For over three years, the Virginia Flaggers have forwarded the colors, twice a week, on the sidewalk outside of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) after museum officials forced the removal of Confederate Battle Flags from the portico of the Confederate Memorial Chapel.
One cannot truly appreciate the history and significance of the Chapel, nor the degree of desecration committed when museum leadership, driven by their own misguided prejudice and ignorance, removed the flags, without knowing the (personal) stories of the men who built the Chapel, worshiped in it every Sunday, and gathered each time the bell tolled, to pay their respects to and honor their comrades, as one by one, the Veterans passed over to eternity.
For many of our Flaggers, this fight is about more than just defending our Heritage against yet another unwarranted and unprovoked attack. For those whose veins course with the blood of the men who actually had a connection to the Old Soldiers ™ Home, it is personal...
Moses Drury Hoge may not have been a soldier, but his importance to the veterans of the R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1 Soldiers' Home cannot be denied.
Born in 1818 in the oldest building at Hampden Sydney College in Prince Edward County, Virginia, he was the son of college president Moses Hoge, who moved his family to Ohio so he could study there when his son was 2. After his father's death, young Moses, then 15, was sent to live with an uncle in North Carolina. He went on to attend Hampden Sydney and graduated as class valedictorian, becoming the assistant to Dr. Plumer in Richmond's First Presbyterian Church after college. Though the two became lifelong friends, Moses decided to start a separate church, Second Presbyterian on Fifth Street, in 1845. That same year, he discovered that the U.S. Army in Mexico needed chaplains, so he immediately volunteered.
In 1860 the Hoges moved to a house at the corner of Fifth and Main Streets, where they entertained many distinguished visitors, including Jefferson Davis, Alexander Stephens, Robert E. Lee, Joseph Johnston, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, and more.
Rev. Moses Hoge was an abolitionist who supported secession from the Union and the radical Republicans who controlled it. At the start of the War Between the States, Gov. John Letcher appointed him to the Council of Chaplains. Moses preached to over 100,000 men during the war and was a favorite of the Stonewall Brigade. Cpl. James P. Smith wrote, ".... but the prayer, with far-reaching distinctness and with appeal and tenderness went up through the open skies to the God of so many fathers and mothers, to the great captain of our salvation, and went down into the hearts of those boys in gray, and tears were on many faces and strong desires in many hearts."
After the Seven Days Battles, Gen. Jackson himself went to Second Presbyterian to hear Moses preach. Small wonder that Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens appointed Moses "Honorary Chaplain" of the Confederate Congress. He opened congressional sessions with prayer 44 times, far more than any other minister. He also accompanied President Davis and his cabinet during the evacuation of Richmond. In Danville, he found Secretary of State Benjamin walking the streets without a room and took him to his own lodging.
By May, 1865 Moses returned to Richmond, depressed. "To me it seems that our overthrow is the worst thing that could have happened for the South and the worst thing that could have happened for the North, and for the cause of constitutional freedom and of religion on this continent," he wrote. "But the Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens and his kingdom ruleth overall ..." Later, Moses admitted to having lost $30,000-$40,000 during the war.
Moses returned to his job as pastor of Second Presbyterian church but was not forgotten by the Confederate veterans. On May 8, 1887, he dedicated the Confederate Memorial Chapel at the Robert E. Lee Camp No.1 Soldiers Home. He preached there often, also speaking at the dedications of the Lee and Jackson monuments. When Moses was 80, he was injured in a streetcar accident but never recovered. He passed away on January 6, 1898 and was buried in Hollywood Cemetery across from the 10th President of the United States, John Tyler.
Over 100 years after Moses Drury Hoge entered his eternal rest, his young cousin is determined that his sacrifice, courage and devotion to God and country will not be forgotten, as he forwards the Colors in his memory, and in protest of those who have desecrated the Confederate Memorial Chapel and the hallowed ground on which it rests, and dishonored our gallant Confederate Veterans.
RETURN the flags!
RESTORE the honor!