Battle of Selma memorial service will go on

Published 9:12 pm Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Although the Battle of Selma won’t be held this year, at least one part of the battle will continue on.

Old Cahawba Archaeological Park will hold its annual memorial service April 22 to honor soldiers who died in the Civil War. Linda Derry, site director at Old Cahawba, said they are still finalizing the plans of the entire ceremony, but confirmed it will continue this year.

“We are glad this little bit of the Battle of Selma is going to continue in 2017 until they decide what they are going to do in 2018,” Derry said. “We were very glad to be able to keep that momentum alive for them.”

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Derry said when the Battle of Selma was canceled, she worried initially that the reenactors that usually help with the ceremony wouldn’t be in town to do it.

“We’ve done it for a couple of years with some of reenactors,” Derry said. “It came from the reenactors wanting to honor in particular the Union dead.

At Cahawba we had a prisoner of war camp and many men died here and we actually have one unknown soldier still buried here. Having them come here and honor the Union dead, it’s not just play acting, it’s taking the seriousness of the Civil War, the outcome of it and the price that was paid by the men they are re-enacting.”

Derry said they are still working out the details for this year’s memorial service, but she’s hoping for a canon salute, a 21-gun salute and she’s hoping to have someone to sing a hymn as ladies dressed in attire from that era lay a wreath on the grave of the unknown soldier.

“We don’t have the schedule yet,” Derry said.

Derry will not be in town that weekend because she will in Tennessee at the annual reunion of descendants of the Sultana, the steamboat that exploded in the worst maritime disaster in United States history. Derry said in 2018 the Sultana reunion will be held at Old Cahawba.  “Most of the POWs at the end of the war that were here were marched to Vicksburg and a lot of them were put on the boat the Sultana to go home,” Derry said. “We even have letters written to their wives and daughters saying they are coming home. They survived the bloodiest war, they survived the prisoner of war camp and their boat exploded around Memphis, Tennessee … Cahawba is forever tied to that horrific disaster.”