As Silent Sam, a monument dedicated to the students of UNC who defended Dixie in the War of 1861, went down to the howls of the raging mob, another monument stood watchful many hundreds of miles away. This is the statue of Thomas Jefferson Roberts, whose likeness is used in representing the countless Southern soldiers who gave themselves to the great cause of Southern independence. Erected on a handsome hill overlooking Spanish Fort, Alabama, the monument serves as a reminder and shrine to the men who died for Southern honour both at Spanish Fort and further abroad.
Fort McDermott itself is named for 2nd Lt Edward J. McDermett of the CSN, a man who was killed whilst policing Louisiana for contraband. As part of the larger Spanish Fort defensive works, Ft McDermett was the highest point along the two-mile line. Men from Arkansas, Louisiana, and Georgia, comprising about 200 in number, held off two corps of the Union Army of the West Mississippi for nearly 13 days.
Notably, the Ft McDermett base holds an inscription of Fr Ryan’s poem C.S.A., quoted in part:
But their memories e’er shall remain for us,
And their names, bright names, without stain for us,–
The glory they won shall not wane for us,
In legend and lay
Our heroes in gray
Shall forever live over again for us.
Silent Sam and Thomas J. Roberts may have served alongside one another, lifting a musket in the same great cause, giving their all to defend their shared homeland. Monuments, such as that at Ft McDermett, remind us of their sacrifice and struggle, and should be supported at every opportunity. Though these veterans are now silent in death, let we, their descendants, not have the same silence in life.