Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Soldier's Memory Defamed

"War drew us from our homeland
In the sunlit springtime of our youth.
Those who did not come back alive remain
in perpetual springtime -- forever young --
And a part of them is with us always."
-- Author Unknown
In Virginia, in 1861, young men were called upon to defend their state under the Constitution of the United States. They responded valiantly, as had their fathers and grandfathers before, during the War of 1812 and the American Revolution. The young men of Virginia lost the fight. Their army was vanquished; their men slaughtered and maimed. Those that returned home weary and defeated, were met with the devastation that the war had wrought. All that was left of value to them, were their families, their honor and their pride. In each county throughout the South, it became a cathartic event for the community to honor its loved ones and neighbors who had sacrificed so much for the South, with a monument on the courthouse lawn to those Sons of the South.

There were many great men amongst those Sons, such as James Gregory Hodges, a soldier from Portsmouth, Virginia. Yesterday, the Confederate Monument to him and his comrades in arms was defaced by persons unaware of the sacrilege such an act signifies. It disgraces both the vandals and the community, as it is evidence of an ignorance of history and of the failure to properly educate the current generations. A people who allow the degradation of memorials to their own dead, show to the world and to themselves the shameless kind of people they are.

JAMES GREGORY HODGES was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, on the 25th day of December, 1828. His father was General John Hodges, one of the most noted citizens of his area of Virginia for his character, intelligence, wealth, social position and public services. He served as a captain in the War of 1812 and in the Virginia General Assembly. His mother was from a renown Virginia family and the granddaughter of the illustrious Revolutionary War patriot, Colonel Benjamin Wynn.

Hodges received a grand education at the once famous Literary, Scientific and Military Academy of Portsmouth. This school had a large number of cadets, of whom James Gregory Hodges was one. He chose medicine as his profession and graduated at the University of Pennsylvania. He gained great success and eminence in his profession. During the yellow fever of 1855, he gave untiring and faithful devotion to the sick from the beginning to the end of the epidemic. He was elected mayor of the city of Portsmouth on April, 1856, and again in April 1857. In 1856, the Third regiment of Virginia volunteers was organized in Portsmouth, and Dr. James Gregory Hodges was elected its colonel.

On Saturday, the 20th day of April, 1861, when the regiment was ordered by the Governor of Virginia into the service of the State, it consisted of the following companies: Portsmouth Rifle Company, Capt. John C. Owens; Old Dominion Guard, Capt. Edward Kearn; the National Grays, Capt. John E. Deans; the Marion Rifles, Capt Johannis Watson; and the Dismal Swamp Rangers, Capt. James C. Choat.

The following is from an address given by his brother-in-law, Judge JAMES F. CROCKER, before Stonewall Camp, Confederate Veterans, Portsmouth, Virginia, June 18th, 1909.
"The twentieth of April, eighteen hundred and sixty-one-memorable day! On this day commenced in Virginia an unproclaimed war. The ordinance of secession had been passed on the 17th, day of April, 1861. The proclamation of President Lincoln calling on Virginia for her quota of military forces to wage war against her sister States of the South brought all Virginians of true loyalty together. War was the inevitable result of national and State action. Gov. Letcher had sent down Gen. William B. Talaferro to take charge of the organized forces of this section when called into the service of the State. At noon the United States authorities closed the doors of the navy yard and began the destruction of its buildings, its ships and stores. It was an act of war and was so regarded by all. At 2 P. M. the volunteer companies of the city were called into the service of the State. At that hour the long roll sounded summoning our local military to arms. All who survive remember the profound interest and emotion of that hour. It stifled all light feelings and gave to each brow a thoughtful aspect, and to each eye a depth of light which arises only when the heart is weighted with great moving concern. Men pressed in silence each others hands and spoke in tones subdued by the solemnity and intensity of their inexpressible feelings. All knew that when the long roll once sounded, it would thrill the land, and that it would not ease to be heard, day or night, until silenced in victory or defeat. Our military responded to the roll call with a unanimity and with a patriotic devotion unsurpassed."
"I have fought a good fight
I have finished my course
I have kept the faith."
-- Timothy 2:4:7

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