A group of mostly old friends gathered yet again to honor the memory of Lt. Walsh, whose grave in Oakwood Cemetery marks a unique aspect of Raleigh’s history. Raleigh’s near destruction by and survival of Sherman’s march, Spring’s eternal hope, and pure Southern spirit are all embodied in this private ceremony, celebrated for 25 years this one. The anniversary of Lt Walsh’s hanging by federal troops after his potshots at them while entering Raleigh reaches its 150th year in 2015. hope to see you there! It is always worthwhile. Thank you, Karl.
Raleigh Rambles posts on Lt Walsh:
A year ago, in starting this blog, I made use of a personal connection and had a little fun with the mystique surrounding the annual decoration of Confederate Lt Walsh’s grave in Oakwood Cemetery. Just as last year, Channel 5 treated it like a mystery, and for the 20th year, an old friend managed to make his remembrance, hold an afternoon reading, and retire to a well-earned evening of mint juleps with friends unscathed by identification. I missed the reading this year, vacationing in Charleston with Cara, but our experiences there had me well steeped in Confederate lore as I checked by the gravesite and stopped for a quick visit at the post-reading party. I’m quite sure they’re still sitting around in Oakdale as I write this, so the event is in process, but Good Night, Raleigh got out an uncannily timely post about the decorations and directs us to NandO’s contribution to last year’s media coverage ( WRAL had current footage of this year’s decorations joined with a re-run of last year’s story). As I promised a year ago, below is the contemporary account included in the printed handouts that accompany the remembrance/celebration.
The Incident at Lovejoy’s Grove
As witnessed and related by Millie Henry
“I was drawin’ water at th’ well at th’ end of Fayetteville Street when th’ Yankees come. I seen ’em ridin’ up th’ street with their blue coats shinin’ and their horses steppin’ high. I knowed that I ought to be scared, but I ain’t; an’ so I stands there an’ watches.
“Suddenly, as they passes th’ bank, out rides two men from Wheeler’s cavalary, and they gets in the middle o’ the street; one of th’ horses wheels back an’ th’ man shot right at th’ Yankees, then he flew from there.
“Two of the Yankees retracts from th’ army an’ they flies after th’ Rebs. When th’ Rebs get to th’ Capitol one of them flies down Morgan Street an’ one goes out Hillsboro Street with th’ Yankees hot in behind him.
“They catched him out there at th’ Hillsboro [Street] bridge when his horse, what was already tired, stumbles an’ he falls an’ hurts his leg.
“Durin’ that time th’ big man with th’ red hair what they calls Kilpatrick brung up his men to th’ square an’ sets under th’ trees an’ a gang o’ people comes up.
“When they brung th’ young good lookin’Reb up to th’ redheaded Gen’l, he sez: ‘What you name, Reb?”
“Th’ boy sez: Robert Walsh, suh.’
“‘What for did you done go an’ shoot at my army?’
“‘Cause I hates th’ Yankees an’ I wish that they was dead in a pile!’ th’ Reb sez, an’ laughs.
“Th’ Gen’l done got his dander up now, an’ he yells: ‘Carry th’ Reb somewheres outta sight o’ th’ ladies an’ hang ’em!’
“Th’ Reb laughs an’ sez: ‘Kind o’ you, suh!’ an’ he waves goodbye to th’ crowd, an’ they carried him off a-laughin’ fit to kill!
“They hanged him on a ole oak tree in th’ Lovejoy Grove, where th’ Governor’s mansion stand now, an’ they buried him under th’ tree.
“Way after th’ war they moved his skeleton to Oakwood Cemetery an’ put him up a monument. His grave was covered with flowers; an’ th’ young ladies cry.
“He died brave, tho’, an’ he kept a-laughin’ til his neck broke. I was there an’ I seen it; furthermore, there was a gang o’ white ladies there, so they might as well a hanged him on the capitol square.”
Millie was a ten year old servant in the Boylan family household who in 1865 was employed at a Fayetteville St. boarding house.
I concur with Goodnight, Raleigh in saying thanks to the local history lover who keeps this fascinating story alive in our hearts and memories.