~ Southern Cross of Honor ~
In October of 1862, the Confederate Congress approved an act to honor the service and valor of officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates in the Confederate Army. Intended to be the equivalent of the Federal Medal of Honor, the Southern version of the medal was never issued during the war. Metal shortages in the South meant that medals were never struck. Instead, a Confederate Honor Roll was established, and the names of men awarded the honor were recorded by the Adjutant Inspector General. Unlike the Medal of Honor, which was awarded to an individual based on government criteria, Confederate non-commissioned officers and privates voted for a soldier in their company who deserved a spot on the Honor Roll.
While attending a reunion of Confederate veterans in Atlanta in July 1898, Mrs. Alexander S. (Mary Ann Lamar Cobb) Erwin of Athens, Ga., conceived the idea of bestowing the Southern Cross of Honor on Confederate veterans . Mrs. Erwin and Mrs. Sarah E. Gabbett of Atlanta are credited with the design of the medal: a Maltese cross with a wreath of laurel surrounding the words "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."
Mr. Charles W. Crankshaw of Atlanta was chosen to manufacture the Crosses, but the first order was not given until the UDC had secured a copyright (February 20, 1900). During the first 18 months of the Cross's availability, 12,500 were ordered and delivered
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 first Cross ever bestowed was upon Mrs. Erwin’s husband, Captain Alexander S. Erwin, by the Athens (Ga.) Chapter on April 26, 1900.
The Crosses of Military Service and Medals currently bestowed by the UDC are an outgrowth of the Southern Cross of Honor. These Crosses and Medals are awarded to veterans who have served or are serving in defense of America. They are the most prized awards conferred by the UDC.
The UDC presents complete sets of the Crosses to libraries and museums if they agree to display the sets. The Southern Cross of Honor is always included if one is available. Should someone owning a Southern Cross of Honor wish to donate it to the UDC, it will be included in a set presented to a museum or library. While the UDC Business Office does not have the original applications for the Southern Cross of Honor, it does have the ledgers compiled by Mrs. Anna Davenport Raines during her seven-year term as Custodian of Crosses of Honor. Mrs. Raines recorded the recipients of every Cross bestowed, beginning with Number 1, until she resigned in 1913, for a total of 78,761 Crosses, The ledgers provide the name and unit of each recipient and may in some cases give the date and place of the award. An cumulative index was developed by the Caroline Meriwether Goodlett Library Committee in the 1980s to cross reference the information contained in the ledgers.
Tennessee Confederate Flagger
Sister, Eileen Parker Zoellner