PVT. ARNOLD D. MURRAY
June 10, 1846 to Nov. 25, 1952
November 30, 1952, On Sunday afternoon, November 30, 1952, the somber notes of “Taps” echoed across the cemetery of White House Methodist Church. They came from the bugle of Citadel Cadet, G. E. Meagher of Long Island, New York and were sounded for Private Arnold D. Murray, Co. H, 11th SC Infantry, the last Confederate Veteran of the Carolinas. Pvt. Murray was 106 years old.
Plans for the funeral were begun nearly two years earlier. Sometime in 1950, then Governor Strom Thurmond learned that Pvt. Murray was the last survivor of the War Between The States in South Carolina and put together a committee of prominent South Carolinians to plan the inevitable funeral. These were Robert R. Coker of Hartsville; James A. Rogers, Executive Vice President of the state Farm Bureau and Editor of the Florence Morning News; J. M. Napier of Darlington; Hugo Sims, Editor of The Times and Democrat; and Samuel J. Latimer, Jr., Editor of The State newspaper.
Arnold Murray died on November 25th, 1952. Dukes-Harley Funeral Home of Orangeburg was in charge of arrangements, along with members of the two-year planning committee. The service was set for 3:00 p.m. Sunday, November 30th.
Between four thousand and five thousand people were expected to attend but the sanctuary at White House Church could only seat two hundred. At 2:15 p.m. the long funeral procession departed the funeral home. The casket bearing Pvt. Murray’s remains was draped with a Confederate Battle Flag. The procession included Governor James F. Byrnes and former Governor J. Strom Thurmond, the ministers, members of the planning committee, those participating in the service, representatives of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Sons of
Confederate Veterans, a group of Spanish-American War Veterans, a Color Guard from Richland County American Legion Post No. 6, a group of Citadel Cades serving as pallbearers, and over a hundred members of Mr. Murray’s family.
At the church, the funeral procession was met by a vast crowd, estimated by the SC Highway Patrol at five thousand. A neighboring field was rented to provide parking space. Still hundreds of cars lined US 301, north and south. A military guard of the 51st Quartermaster Company and the 118th Infantry of the South Carolina National Guard were on hand to participate.
Displayed in the sanctuary, behind Mr. James A. Rogers, opening speaker, was the original Battle Flag of the “Edisto Rifles,” Orangeburg’s celebrated Confederate Unit. Later, a local quartet presented a rendition of the Confederate ballard, “Tenting on the Old Campground.”
The main speaker, Mr. Samuel J. Latimer, Jr. opened, “We are assembled today to mourn the death of a good soldier, a respected citizen, and an honorable man but we are also here to mark the passing of an era.” He also said, “Pvt. Murray and the Southern troops fought to preserve a Constitution being trampled by power and greed. Let us be crystal clear, the South was not the aggressor and there would have
been no armed conflict had not the north, led by bitter anti-Southerners, resorted to force to deny the Southern States their right to pursue a constitutional government.”
Mr. Latimer was Editor of The State newspaper.
As Citadel Cadets bore the casket from the church to the gravesite, the hymn “Abide with me” was played and a Confederate Battle Flag flew at half staff on a flag pole near the grave.
At the foot of the grave, Mrs. C. C. Clinkscales, past President General of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in South Carolina, placed a maltese cross, the Confederate Cross of Honor, used to mark the graves of all known Confederate Veterans. A wreath of fresh magnolia leaves was placed upon the Cross by Mrs. Julia Thomas on behalf of the local Paul McMichael Chapter # 427 of the UDC. Mrs.
Roscoe Gerrard Rackley representing the Confederate Southern Memorial Society placed a small Confederate Flag at the gravesite. The band played “Dixie.”
Symbolically, a group of Citadel Cadets, whose firing on the Star of the West had been the opening shots of the War Between the States, fired the closing shots at the funeral of Pvt. Arnold D. Murray.
Mr. Murray was born June 10, 1846, the son of hard working rural people. He lived just “down-the-road-a-little” from White House Methodist Church and Cemetery.
Five generations survived him including his son, Lee, and two daughters, Mrs. Annie Jones and Mrs. Mamie Woodward. He was buried beside his wife, Laura, who died in 1930 at age 82. A grandson, Arnold Lee Murray, also buried nearby was Orangeburg County’s first casualty in the Korean War.
Contributed by SC Division Historian, Dennis Todd