Confederate veterans J.M. Wishum and J.L. Potts honored in ceremony

Published 12:00am Saturday, May 17, 2014

A favorite project of members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy is to pay honor and tribute to veterans of the War for Southern Independence. In a majority of the cases, when these men died, their families did not have the means to mark their graves permanently and with a description of their military service.

This past Saturday there was just such a dedication ceremony in the Salem Baptist Church Cemetery, located on Salem Church Road south of Andalusia. The cemetery is situated south of the road and in front of the church building. It is an attractive, peaceful burying ground where many citizens of that community were buried.

Salem Church was established in 1837; one of the earliest in the county, but the cemetery was not created until 1905 when Mrs. F.M. Knight was buried on February 6. This is assuming that no one was buried earlier without a headstone marking the grave and giving, dates, etc. This writer’s great grandparents, John and Eveline (Wishum) Fuqua donated the land for the church and the early cemetery. The Clyde Northrop family later donated additional acreage for expanding the cemetery as needed.

Eveline Wishum Fuqua’s father, James Madison Wishum, was one of the Confederate Veterans honored on May 10. Eveline’s maternal grandfather, James L. Potts, was the other one remembered. James Madison died in 1928 and was buried beside his wife, Elizabeth “Lizzie” (Potts) Wishum, in their plot at the Salem Cemetery. Their graves were marked with nice marble headstones, but James Madison’s military service was not noted. During the memorial ceremony, a pillow marker bearing his service unit and dates was placed at the foot of his grave.

Family researchers have not been able to locate a grave for James L. Potts, who died in 1863 during the war. Some feel he died in Pollard, but there is no documentation of where he was when he died or where he was buried. His wife remarried and at her death was buried in Paul in Conecuh County. At the ceremony on Saturday, he was honored, and a pillow marker engraved with his military unit was placed in the space next to his daughter.

The ceremony was conducted before an assembly of Wishum and Potts descendants, men and women appreciating Confederate heritage and friends. Curtis H. Thomasson, commander of the Covington Rifles Camp, SCV #1586, began the memorial service by extending a welcome and introduction to the ceremony. Thomasson is also a great, great grandson of Confederate Veteran James Madison Wishum and a great, great, great grandson of Confederate Veteran James L. Potts. Hank Roberts, chaplain of SCV Camp #1586, then voiced an invocation.

At this point, the Coffee County Rangers SCV Camp #911’s Color Guard, commanded by Deke Scott, post the Colors, the five official Confederate Flags. Joseph Clark Jr., commander of the Coffee County Rangers SCV Camp and commander of the Southeast Alabama Brigade of the Alabama Division of SCV, led the group in a salute to the Confederate Flag after which Randy Kelley, song leader of the Covington Rifles Camp, led the assembly in singing “Dixie.”

Scott Lawson, an SCV member and re-enactor from Georgia, who is also a great, great and great, great, great grandson of the two Confederate Veterans, gave an informative biographical sketch of the two men. James Madison Wishum served as a private in Company H, 23rd Alabama Infantry Regiment. He enlisted in 1862 at Conecuh County, Ala., and served until January 1865 at which time he was released or furloughed from a hospital in Marion, Ala. He had suffered frostbite to his feet along with other health issues to the extent they wanted to amputate one leg. He refused to allow this and was finally released from service. Unfortunately, he suffered from this misfortune for the rest of his life and walked with a limp. He was a hard working farmer who bravely fought for his rights and to defend his homeland. He lived admirably through a very difficult period of time and truly deserves to be honored.

The second veteran, James L. Potts, was the father-in-law of Veteran James Madison Wishum. He was a young man who had married Eveline Cobb, and they had three young children when he enlisted in the Confederate Army. Private Potts enlisted for service on March 4, 1862, at Pensacola, Fla., and was assigned to Company I, 29th Alabama Infantry Regiment. He was on furlough from August 8 to August 28 that year, but he was present for Muster Roll on October 31, April 30, 1863 and August 31, 1863. Tragically, he died during the war in 1863. What happened to him from August until his death that year and the location of his grave is not known. He was honored during this ceremony and a pillow marker was temporarily placed in the Wishum family plot.

Next, Scott Lawson, and his brother, Luke Lawson, both members of the Lt. Lovett Allen Tully SCV Camp in Georgia, folded two Confederate Flags ceremoniously. They then presented those to two of their relatives who are descendants of the veterans. Then two ladies, Donna Clark and Tammie Evans, who were wearing their period, black “mourning” dresses, placed standing wreaths of Southern design at the new grave markers. Donna is from Elba, Ala., and is currently serving as President of the Alabama Division of the U.D.C., and Tammie, a resident of Andalusia, is the current Division Historian. She is also Past President of the Thomas Randolph Thomasson Chapter of the UDC, which is based in Andalusia. Chaplain Hank Roberts then voiced a symbolic prayer of dedication after which Charles Simon played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.

The Coffee County Rangers SCV Camp #911 Honor Guard marched in and positioned for the military salute. The five re-enactors, who were commanded by Sgt. Major Deke Scott, fired three rounds. The five men included Luke Lawson, Dallas Hudson, Stuart Mock, Tim Walton and Brandon Grant. This was followed by a cannon salute of three volleys fired by Ray Kyle who was assisted by his grandson, Logan Davis, and Re-enactor Brian Fleming of the Coffee County Rangers. Descendant and re-enactor Luke Lawson and Sgt. Major Deke Scott then paid tribute to the veterans with a canteen salute during which they drank from their canteens and poured out a drink for the veterans.

The ceremony was concluded with Erica Ziglar, a member of the LBW Community College Ensemble, playing “Taps.”

Anyone who might have questions related to this writing or who has additional information on the Potts or Wishum family is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL; 334-804-1442; or Email: cthomasson@centurytel.net.

Editor's Picks