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Group honors those who have fallen

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May, 1867

Two years had passed since the close of the War Between the States. Covington was a small county seat village without railroad, telegraph or newspaper. Col. R. H. Munford estimated the town’s population at “300 inhabitants.”

It was in that year that the first memorial or decoration ceremony was held in the Munford Cemetery at Covington. The service, held on May 1, 1869, began at 9 a.m. at the female seminary (old city grammar school). Here, the ladies of the town gathered with their flowers and then proceeded to Munford Cemetery to decorate the graves of the Confederate and Union dead.

As time marched on, this informal ceremony grew to become an organized affair sponsored by the Ladies Memorial Association, then the Tipton County Confederate Memorial Association, the mission of which was to raise money for a monument to the Southern war dead in the county.

After 1898, the ceremony was sponsored by the Baker Lemmon Chapter, No. 251, United Daughters of the Confederacy (UCV).

The aged veterans of the Joe Brown bivouac, United Confederate veterans, would attend the memorial service in uniform carrying Confederate flags while men of Co. D, Confederate Veterans National Guard state troops would fire musket volleys in memorial salute. The graves of soldiers of the Spanish American War and the world wars would be decorated in subsequent years.

In 1901, the James R. Alexander Camp No. 257, Sons of Confederate Veterans was organized and joined in the effort. By the end of World War I, the UDC was assisted by the American Legion and later on the Legion Auxiliary. Spanish American War veterans joined as a co-sponsor. The Boy Scouts and John T. Eckford of Maley Funeral Home marked the graves of the Union, Confederate and World War dead during the 1930s.

Following World War II, Ray Pinner Post No. 4840, Veterans of Foreign Wars joined with the American Legion about the time the ladies of the U.D.C. surrendered their charter. One of the last memorial services sponsored by these groups at Munford Cemetery was in May 1959.

In 1975, the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV was re-established in Covington as Hon. Charles B. Simonton Camp and chartered as unit No. 1339. Simonton had served as captain of Co. C, 9th Tennessee infantry until wounded and disabled in the Battle of Perryville, Ky.

Following the war, he taught school, edited the Tipton Record, was elected state representative and was elected and re-elected U. S. congressman for two terms, 1878-82. He was the principal organizer of the UCV at Covington and for many years served as the master of ceremonies of the annual Confederate reunions held at Brighton and the memorial services in Munford Cemetery. Simonton had lost four brothers in the war and his wife, Mary McDill, had also lost loved ones in the war. Their five children were in the UDC and SCV.

Since 1977, the men of Simonton – Wilcox Camp No. 257, SCV have sponsored the annual Memorial Day services in Tipton County, most all of them in the R. H. Munford Cemetery, Covington. June 1 marked the 37th annual service sponsored by the local SCV since 1977. The service included the placing of flags on the graves of the 217 Confederate and 10 Union in the cemetery; invocation, pledge of allegiance, salute to the Confederate Flag, singing of “America the Beautiful” and “Dixie,” memorial address, roll call of soldiers interred in the cemetery; military salute, benediction, placing flowers on the graves of the Civil War soldiers and refreshments. Approximately 50 attended the ceremony.

The weekend prior to the service, members worked repairing grave markers, erecting tombstones knocked down or vandalized, cutting grass, etc. Camp members and spouses working and taking part in the ceremony were: Russell and Patricia Bailey, Jared Baker, Harry Billings, Roy Collins, Wayne Culver, Roger Farrell Jr., James Fields, Chris and Lessie Fisher, David Gwinn, Tim Sloan, Jesse and Thelma White, Alan White, Craig and Mrs. Wright, Darrell Wright.

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