History day events announced for Old Soldiers Reunion; SCV rescinds attending NAACP meeting
Two new events will be featured for the first time in the 127-year history of Old Soldiers Reunion. On Aug. 13, event-goers will have the opportunity to learn about the racial diversity of the Confederate army and will also have the chance to view a replica of the fabled submarine CSS H. L. Hunley, according to a press conference held on Wednesday.
Inside the 1924 Courthouse in Newton, a program at 9 a.m. and again at 1 p.m. will feature prominent speakers spotlighting ancestors who represented African-Americans, Cherokee Indians and Caucasian-Americans (Irish, French, Jewish, German, Italian and Scottish) who made up the Confederate military forces.
The day-long event, free and open to the public, is being sponsored by the Captain C. F. Connor Camp #849 Sons of Confederate Veterans, with members from throughout Catawba County. Mark Nixon, camp commander, announced plans for what his organization hopes will become an annual program aimed at "eliminating the myths of the War for Southern Independence" of 1861-65.
"We are going to have an interesting and informative day for all local citizens to enjoy and will even have food vendors on First Street all day so families can take in both the program in courthouse auditorium and the unique exhibits and demonstrations around The Square," he added.
Outside events will center on the Hunley exhibit, for which the SCV members raised several thousand dollars to secure. The touring exact replica of the pioneer submarine-now still undergoing restoration and based at Simpsonville, SC-is created with a cutaway side of the underwater vessel so that viewers can see the size and setup of the legendary craft.
The Hunley, he explained, was the first submarine to sink a warship when on February 17, 1864, it sank the 1,240-ton United States Navy sloop the USS Housatonic in the Atlantic. Soon afterward- the Hunley sank, taking to a watery grave her crew of eight men. Underscoring the dangers of undersea warfare, the 70-foot-long Hunley lost 21 crewmen in three sinking's during its short career.
The vessel's remains were salvaged some years ago.
Other exhibits include a Confederate cannon, to be set near the Union cannon that is a permanent part of the courthouse grounds since the early 20th" century, and SCV members of the SCVMC (Sons of Confederate Veterans Mechanized Cavalry) will demonstrate loading and cleaning the Southern cannon.
Nixon said they will also tell about the local incident in 1926 when some Newton high school youths loaded the cannon "monument" with twigs, rocks and black powder and one of the stack of cannonballs that used to be positioned next to it. When the boys fired the old weapon one night, it blew out the front display windows of the H & W pharmacy across the street from its site.
Also on site will be SCV members of Company C, 28"' Regiment of the South Fork Farmers, re enacting local men enlisting in the Confederate States of America army in Newton in August 1861. Of the company, 161 men of the unit including two African-Americans left here for war The modem-day reenactors, most of whom are descendants of the men from Catawba County, will tell visitors to their exhibit about the unit's role in major battles in Virginia.
Another exhibit will feature John Eller of Matthews, an SCV member who will tell visitors about the various flags he will have on display the 88th New York Infantry "Irish Brigade," Nixon said, since representation of the Union troops of the war is part of the history "lessons" for the event. The reenactors are from all over North Carolina.
The indoor program will focus on racial diversity within the Confederate military with speakers including Teresa Roane, former archivist for the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, VA and currently archivist for the General (national) Headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Richmond. She will talk about African-American soldiers of the Confederacy.
Also presenting a talk, "Why the Southern People Need to Unite," will be an African-American historian-like Roane: H. K. Edgerton, former president of the Asheville chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), now on the board of the Southern Legal Resource Center.
Jason Cook. of Valdese, an SCV member in the Burke County camp and a descendant of Feather, leading chief of the NC Cherokee Indian-Cherokee Nation-in the 1860s war. Cook, who will appear in full Cherokee uniform, has a tribal name, Big Bear, and will detail his ancestor's role in the war.
Ronnie Roach of Mebane, chief of staff of the NC SCV camps and commander of the organization's Army of Northern Virginia (including the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia), will talk about the many flags of the Confederacy.
Creighton Lovelace of Marion, pastor of Danielstown Baptist Church in McDowell County, will speak on the Christian influences in the Confederacy. The program will begin with an invocation by the Rev. Dr. Dwayne Tutt of Statesville, professor of economics at Livingstone College in Salisbury.
Nixon, who said the activities are planned to conclude at 5 p.m. on August 13, stated, "No taxpayer money goes into the funding of this event" and added that county government officials gave permission for the use of the Court Square grounds and courtroom.
The itinerary for history day was not the only announcement made during Wednesday’s press conference.
Nixon also addressed an invitation to the August meeting of the Catawba County chapter of the NAACP – an invitation he initially accepted last week.
“After having discussions with H.K. Edgerton, former NAACP President and member of the Southern Legal Resource Center, I would like to rescind attending the NAACP meeting,” Nixon said during the press conference.
“(The Catawba County chapter of the NAACP) have refused to come to History Saturday to learn true history,” Nixon added. “We have already met you and your members three times in the past year with no results. I would also like to add what your organization is doing is violating our first amendment rights and amounts to racial discrimination, which could lead to actual legal actions especially if any events for Soldier's Reunion are disrupted by your members.”