Graffiti defaces monument to Civil War battle, veterans

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

"Rebels rule." Or so states the graffiti on the Battle of Marshall historical marker in Indian Foothills Park. The marker was vandalized by someone who felt it necessary to scratch out the image of Union Brig. Gen. Egbert B. Brown and scrawl "rebels rule" above the image of Confederate Col. Joseph O. Shelby.

It can be inferred from the act that the perpetrators believes themselves to be rebels. They have flown in face of authority in an act of civil defiance.

Regardless of a person's race or creed and despite what one might think about the Confederate cause, most would agree that the average "Johnny Reb" was a not a villain. He was a man of resolution fighting for something he believed in - much like the patriots of the American Revolution. He, and his Union counterparts, faced unthinkable hardships defending ideals he held dear.

Our park vandals do no pride to Civil War veterans in their act. The men who bled the fields red at Shiloh, Bull Run and Gettysburg are not honored by this cowardly defacement.

Sam R. Watkins served throughout the Civil War in the First Tennessee Infantry and documented his experiences in "'Co. Aytch': A Side Show of the Big Show."

In the book he wrote "We march on. The scene of a few days ago comes unhidden to my mind. Tramp, tramp, tramp, the soldiers are marching. Where are many of my old friends and comrades, whose names were so familiar at every roll call, and whose familiar 'Here' is no more? They lie yonder at Perryville, unburied, on the field of battle. They lie where they fell. More than three hundred and fifty members of my regiment, the First Tennessee, numbered among the killed and wounded; one hundred and eighty-five slain on the field of battle. Who are they? Even then I had to try to think up the names of all the slain of Company H alone. Their spirits seemed to be with us on the march, but we know that their souls are with their God. Their bones, today, no doubt, bleach upon the battlefield. They left their homes, families and loved ones a little more than one short twelve months ago, dressed in their gray uniforms, amid the applause and cheering farewells of those same friends. They lie yonder; no friendly hands ever closed their eyes in death; no kind, gentle and loving mother was there to shed a tear over and say farewell to her darling boy; no sister's gentle touch ever wiped the death damp from off their dying brows. Noble boys; brave boys! They willingly gave their lives to their country's cause. Their bodies and bones are mangled and torn by the rude missiles of war. They sleep the sleep of the brave. They have given their all to their country. We miss them from our ranks. There are no more hard marches and scant rations for them. They have accomplished all that could be required of them."

That is a tribute to the men of the Confederacy; not "rebels rule."