HISTORICAL FACT:

Benjamin Jones was a surgeon in the
Revolutionary War and was said to be over 7 feet tall.
The area of Jones Creek was named for him.

CONFEDERATE VETERANS

- - Article courtesy of Martinsville Bulletin - May 29, 2012

Remembering Confederate veterans is important, retired Air Force Col. Greg Eanes told about 30 people who gathered Saturday at Oakwood Cemetery for a Confederate Memorial Day Service.

As part of the ceremony, the names of the one Union and 89 Confederate Civil War veterans buried in the Martinsville cemetery were called.

"It is fitting that we remember and honor the 89 Confederate soldiers here, who, as veterans in the post-war period, turned their proverbial swords into the ploughshares to help rebuild Martinsville and Henry County through hard work, determination and a commitment to succeed," Eanes said. "The examples many set in civilian life are as worthy of emulation as the example they set in military life. Their example, in war and peace, is part of our Confederate legacy."

Those buried at Oakwood include three former mayors, Eanes said of Dr. James Moss Smith, the first mayor of Martinsville and a surgeon in the Civil War; Col. Charles Benjamin Bryant, a mayor who also served as a quartermaster in Martinsville and later was the Circuit Court clerk in Henry County; and John Robert Brown, who also was a banker and served both in Congress and the Virginia House of Delegates, according to Eanes' speech.

Bryant and Brown served in the 24th Virginia Infantry, Eanes said.

Eanes called several other veterans by name, including Lt. Col. Peter Hairston, who sought official authorization to raise a regiment of African-American troops from Henry County.

"Even without that authorization, local African Americans were serving the Confederacy," Eanes said. "On this Memorial Day, it is fitting we should remember them. Critics who dismiss the black Confederate's service are wholly ignorant of military affairs," he said, and named four of the at least eight area African Americans to serve, including Abe Blakey, Joe Burnett, George W. Sheffield and Carter Linthicum.

"These men are also part of our Confederate legacy. All but lost to history, it is appropriate that the Confederate heritage community has taken the lead in remembering their dreams," Eanes said.

"What we today must remind the general public is that the Confederate soldier is an American soldier, so recognized by the Congress of the United States," Eanes said. "The Confederate soldier is on equal footing with, and is as worthy and as deserving of the honors we bestow on those who served in the American Revolution, World War II or other conflicts."

The Confederate veteran's contribution also "is part of our American legacy. May it always be cherished and protected," said Eanes, who retired last year with more than 34 years in active and reserve service.

As an intelligence officer, he participated in five overseas expeditionary campaigns, including the Iranian Hostage Crisis, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, two tours in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and one tour in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.

While deployed in combat zones abroad, Eanes said, he carried a small Confederate battle flag next to his heart in memory of his Confederate great-great-grandfathers, Pvt. John Daniel Kirby, Company C, 8th Virginia Calvary; and Pvt. James Eanes, Company K, 21st Virginia Calvary. Both men escaped from Appomattox and never surrendered. Kirby later was awarded the Southern Cross of Honor by the Wytheville Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Following Eanes' remarks, a wreath was laid on the grave of Martinsville's unknown Confederate soldier, followed by a gun salute by the Stuart-Hairston Camp Sons of Confederate Veterans Honor Guard.

The event was officiated by Jean Rood, president of the Mildred Lee Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

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