Confederate monument should remain
Removing the Confederate monument will not eradicate Longwood’s place in Civil War history. Confederate families found Farmville Female College a safe place to send their daughters, but, since one of the many Confederate hospitals was in Farmville, the students were not entirely removed from the war. Indeed they made bandages and other things for the hospital.
Late in the evening of April 6, 1865, when Lee’s retreating army was passing through Farmville, Lt. Col. Charles Scott Venable (1827-1900), aide to Gen. Robert E. Lee (1807-1870), offered his boss the use of Longwood, where he was born and his widowed mother still resided. Not long after they set up their tents on the lawn, a scout came riding up with the news that Gen. Grant was right behind him and would be in Farmville by 7 a.m. Lee and his staff stayed the night, but arose early and were all headed west by first light. This turned out to be Lee’s penultimate night under canvas during the Civil War.
The next night the girls of Farmville Female College huddled in fear as the 6th Corps of the Army of the Potomac filed past the Randolph House, honoring Gen. Grant with the now famous “Torchlight Parade.” After the surrender at Appomattox, the victorious Yankees, on orders from Gen. Grant, provided free escorts for the girls so that they could return to their homes from the transportation hub in Petersburg.
According to the eyewitness account of Col. T. L. Broun, of Charleston, W.Va., in June of 1865, while Gen. Lee was attending services at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, “a tall, well dressed negro man” advanced to the front of the church and knelt to receive Holy Communion. A stunned silence erupted as Gen. Lee arose, advanced to the front of the church and knelt beside him. The silence was broken when both men received communion.
Gen. Joseph E. Johnston (1807-1891) was born at Longwood Estate. He graduated with Lee at West Point in 1829 and they were among the first five men promoted to full general by Jefferson Davis (1808-1889). After President Ulysses Simpson Grant (1822-1885) died in New York, four Civil War generals—two from each side-participated in his funeral as pallbearers. Johnston was one of the two Confederates. Grant’s funeral is still the largest ever-held in one place in North America, with one-and-a-half million in attendance, including 60,000 Civil War veterans who marched in the seven-mile long funeral procession.
Benjamin Mathews Cox (1848-1924) was one of the Confederate veterans who attended the dedication of the Confederate Monument on October 11, 1900. Although he was only 13 when the Civil War began, Cox served in the Fayette Artillery of Richmond, which participated in every major battle in the east, including Saylor’s Creek. During Reconstruction he moved from Buckingham to Farmville and, when he turned 21, was appointed sheriff of Prince Edward (1869-1870) by the military authorities. On November 12, 1875, he was appointed postmaster of Farmville, a post he held for nine years. From there, he became clerk of the State Female Normal School and was eventually elevated to business manager, successor to another Confederate veteran, B.S. Hooper (1835- 1898).
If all of the people mentioned above were still alive, they would vote to leave the Confederate Monument be, as do I.