AIKEN, S.C. – (WJBF) – Across the country some groups are demanding confederate monuments come down. But in Aiken, one just went up.
Ask any member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans about February of 1865 and you are in for an oral history treat. Each year the Civil War’s Battle of Aiken is re-enacted to remember those valiant, brave soldiers who fought during that time. But come next year you will see something a little different.
NewsChannel 6 spoke with Danny Francis, who serves as Commander of the Brigadier General Barnard E. Bee Camp 1575 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He told us, “If you ignore history you’re doomed to repeat it.”
Instead of tearing down the story of confederate strength, Francis said we should build it up. So when you come into the Battle of Aiken next time the entrance, just beyond the ticket booth, will tell that story.
“We’d like to honor our ancestors. They were good men,” he said.
The new Battle of Aiken Confederate Monument honors those men and the immortal spirit of the Confederate Cause. The monument stands 7 ft. tall and weighs 7,000 lbs with a $5,000 price tag. Even though monuments such as the new Battle of Aiken one caused protests and rallies across the country, the Sons of Confederate Veterans spent ten years trying to erect their own monument of thanks.
“Sherman’s Army wanted to burn Aiken, the Graniteville Mills, Graniteville and Augusta, Georgia. And Augusta, Georgia was a huge medical complex,” Francis told us. “General Wheeler actually stopped Sherman’s march. Aiken and Augusta did not burn as a result.”
He added two months after the Battle of Aiken General Robert E. Lee surrendered.
“Since the two cities did not burn our economies were left in tact to grow. If it wasn’t for the Battle of Aiken things like the Masters Golf Tournament, the Triple Crown, the Miracle Mile in Augusta, all that wouldn’t be here today. It would just be another little town struggling to survive,” he said linking the present economic success to the work of the confederates of that time.
The Battle of Aiken Confederate Monument will be unveiled this Saturday at 10:00 a.m. at the Battle of Aiken park.