"No nation rose so white and fair," wrote British poet Phillip Stanhope Worsley in a short verse dedicated to General Robert E. Lee. "And none fell so pure of crime." These words, which a number of sources claim are etched on more Confederate monuments than any other text, capture the essential sentiments of a stance popular in the defeated South after the War Between the States. In essence, adherents of the movement that came to be known as the "lost cause" believed that the late war may have been a military disaster for the South but that it was nonetheless justified as a defense against Northern aggression and that the heroes of the Confederacy should be regarded as martyrs who fell defending a now-vanished way of life. Not surprisingly, monuments supporting this position sprang up across the South, particularly after the period of Reconstruction when Southerners once again regained some control over their political fate. Indeed, in 1875, three years after the end of Reconstruction in Georgia and two years before federal troops were withdrawn from South Carolina, the Ladies Memorial Association of Augusta began collecting funds to create a memorial "in honor of the men of Richmond County who died in the cause of the Confederate States." In October of 1878, more than 10,000 people gathered on what is now the 700 block of Broad Street in downtown Augusta to witness the dedication of one of the state's most imposing monuments to the "lost cause." Seventy-six feet tall, the memorial features a granite base with life-size statues of four Confederate generals, one at each corner; from this substantial foundation rises a shaft of Italian marble crowned by a statue of one of the few enlisted men so honored. Sculpted from life, this figure, wearing a kepi and leaning on his rifle, is said to be the spitting image of Berry Benson, whom some sources identify as an Augustan but who was actually born on the South Carolina side of the river in the now-defunct town of Hamburg. Why was he the choice for such an honored role? It might be argued that Benson's extraordinary wartime adventures merited this commemoration. At the age of 17, Berry Greenwood Benson enlisted in the First South Carolina Volunteer Regiment - he and his 15-year-old brother Blackwood joined up in Charleston just after our state seceded from the Union in December of 1860 - and he witnessed the surrender of Fort Sumter in April of 1861 before he followed his regiment to Virginia. In 1863, during the Battle of Chancellorsville, Benson was wounded in the leg by a minie ball; in 1864, he was captured at Spotsylvania but subsequently escaped two Yankee prisons, the first at Point Lookout in Maryland and the second in Elmyra, New York - he joined a group of prisoners at the latter facility who escaped by digging a 60-foot tunnel. In 1865, he was once again back in Virginia as a sharpshooter, and it is said that neither he nor his younger brother surrendered at Appomattox; both walked home to the Augusta area. Benson was certainly on hand in 1878 for the dedication of the monument featuring his likeness on top - after the war, he settled in Augusta and worked as an accountant; other notables in attendance at the ceremony included the widow of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, one of the four generals depicted on the base. Another military commander so honored was, of course, Robert E. Lee, whom devotees of the "lost cause" saw as the embodiment of Southern chivalry. The remaining two generals, however, may not be well known beyond this area, and they are Thomas Read Rootes Cobb and William Henry Talbot Walker. Cobb, a native of Jefferson County, Ga., spent most of his adult life in Athens where he graduated from the University of Georgia and practiced law. He is credited with having published the only legal defense of slavery, an 1858 volume entitled "An Inquiry into the Law of Negro Slavery in the United States." When Georgia seceded from the Union in January of 1861, Cobb served in the Confederate Congress in Montgomery, Ala., but eventually organized his own military unit, Cobb's Legion, with himself as colonel. He blamed both President Davis and Gen. Lee for what he perceived to be hindrances to his military advancement, but he finally was promoted to the rank of brigadier- general just prior to his death at the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862. Given his political philosophy, the 2007 restoration of his home in Athens, Ga., was the focus of some controversy in the community. Walker was an Augusta native and a graduate of Richmond Academy and West Point. A career soldier, he fought in the Mexican War during which he was wounded multiple times. In fact, he survived so many gunshot wounds that his men nicknamed him "Shot Pouch" Walker. He provided active service in the Confederate Department of the West, fighting at Vicksburg and Chickamauga. In July of 1864, he was killed in the defense of Atlanta; and he is buried in the Walker Cemetery adjacent to the campus of Augusta State University. For more information on the "lost cause" and, in particular, Aiken monuments commemorating the Confederate dead, one can consult the relevant chapter in my book, "Circling the Savannah: Cultural Landmarks of the Central Savannah River Area." A Carolina Trustee Professor, Dr. Mack holds the G.L. Toole Chair at USCAiken.