Memorialized in Glass: The Mississippi Window at Blandford Church, Petersburg, Virginia

At the entrance to Blandford Cemetery at Petersburg, Virginia, is an imposing stone arch through which visitor must pass on their way into the grounds. Carved into the very top of the arch are the words, “Our Confederate Heroes,” a simple tribute to the estimated 20,000 Southern soldiers who lie buried on the grounds.

The archway leading into Blandford Cemetery at Petersburg, Virginia

Overlooking the cemetery is Blandford Church, and inside the historic structure are 15 stained glass windows commissioned by the Ladies’ Memorial Association of Petersburg to honor the memory of the Confederate soldiers who are buried nearby. As one of these windows commemorates the Mississippi dead who lie in that sacred ground, I want to share a little history about how this memorial in glass was created.

Blandford Church was built in 1735 by the Episcopal Congregation of Blandford, Virginia,

Blandford Church

a small town outside Petersburg. The church had a long and distinguished history, but after the Civil War the building was abandoned when the congregation built a new church in Petersburg.

On May 6, 1866, the Ladies’ Memorial Association of Petersburg was formed, and one of the projects that the group took on was the restoration of the church as a memorial to the memory of the Confederate soldiers who had died at Petersburg. In the early 1900s the association called on each Southern state to fund a memorial window in the church to honor their dead who were buried in the adjacent cemetery.

Each window placed in the church was to follow a common design: at the top the coat of arms of the state, in the center the figure of one of the apostles, and at the bottom an inscription. These windows would not be cheap – the Ladies’ Memorial Association planned to have them made by one of the Premiere glass makers in the United States: Louis Comfort Tiffany of New York. Each window cost $400 – which would be almost $10,000 in 2011 dollars.

Window honoring the Ladies Memorial Association of Petersburg

Virginia and Missouri were the first states to fund their windows, followed quickly by Louisiana. These first three windows were unveiled on June 9, 1904, to a vast throng of citizens who turned out for the ceremonies.

It took a little longer for Mississippi to raise the money for her window, but by 1909 Mrs. Lou Clark of Vicksburg, probably a member of the local United Daughters of the Confederacy chapter, reported to the Petersburg Ladies’ Association that most of the money was in hand, and the order for the window was being placed with Tiffany’s in New York.

The image of Saint James adorns the Mississippi Window at Blandford Church

On June 3, 1910, the Mississippi window at Blandford Church, along with those of

Close-up of the Mississippi State Seal on the Blandford Church Window

Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, Maryland, and Arkansas, were unveiled in a well attended ceremony. Since that time the windows have served as a striking reminder of the terrible cost of the Civil War.

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3 thoughts on “Memorialized in Glass: The Mississippi Window at Blandford Church, Petersburg, Virginia

  1. I came across your blog looking for information on the Mississippi window at Blandford Church because I recently found an interesting article in the Vicksburg Evening Post, January 27, 1908 appealing for donations for the window. I’m so glad to find out that they raised the funds and installed this beautiful window! Thanks for the pictures and information.

    If you’d like, I’ll reprint the article here in a comment, or I can send it to you via real mail?

  2. Vicksburg Evening Post, Monday, January 27, 1908, p. 2:
    AN APPEAL FOR A MEMORIAL WINDOW

    Last summer when we first made an appeal for a Memorial Windows in “Old Blandford Church” to the memory of the Mississippi soldiers buried in the Confederate Cemetery in the old church yard, the subject of raising funds in the competition for securing the Diocesan College in our city became so interesting that we thought best to let the window matter rest for awhile, then came the financial crisis causing further delay, but the idea was not abandoned.

    When the appeal was made, the editor of the Vicksburg Herald kindly added the following note:

    “In the fighting in front of Petersburg, in June 1964, Old Blandford Church was field hospital for Humphreys’ brigade. Its aisles ran with Mississippi blood, and a number of her dead were buried under its eaves; one of them a grandson of one of the early governors of the State.”

    The old church has been put in though repair and is used regularly as a chapel, it contains thirteen windows and the ladies of Petersburg Memorial Association have asked that each of the Southern states put in a memorial window. All have responded but three, Mississippi being one of the three.

    The cemetery is divided in squares, one set apart of the dead of each State. The Mississippi Square has been the special charge of Mrs. R.W. Barham, wife of the editor of the Petersburg Index-Appeal, for the last seven years; it contains 315 Mississippians, and this Memorial Association has placed a handsome marble marker in the center. The zeal and enthusiasm shown by these ladies make one feel the neglect that has been shown by Mississippi very keenly.

    It will take $400 to place this window, and we desire that every Mississippian should participate in the contributions, which please send to the Merchants’ National Bank, of Vicksburg, Miss., to the fund for Old Blandford Memorial Window, to be held until that amount has been contributed.

    We desire to get this window placed in time to be dedicated on next Memorial Day.

    (MRS.) LOU CLARKE, for
    The Ladies Confederate Cemetery Memorial Association

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