The Last Confederate Soldier Of South Carolina

PVT. ARNOLD D. MURRAY

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.

Pvt. Arnold D. Murray older

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.

Pvt. Arnold D. Murray 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.

Pvt. Arnold D. Murray death certificate

 

Contributed by SC Division Historian, Dennis Todd

By | 2018-07-29T14:59:22+00:00 March 24th, 2014|Confederate Soldier Wall of Honor|15 Comments

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15 Comments

  1. Michael Thomas March 24, 2014 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    A quick search of the records finds that he was mustered in 26 July 1861 claiming to be 20 years old and proved to be a true and faithful soldier. He is present or accounted in all muster reports until his capture near Petersburg in 18 June 1864. Held as a POW at Elmira, he survived a horrific winter and brutal conditions until release 7 July 1865.

  2. Kevin Dietrich March 27, 2014 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    I have seen reports that claim that Arnold Murray may have actually been born in 1854 or 1855, and may not have served in the Confederate army. A 1981 story in The State paper looked at census records and reported that Murray, at least in the 19th century, was identified on several different censuses as being of an age that would have made him only 10 or 11 years old at war’s end. I also understand that the UDC declined to recognize Murray as the last surviving Confederate veteran in the early 1950s because it was unable to find records to corroborate his claim. If that’s the case, it would appear the last surviving Confederate veteran from South Carolina was Vernon E. Lifrage, who served in Co. I of the 4th South Carolina Cavalry and died in August 1950. Lifrage, from Salters Depot in Williamsburg County, enlisted late in 1864 at age 16.

    • Joan Barwick December 5, 2014 at 6:10 am - Reply

      “Uncle” Vernon Lifrage was written up in the May issue 1941 of Life Magazine! His grave is at Union Presbyterian Churc in Salters, SC AND IS a relative of mine! I have pictures of him and other info! Just happened to read this and will get back with more info! Thanks for posting this!

  3. Garry Victor Hill March 30, 2014 at 6:44 am - Reply

    I am researching the last civil war veterans and going against the Wikipedia entry “The Last Confederates” which lists Murray and others as “debunked” on thin evidence. The census documents are frequently contradictory, vague and obviously wrong, but even if they are right Murray could have served, there were several known soldiers aged ten or eleven and one document says born “about 1854” Another from 1920 gives a birthdate of 1847/1848.
    If anyone has information about Murray’s service, particularly his full name on a document, ,age or date of birth or marriage this would be appreciated and acknowledged. When set up my website entry will be free. Garry Hill

    • Irvin Shuler January 21, 2015 at 4:30 pm - Reply

      Garry,
      I read, with interest, your note of March 30, 2014 about Pvt. Arnold Murray, the last Confederate Veteran on South Carolina.
      If you will contact me I Have a booklet I’d like to send to you.
      It is the program booklet I had published when my Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp hosted the 50 year Memorial Service in memory of Pvt. Murray. Over the years I have known many people who actually knew him and has told me stories they remember from their times together. I was eleven years old when he passed away and remember it like it was just yesterday.
      I have a copy of Pvt. Murray’s death certificate. In fact, I furnished all the info you saw on the web site.
      My e-mail: Dixieforrest@Centurylink.net
      I live near Santee, South Carolina and I look forward to hearing from you.
      Irvin Shuler

  4. Cheryl Dick September 13, 2014 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    My mother in law Margie Murray Dick is kin to Arnold Murray. He was her uncle. Looking for info on him for our family book.

    • Garry Victor Hill January 31, 2015 at 12:55 am - Reply

      Information about Arnold Murray and his family is in the segment on him in my books The Controversies Over the Last Civil war Veterans (basic version)findable by title
      and America’s Last Civil War Participants: An Investigation (LONGER) This is found on my website and is available in book form. While much info was found, including a 1913 photo, there are still massive gaps and the censuses are muddled and frequently impossible. I did find his 1910 census, previously listed as non-existent. That will give you an idea of the problems

    • Garry Victor Hill January 31, 2015 at 11:39 pm - Reply

      My book “America’s Last Civil War Veterans: An investigation” exists in an free e-book version and the section on Arnold Murray needs revision to incorporate your evidence which when credited will verify him. While there are gaps, much of the information you are looking for about him and his family is in my book. Jay S. Hoar also has a section on him in “The South’s Last Boys in Gray’ (2010)The e-book will not attach to this comment box. copy has already been sent to Irvin Shuler.

    • Garry Victor Hill January 31, 2015 at 11:43 pm - Reply

      If you contact me at garryhill7@bigpond.com I can send you a free copy of my e-book. Without mentioning your name the evidence you mention has been referred to. Proper acknowledgement can be made on request. This site does not work with attachments.

  5. Cheryl Dick September 13, 2014 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    I found where he was mustered in. I found the Life magazine article on him. I found his burial article. I found other documents as well. I doubt he would have had a medal from that war unless he served. I doubt there would have been letters home if he had not served. So stop being a doubting Thomas and look at the facts.

    • Garry Victor Hill January 31, 2015 at 12:48 am - Reply

      This is vital information to incorporate into the segment of my book that examines Arnold Murray’s record. The book is America’s Last Civil War participants: An Investigation. Try http://garryvictorhill.comau/ top bar on the screen. This should get you into my website.

  6. Frank Grzyb March 4, 2015 at 9:01 am - Reply

    Nice to see a photograph of Arnold Murray. I have a few comments. How does the SC Dept. of the SCV know that this is an actual image of Arnold? How did the department agree that he was the last veteran from the state, not Vernon Lefrage? It’s nice to say Murray was the last, but there is no discussion on how he was proven a credible choice. Please respond.

    • Garry Victor Hill March 24, 2015 at 5:43 pm - Reply

      Dear Frank Grzyb,
      While not a member od any organization I have written a book “America’s Last Civil War Participants: An Investigation.” It is freely available online at my website http://garryhill.com.au/ A revised expanded edition online and in softbound(not free)should be available soon. A long section deals with Arnold Murray The excerpt below is a summary. Further evidence fr these conclusions is in the text.

      While evidence still remains inconclusive for full verification enough evidence exists to lift him above the status of debunked. He is listed as possible//probable on the evidence summarised below.
      The census documents that supposedly disprove him on age are too full of errors, ambiguities, omissions, contradictions and dubious statements to prove or disprove anything. He had the two photographs. He kept his Confederate uniform. He knew the names of his immediate commanding officers. He made the 1930 affirmation. In the censuses of 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 he gave ages consistent with Civil War service, ‘Life’ magazine’s stated age did the same and matched the later censuses. The awarded pension means someone verified his claims. The 1952 death certificate stated his veteran’s status. The description of “Confederate Veteran” is in the in-laws family Bible. The enlistment documents for an A.B. Murray are ambiguous, but his full name on related Confederate military documents are not.

    • Garry Victor Hill March 29, 2015 at 2:46 am - Reply

      My apologies about the rushed reply. This explains more and has been checked for typos.
      While evidence still remains inconclusive for full verification for Arnold Murray’s claims to Civil War service, enough evidence exists to lift him above the status of debunked. His listing as very possible for being a Civil War survivor in my book America’s Last Civil War Participants: An Investigation (2015) has a basis on the evidence summarised below. A full read on the long segment on Arnold Murray would be worthwhile.
      The census documents of 1870, 1880 and 1900 that supposedly disprove him on age are too full of errors, ambiguities, omissions, contradictions and dubious statements to prove or disprove anything. Newspaper accounts of his enlistment give three different dates 1864, 1865 and in his words “late in the war.” Similar confusion exists over his enlistment age, 14, 18, or when he was “a youngster.” He had the two photographs, one from the Civil War is in this article. A copy was sent to me by a man whose father was a neighbour and friend of Arnold Murray. The second photograph came on the market last year and comes from a 1913 Confederate reunion. It shows Murray in a group photograph and that he kept his Confederate uniform as the family claimed. His name is handwritten with the others on the back of the photograph. The face matches that in the 1949 life magazine article. He knew the names of his immediate commanding officers and where and when his unit trained. He made the 1930 affirmation. In the censuses of 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 he gave ages consistent with Civil War service, Life magazine’s stated age did the same and matched the later censuses. The awarded pension means someone verified his claims. The 1952 death certificate stated his veteran’s status. The description of “Confederate Veteran” is in the in-laws family Bible, although this might be a 1981 comment. The enlistment documents for an A.B. Murray are ambiguous, parts of this document match what Arnold Murray said he did in the war, but other parts do not. This Arnold B. Murray enlisted in the cavalry in September 1863 joined the unit Arnold claimed to be in in early 1864 and by May 1864 he was in the fighting in Virginia, where he was soon wounded and shipped back to South Carolina before ruterning to Richmond. His name on Confederate military documents concerning his transfer and war record are usually given as A.B. Murray due to lack of space. On two documents with more space he is written in as Arnold Murray and Charleston is written in as his location.
      He had a good reputation for honesty and reliability and with his frm and children had no apparent reason for fraud.

  7. James E. Harley March 7, 2015 at 4:34 pm - Reply

    I went to the church today and cleaned Pvt. Murray’s grave. I replaced his flags, which were in bad shape, wire brushed, cleaned, and painted his “Southern Cross”. It was an honor.

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