Days Gone By - stories from the past

Alabama soldier rests on Secession Hill in Abbeville, South Carolina [video, music & photographs]

There is an unknown Confederate soldier from Alabama buried on Secession Hill. According to the South Carolina League of the South “The grave of an unknown Alabama soldier was located on the property and marked. This soldier had died on a train passing through Abbeville, his remains removed and buried on Secession Hill.”

The lyrics to this song written by Alan Peeler were inspired after Mr. Peeler visited the unknown Alabama soldier in Abbeville. It was sung and recorded by Deborah Brinson and is number six on her album, Let Dixie Remember

The Lyrics to the song tell his story:
While on a train in South Carolina I Stared out of the window
As the slow cold rain was coming down
And I’m trying to get home, the home Left so long ago
But I’m here, near Abbeville, near Abbeville town
It’s a Long, long way, to Alabama

They told me the war, the war was over. My soldier life was through,
My soldier life was through, and they said,
“Go home confederate soldier, for you have nothing left to prove
Go home confederate soldier, for you have nothing left to prove
It’s a long, long way to Alabama

Almost four years ago, I left my home
To stand for what was right, with a rifle in my hand, I fought
For my land against all the federal might
I fought for my land, against all the federal might
It’s a long, long way to Alabama

I joined the army, with my brother John
Two cousins and my neighbor Tom, my brother and cousins, and neighbor Tom
John died at Chickamauga, my cousins of them I don’t know
Tom died in Richmond, o’er two and half years ago
It’s a long, long way to Alabama

For the last two days, a fever’s been in my head
Sleep has not come, as on this train I make my bed, I wonder,
Will I ever see my home, my father and my mother dear?
Or if on this train ‘n tears the voice of my Savior I’ll hear?
It’s a long, long way to Alabama

I close my eyes now, for I feel I must sleep
I’ll pull my coat close as the train pulls to a creep, and they say,
“We’re in Abbeville” a small South Carolina town
But I dream of my old home, so far away in Alabam
But I dream of my old home, so far away in Alabam
It’s a long, long way to Alabama

3000 people gathered on Secession Hill

The property referred to in the quote is a 1.9-acre tract where Secession Hill was located. Secession Hill is named for the event of November 22, 1860, which took place there. On that date, over 3000 people gathered to hear what have become known as the secession speeches. Abbeville, South Carolina is given credit for holding the first of these meetings in front of the court-house. A speakers stand was set up three blocks away near the old town magazine.SecessionHillSign south carolina

Property fell into private hands

“Over the next one hundred and forty-four years, Secession Hill fell to private hands. A house of about 2000 square feet was built circa 1894 and a smaller house built later. The area was over-run with vines, underbrush, and thousands of glass bottles and cans littered the area. Secession Hill was simply a piece of forgotten property and had little or no historical significance to Abbeville. In fact, most residents of the area didn’t really know where Secession Hill was located in the town.”i

“In 2001, Robert Hayes moved to Abbeville and opened a shop called the “Southern Patriot Shop.” One day in November of 2001, he overheard a conversation between two men in his shop in which one man said he owned the tract of land known as Secession Hill. This man was Jack Mattison of Columbia. Mr. Hayes immediately began discussion and negotiation to purchase that land from Mr. Mattison. The property had been zoned for multi-housing by the city of Abbeville and Mr. Hayes and others feared that it could fall into the hands of a developer and be gone forever.”ii

Alabama unknown soldier’s grave found

“In April of 2004, Mr. Hayes and the Southern Cultural Centre purchased the 1.9-acre tract and began a journey of clearing and preparing the property for Secession Memorial Park. Thousands of man-hours went into the clearing of the two houses, vines, bottles, trees, debris and most of that work was done by Mr. Hayes himself.”iii

Proposed Park on Secession Hill Map Below

SecessionHillMap

“The grave of an unknown Alabama soldier was located on the property and marked. This soldier had died on a train passing through Abbeville, his remains removed and buried on Secession Hill. In addition, “Secession Rock” which holds a bronze marker, placed there by the United Daughters of the Confederacy circa 1950, was moved across the line from the remaining private property and placed at the sight of the platform where the speeches were given. No specific date is on the plaque which simply reads “This stone marks the spot where the first secession speeches were made.” A beautiful flag pole also adorns the grounds of the Memorial Park.”iv

Secession Rock in Abbeville

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Thanks to the song written by Alan Peeler and the Music by Deborah Brenson as well as Robert Hayes diligence in saving Secession Hill, the sacrifice of this Alabama unknown soldier in South Carolina has been remembered. The soundtrack is number six on Deborah (Brinson) Wilkie’s  album, Let Dixie Remember  recorded in 2006.

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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