Saturday, December 17, 2011


Fourteen soldiers, unknowns, share a common grave. They lay in a holler, tucked hard against the tree line in the northwest corner of the small cemetery. They have been lost to memories long past, and, save for a handful of people, completely forgotten. Even the congregants of the church that keeps this cemetery are unaware that there is a mass grave among the tombs. The spot is unmarked and is not shown on the cemetery map definitively, and the general location is seldom even seen let alone considered for a modern final resting place. These men, far from home, are rarely even remembered even on Memorial Day when thirty or forty U.S. Flags sprout among the headstones of the veterans from The American Civil War through the Vietnam War. No one really knows why these men are buried here, how they arrived or when exactly they were brought to this holler, and sadly it seems no one cares 150 years beyond the time they died.

They are soldiers that fought in the War of Southern Independence, The War Between the States or what other name you may wish to call the greatest tragedy this nation of ours has ever seen.

The church records were destroyed in a fire many years ago, and the congregants of 1862 and their descendents have long passed or moved away. It is said these men were buried here in the Spring of '62, and were wounded and sent North after the Battles at Forts Henry and Donelson. Or was it Shiloh? The Official Records shed no light on the matter, but does give us this:

SAINT LOUIS, February 19, 1862.
C. H. ELDRIDGE, Davenport, Iowa:
All wounded are sent to Cincinnati, Mound City, Evansville and Saint Louis.  
No distinction is made between States or between friends and foes.
It is simply a question of humanity.
Major-General. [1]

So we have a little evidence that these men were in the area but why they were buried here, in this place, is a mystery. The nearest port to this place is Evansville, Indiana, but why were they not buried there rather than this lonely corner of a place twenty miles away and three miles outside of the small town of Boonville? Perhaps it is because of the uniform they wore. These men were Confederate soldiers. Perhaps the little church, in the spirit of Christian charity willingly accepted these men and allowed them to rest among their own loved ones regardless of the army the soldiers belonged to. It is hard to say why. It is also possible that other Confederates lie in other small fields 'round about the river towns along the Ohio. The same would hold true for many a Yankee boy that sleep under the sod of churchyards all across the South, like these men down in that lonely holler, unknown, unmarked and largely forgotten.

I chose to remember these fourteen souls and try to tell their story as best as I can with the evidence available. It is not to glorify the cause for which they fought but a matter of respect. Respect for the dead. Respect for men who willingly sacrificed everything, even their very lives for their ideals, their homes, their families. I would so honor the men wearing the blue should they be the ones in that unmarked grave.

It is an effort to honor them as soldiers, American soldiers, that compels me to share their story, or at least a piece of it. They are unknown but to God, these men down in the holler, but they are not completely forgotten. Besides...

SAINT LOUIS, February 19, 1862.
D. K. GREEN, Salem, Ill.:
Sick and wounded have been sent to hospitals and cared for without distinction of States or counties, friends or foes. Humanity required this.
Major-General. [2]

Humanity indeed, and so noted.

1)War Of The Rebellion:Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 2, Vol. 3, Part 1, page 281

2)ibid. Bold lettering by this author.

1 comment:

  1. What an incredibly moving and ultimately tragic story. I am glad you have honored these forgotten souls, so that we may remember that there are still men whose sacrifices are unknown. I cannot imagine how awful it was for their families to not know what happened or where these men finally ended up. Great post, I look forward to much more!