Monday, November 29, 2004

A contingent of local Masons, history buffs, Civil War re-enactors and descendents of men who fought during the War Between the States gathered at Dyersburg’s Old City Cemetery Saturday afternoon for the commemoration of a monument to Dyer County’s Confederate war dead.

Heavy rains in the morning dwindled down to a steady drizzle as the block of 8-foot tall granite was dedicated in a Masonic ritual. A regional re-enactment artillery unit offered a salute to the Southern soldiers buried in the city’s oldest cemetery who gave their lives during the conflict.

Earl Willoughby Jr., historian for the local Sons of Confederate Veterans group, the Col. William A. Dawson camp No. 1821, gave the address. He explained that asterisks beside many of the 58 names on the monument were for Confederate soldiers whose markers had not survived the test of time.

"This monument is here so they will be remembered," Willoughby said. "This was Dyer County’s first true band of brothers."

The dedication took place at Brig. Gen Otho French Strahl’s grave, which is marked by a 32-pounder cannon that was originally located at Confederate Forts Randolph and Pillow. It ranks as one of Dyer County’s most historic objects. The new monument stands a few feet to the south of that gravesite.

Strahl was a Dyersburg attorney who volunteered when Tennessee left the Union and was named captain of the "Dyer Guards." He was killed at the Battle of Franklin in November 1864.

According to a spokesman for the SCV this is the third and final phase of the restoration of Strahl’s gravesite, a project that began four years ago with the installation of a flagpole where a Confederate flag is now permanently flown. On Dec. 1, 2001, there was a dedication of a $6,000 granite base for the historic cannon, which replaced a crumbling brick foundation.

A reception followed at the Hess Masonic Lodge where Strahl was a member.

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