The United Daughters of the Confederacy Bethel Heroes held their latest monthly meeting on Sept. 4 at the Braswell Memorial Library. Guest speaker for the meeting was member, Margaret Sink, who spoke on the Southern Cross of Honor.
While attending a reunion of Confederate Veterans in Atlanta in July 1898, Mrs. Alexander S. Erwin of Athens, Ga, conceived the idea of bestowing the Southern Cross of Honor on Confederate Veterans. She and Mrs. Sarah Gabbett designed the medal: A maltese cross with a wreath of laurel surrounding the Confederate motto “Deo Vindice (God our Vindicator) 1861-1865” and the inscription “Southern Cross of Honor” on the face. On the reverse side is a confederate Battle Flag surrounded by a laurel wreath and the words “United Daughters of the Confederacy to the UCV” UCV stands for United Confederate Veterans
Only a Confederate Veteran could wear the Southern Cross of Honor, and it could only be bestowed through the UDC. Money could not buy the Cross; they were bought by loyal honorable service to the South and given in recognition of this devotion. The local Bethel Heroes Chapter is currently trying to document the location and holder of any Southern Cross of Honor that was awarded to local veterans during the early 1900’s. If you are in possession of a Cross or know someone who is, please contact us at P. O. Box 64, Nashville, NC 27856 so that the Cross can be registered with the UDC Memorial Library in Richmond.
An outgrowth of the Southern Cross of Honor is also used as a grave marker on graves of Confederate veterans who served honorably in the War Between the States. It can be one of two forms which can sometimes be seen on the same soldier’s grave.
One form is an outline of the Southern Cross which is engraved on the actual gravestone of the Veteran. This symbol is still available from the Veterans Administration or from some private monument companies and stone carvers.
The second form seen on Confederate graves is a two-sided, cast iron replica of the medal.
This cross stands atop of a metal rod or hangs from a medal rod placed in the ground. It is referred to as the “Iron Cross” and is typically placed on graves by local camps of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, by family members or interested parties related to the Confederate Veteran.
The Iron Cross is available for purchase and can still be placed on the grave of any Confederate Veteran who served honorably in the War Between the States. These iron crosses can be found on many grave sites in Nash County, honoring the many confederate soldiers who fought for their cause.