Confederate Tributes to the Pee Dee
Florence, South Carolina
The Pee Dee was a steam-powered gunboat -- 170 feet long -- built near Florence by the Confederates during the Civil War. It took three years to complete. The ship made one brief trip, was brought back to its shipbuilding yard, and was then torched and sunk by its crew to prevent its capture by the Union Army.
That's not much to brag about, but the United Daughters of the Confederacy thought otherwise. The ship's two big iron propellers were salvaged in 1926, mounted on blocks as outdoor memorials in 1928, and joined by a tombstone-like monument that was carved with a likeness of the Pee Dee. The inscriptions on all of these memorials are heavy on spin and image management. "Let these relics of a noble past forever testify to the patriotism of the ninety heroic souls who manned this cruiser," reads one chiseled into the base of one of the propellers. "No nation rose so white and fair, none fell so pure of crime," insists the tombstone.
In 1954 what remained of the Pee Dee was salvaged and displayed at a local attraction named Confederateland. When it went out of business, the ship's boiler wound up at South of the Border. The boiler eventually disappeared as well, and all that was left were the propellers.