Two weeks ago, the Scribbler discussed Lancaster’s Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Penn Square. Today’s topic is the Confederate Monument in front of the old county courthouse in Lancaster, South Carolina. The two memorials have little in common besides displaying reverence for those who died for each side.
The Scribbler and Mrs. Scribbler stopped in Lancaster, South Carolina, last week on return from a Florida holiday. Residents pronounce “Lancaster”' the same in both red rose cities, but other resemblances are limited.
The two places did become “sister cities” in the 1980s when Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Mayor Art Morris visited Lancaster, South Carolina, to help celebrate its county bicentennial. Lancaster, Pennsylvania, residents also contributed to a Lancaster, South Carolina, relief fund following Hurricane Hugo.
But Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is considerably older (1729) than Lancaster County, South Carolina (1785). The county seat of Lancaster, South Carolina, contains fewer than 10,000 residents, compared with nearly 60,000 in our city. While Lancaster, Pennsylvania, has redeveloped a vibrant downtown in the 21st century, the downtown of Lancaster, South Carolina, has been bypassed and diminished.
Getting back to the Confederate monument. Modest compared with Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s, 43-foot-tall memorial featuring four soldiers and a “Genius of Liberty” statue dominating the downtown square, the Lancaster, South Carolina, memorial stands 30 feet high, topped by a single soldier.
While the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Monumental Association erected its memorial within a decade following the Civil War, the United Daughters of the Confederacy of Lancaster, South Carolina, didn’t dedicate theirs until 1909. That was well into the “Jim Crow” period during which many white Southerners treated blacks as if they were still enslaved.
Lancaster, South Carolina’s granite soldier represents Amos McManus, captain of the Lancaster Invincibles. McManus and other Irish and Scots-Irish names are not uncommon in Lancaster, South Carolina. Its first settlers were Scots-Irish descendants of early residents of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
These people migrated down the Great Wagon Road (which runs through Lancaster County Central Park) to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and beyond. Some continued traveling to the Waxhaws region of Lancaster, South Carolina, just north of the county seat.
More than three dozen of the Scots-Irish and other soldiers of Amos McManus’s Invincibles never came home from the war. The monument memorializes them and the company’s survivors.
The memorial’s inscription says, in part: “Worthy the fadeless fame which Lancaster’s soldiers won in defending the honor of the South, the rights of the States, the liberties of the people... .''
These words are corrosively controversial today, as are words on most Confederate memorials. But the Lancaster, South Carolina, monument has not been a focus of protest as have dozens of memorials elsewhere.
“That monument’s been here forever,” explained Joe Grier, our affable tour guide through the courthouse’s extensive museum. “There’s not a lot said about it.”
But, Grier added, “we’d be afraid to place Confederate flags around the memorial. We don’t want to stir the pot.”
Nevertheless, several blocks from the monument, vandals have specifically targeted gravestones of Confederate veterans in a Presbyterian church cemetery.
More so than the residents of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, residents of Lancaster, South Carolina, live with the Civil War and its aftermath every day. While the ongoing debate about Confederate memorials and flags has bred heated protest and violence in other places, friction seems subdued south of the Waxhaws. But it is not ever going to go away.
Jack Brubaker, retired from the LNP staff, writes “The Scribbler” column every Wednesday. He welcomes comments and contributions at firstname.lastname@example.org.