Daivd O. Dodd Chapter 212, United Daughters of the Confederacy, held its recent chapter meeting in the home of Lela Murray of Pine Bluff.
There were 12 members and one guest in attendance. Attending from Arkansas County were: Glennda Fread, Jean Pollard, Dorothy Wilks and Jerrie Townsend. Attending from Jefferson County were: Denise Gray, Lela Murray, DeeLois Lawrence, Sandy Poore, MarJo Dill, Rebecca Phillips, Susan Railsback and Sharon Wyatt. Earle Phillips was a guest.
Chapter president Fread presided. Dill, chaplain, opened the meeting with prayer and Fread led the ritual.
Wyatt, secretary/treasurer, read the minutes from the February meeting, which were approved. She then gave the treasurer’s report.
President Fread asked for donations to the White Sulphur Springs Cemetery upkeep fund. The David O. Dodd Chapter has owned the cemetery since 1912 and continues to maintain the grounds with help from local supporters. Railsback reported a request from the Colonial Dames 17th Century to place a historical marker at the cemetery.
President Fread reminded the members of the Division Spring Board meeting that was to be held March 23 in Little Rock and Sunday, April 28 will be the annual memorial service held at the UDC Monument in Bellwood Cemetery.
Murray presented the program, “St. Patrick’s Day, The Irish and the Civil War.”
In 1903 St. Patrick’s Day became an official public holiday in Ireland. In the United States, St. Patrick’s Day is not a legal holiday, but it is celebrated with parades, displaying and wearing the color green and religious services. Little is known of the man, St. Patrick, though it is known that he was born in Roman Britain, in the fourth century, into a wealthy family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. At age 16, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken captive to Ireland as a slave. According to his confession, he was told by God in a dream to flee captivity to the coast, where he would board a ship and return to Britain, which he did. Upon arriving in Britain, he quickly joined the church and studied to be a priest. In the year 432, he again said he had received a call to return to Ireland. By this time he was a bishop. After nearly 30 years of evangelism he died on March 17, 461 and according to tradition he was buried at Downpatrick in Ireland. Patrick endured as the principal champion of Irish Christianity and is held in esteem in the Irish Church.
There is no other ethnic group so closely identified with the Civil War years and the immediate aftermath of the war as the Irish Americans. Of those Irish who came over much later than the founding generations, 150,000 of them joined the Union army. Unfortunately, statistics for the Confederacy are sketchy at best, still one has but to listen to the Southern accent and listen to the sorts of tunes Southern soldiers loved to sing to realize that a great deal of the South was settled by Irish immigrants.
The Irish who served the Confederate side were mostly native born, whereas in the North many Irish soldiers were actual immigrants. The majority of soldiers who fought for the Confederacy had ancestors from Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland. The Irish Brigade was the best known of any brigade organization and had a reputation for dash and gallantry. It had remarkable precision under fire, never failing promptness on every field and long continuous service which made it a name in history of the war.
Murray ended her program with facts about her Irish ancestor, Charles Hays, who was a Confederate soldier. After the war, Hays’ life was somewhat a paradox. He was a former Confederate soldier who shocked his fellow southerners by embracing the Republican Party and rights of freedmen. He became known as the “Black Belt Scalawag.” The black belt was the area of farmland which was known for the rich, black soil so important for growing cotton. A scalawag was a derisive term applied to white southerners who favored the policies of the Republican party and Reconstruction. He served in the Alabama State Senate and four terms in the House of Representatives as a Republican. He put his life at risk over his beliefs.
Murray served dessert and coffee and the meeting adjourned.