’s car and started pushing. Being a young boy, he decided to have some fun with us and we went racing down Highway 54 toward the courthouse at a high speed. There was a dim street light at the corner of Highway 54 and 85 where we were to turn south. Highway 85 was not paved at that time and the rain made it difficult to see. Mother, excited by the speed and having difficulty seeing, turned too quickly and we landed next to the Confederate Monument on the courthouse square. The wheels were mired up to the hub caps. The boy apologized and Mother dismissed him with a few angry words.

Fortunately for us, Seawright’s Drugstore was still open so we walked over there to get help. The drugstore was also the bus station for one of the bus lines (Trailways, I believe). The bus driver agreed to use the bus to pull us out. There were no cars on the roads so he drove the bus perpendicular to Highway 54 with the back of the bus facing the courthouse. With a large chain connected to the rear axle of our car, he pulled it out on the road. In spite of Mother’s insistence he would not accept any pay.

Monuments are meant to honor special events and special people in our history. The Confederate Monument on the courthouse square will always remind me of that kind bus driver who pulled our car out of the muck that rainy night in Fayetteville.