|Sidney Manning's grave in Flomaton, Ala.|
One of the greatest soldiers to ever come out of Southwest Alabama was Sidney Manning, who lived most of his life in Flomaton, Ala. Manning received the Medal of Honor for his daring actions during World War I, and he was one of General Pershing’s Immortal Ten.
Manning died long before I was born, but I’ve always wanted to pay him my respects by making a personal visit to his grave. I put this trip on my bucket list several years ago and finally scratched it off the list on Saturday afternoon when my son and I visited Manning’s grave while on the way home from Brewton.
As many of you may know, Manning received the Medal of Honor for his actions near Breuvannes, France on July 28, 1918 when he was an Army corporal in Co. G of the 167th Infantry, which was part of the Army’s 42nd Division. What follows is the complete text from his Medal of Honor citation:
“When his platoon commander and platoon sergeant had both become casualties soon after the beginning of an assault on strongly fortified heights overlooking the Ourcq River, Cpl. Manning took command of his platoon, which was near the center of the attacking line. Though himself severely wounded, he led forward the 35 men remaining in the platoon and finally succeeded in gaining a foothold on the enemy's position, during which time he had received more wounds, and all but seven of his men had fallen. Directing the consolidation of the position, he held off a large body of the enemy only 50 yards away by fire from his automatic rifle. He declined to take cover until his line had been entirely consolidated with the line of the platoon on the front when he dragged himself to shelter, suffering from nine wounds in all parts of the body.”
John J. Pershing was the Army general who led American Expeditionary Forces to victory over Germany in World War I, and, as mentioned, Manning was such an all around bad dude that he was among listed among General Pershing’s “Immortal Ten,” that is the 10 men Pershing considered to be the war’s greatest heroes. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to obtain a list, in a reasonable amount of time, of the other nine men on this famous list.
If you’d like to visit Manning’s grave yourself, it’s not hard to find. Travel to Flomaton and take U.S. Highway 31 to the State Highway 113 intersection. Then turn north onto Highway 113 and travel about half a mile to Little Escambia Baptist Church, which is on the west side of the road at 445 State Highway 113. The cemetery is next door to the church.
Manning’s grave is very close to the southernmost entrance to the cemetery. The grave is on the front row and stands out because it’s marked with a large American flag. His headstone reads, “SIDNEY E. MANNING, MEDAL OF HONOR, CPL U.S. ARMY, WORLD WAR I, JULY 17, 1892 – DEC. 15, 1960.” The marble slab over his grade reads, “ALABAMA’S OWN – ONE OF GENERAL PERSHING’S IMMORTAL TEN – DEDICATORY MONUMENT IN FLOMATON LIONS PARK.”
In the end, how many of you have ever visited the grave of Sidney Manning? What did you think about it? Do you know of any other historic graves worth visiting? Let us know in the comments section below.