Friday, April 4, 2008

April brings mystery tribute to NC Confederate grave

RALEIGH - Each April, a stranger creeps into Oakwood Cemetery and drapes a single gravestone with a black sash.

He lights a candle in tribute to a doomed Confederate hanged for firing a last-ditch shot at Raleigh's Yankee occupiers.

Chuck Gooch has spent 21 years as the cemetery's superintendent and hasn't any idea who leaves the sash on the tomb of the soldier known only as Lt. Walsh.

"We usually leave it up until it starts looking bad or the wind takes it down," he said.
After 20 years, the soldier's secret admirer remains a small-time legend among history buffs who like to guess at his identity. The guessing begins anew each April 13, the death date of the hotheaded Texan with no known first name.

One theory:

"They come down on the day he was hanged," said Charles Purser, a Garner retiree who makes a hobby of Civil War graves. "Then they go back to their houses and drink mint juleps."

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