The Monuments to John Pelham
There are thirteen monuments to John Pelham throughout the South. Most of them are in Virginia and Alabama, but two are in Maryland. Some are highway markers, and a few are quite impressive. What follows is a description and history of each monument, broken down by state and location.
Anniston - 2 monuments:
The first is located on Quintard Avenue and is a stone obelisk. At the bottom it reads, in capital letters, "PELHAM. " Above that it reads:
One side of the monument paraphrases rather liberally General Stuart's orders announcing the death of Pelham: 'The noble, the chivalric Pelham is no more. How much he was beloved, appreciated and admired, let the tears of agony we have shed and the gloom of mourning throughout every command bear witness. His loss to the country is irreparable. --J.E.B. Stuart, Maj. General."
Behind this project to erect the monument was Dr. Clarence J. Owens, president of the Anniston College for Young ladies and Commander of the 5th Brigade, U. S. C. V. (United Sons of Confederate Veterans). The progress in raising the funds can be followed in the pages of the Confederate Veteran. In the April, 1905 issue we are told that, 'For the benefit of the fund for this monument the Camp has for sale gavels made from the wood of the room in which Pelham was born. The price is $2.50, and a certificate is furnished guaranteeing that the gavel is made as claimed."
The ploy must have worked for the monument was unveiled on June 3, 1905. (We did see one of the gavels, unmarked, at the Forney Museum in Jacksonville during our 1984 convention.)
The city of Anniston maintains the monument, which is spotlighted at night.
The second monument in Anniston is a highway marker which reads:
MAJOR JOHN PELHAM
This monument was erected by the Alabama Historical Association, and is located on Highway 431. Its paint is badly chipped, but it is still readable.
Jacksonville - 3 monuments:
As you enter the town of Jacksonville on Highway 21 (which becomes "Pelham Road" in Jacksonville), you see this highway marker:
MAJ. JOHN PELHAM
Pelham would blush at being called the commander of the artillery of the Army of Northern Virginia, but the marker is at a prominent place in town. Unfortunately, in 1984 it was about ready to fall off its post. The Alabama Historical Association erected the marker.
At the marker, make a right turn on James Street which ends at the Jacksonville City Cemetery. Pelham is buried here with his parents, his brother Sam, and some members of the McGehee family. His monument is quite prominent, right up against the wall of the cemetery. This is a marble monunent, with a statue of Pelham on top. It reads:
MAJ. JOHN PELHAM
The left side reads: "Erected by the General John H. Forney Chapter U.D.C. Jacksonville, Alabama 1905." One side has the crossed swords of cavalry , and the other reads: 'How shall we rank thee upon glory's page, Thou more than soldier. " At the base of the monument, in capital letters, is "PELHAM." Pelham's hat is upturned, with crossed cannon insignia on it, he carries a sword and field glasses, and leans against an oak. This was the first project of the General John H. Forney Chapter, U.D.C., which is still active. Unfortunately, this monunent is in bad condition. A black fungus is on it, and the eyes and hat have been chipped away, probably by vandals.
A monument off of a side road off of Highway 431 marks the actual site of Pelham's birth. It is a bronze plaque on a boulder, which reads:
THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE GALLANT PELHAM
A plaque giving details about Pelham's funeral service once was on the building of the Bapitst Church, but since that church was razed, it now belongs to the Forney Chapter, U.D.C.
Antietam - 2 monuments:
The first monument is U.S. Route 40, a series of highway markers depicting the events leading up to the Battle of Antietam. The marker is T. P. 3 in the series, and the part referring to Pelham reads: "Early on the morning of the 14th [of September, 1862] Col. T. L. Rosser, with the 5th Virginia Cavalry, and Pelham's Battery occupied Fox's Gap one mile south of this, traversed by the old Sharpsburg Road."
The second marker used to be on the battlefield of Antietam, not far from
Nicodemus Heights. The marker had a drawing of an officer on horseback pointing.
The marker read: "NICODEMUS HEIGHTS --
Strategically placed on the far, rounded hill , Jeb Stuart's Horse Artillery guarded the Confederate left and severely harrassed the attacking Union forces with flanking fire." This monument has been removed, with no explanation, by the National Park Service, which administers the battlefield.
Culpeper - 1 monument:
This marker is on the site of the Shackelford home, on the corner of Main and Cameron Streets. It reads:
THE GALlANT PELHAM