CHATSWORTH — Relating today to life in the South 150 years ago is difficult, retired Northwest Whitfield High School history teacher Elizabeth Hoole McArthur admitted to about 25 people gathered for a Confederate Memorial Service in Chatsworth Saturday morning.
“Our world is vastly different,” she said.
Yet it’s that world, and those who suffered and died for a variety of reasons in the Confederate cause are worthy of being respectfully remembered, she said. McArthur spoke at a Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 938 service in Chatsworth in honor of Confederate Memorial Day, which is April 26 in Georgia.
“The average Confederate soldier was 26 years old, about 5 feet eight inches and weighed 143 pounds,” she said. “Most had been farmers before the war, not professional soldiers. Most had served in state militias — the forerunner of our National Guard — a service that was required of all able-bodied eligible young men. They were citizen-soldiers, and many went to war wearing homemade uniforms, carrying their own rifles, and if, officers or in the cavalry, riding their own horses.”
Reasons why these men enlisted varied widely, she said.
“Some believed in states’ rights, some championed Southern independence,” she said. “Some believed in slavery, or at least saw a prosperous Southern economy dependent upon it. Some were religious, and equated duty to God with duty to the Confederacy. Some disagreed with all of these, or had no opinion on them at all, but joined anyway.”
Others, she said, joined to make their families proud, for patriotism and because of the “bond of brotherhood.”
“They did not want their fallen comrades to have died in vain,” McArthur said, “nor could they fail those with whom they still fought shoulder to shoulder, their ‘brothers in arms.’”
McArthur said it’s unknown exactly how many people fought in the Confederate military, but it’s estimated 125,000 Georgians served, which was 26 percent of the total at the time. More than 30,000 Georgians lost their lives, she said, and countless others suffered from war wounds, disease, psychological trauma, hunger, thirst and poverty.
McArthur said her great-great-grandfather Lt. Col. Axalla J. Hoole of the 8th South Carolina Infantry was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga.
Sons of Confederate Veterans member Jim Luffman said the organization hosts a memorial day service every year.
“We should remember our ancestors,” he said. “They fought for what they believed in.”