Propeller of the Pee Dee.

Confederate Tributes to the Pee Dee

Field review by the editors.

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.

Pee Dee Monument.

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.

Confederate Tributes to the Pee Dee

Florence Museum of Art

Address:
558 Spruce St., Florence, SC
Directions:
In the back yard of the former (and now closed) Florence Museum of Art, Science, and History. I-95 exit 160A. Drive east on I-20 (which immediately turns into a surface road) for two miles. Turn left onto Palmetto St./US 76. Drive two miles. At the corner of an NBSC Bank (on right) and Sherwin Williams (on left) turn right onto Graham St. Drive three blocks; the driveway to museum is straight ahead. Park in lot to the right, walk behind museum.
Admission:
Free
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