Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Confederate Graves Found In New Mexico

Lot could be Confederate graveyard
The Associated Press 10/21/2008

SOCORRO — Civil War buffs say a rocky patch of vacant land likely holds hundreds of human remains in a long-abandoned cemetery, including the unmarked graves of 27 Confederate soldiers.

Ken Garrison, an officer with the New Mexico Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said if the abandoned cemetery can't be preserved, soldiers' remains should be exhumed and reburied "in a respectable location."

The land is owned by Mary Silva, who said it's among the few valuable possessions she hopes to leave to her nine children.

However, state law makes it nearly impossible for Silva or her eventual heirs to do anything with the land, officially designated as an "unmarked burial ground," or for Garrison to relocate the Confederate graves.

State officials have known about the abandoned cemetery since at least 1995, said Glenna Dean, a former state archaeologist who is now associate director of the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area.

Dean said the cemetery was likely used from 1853 to 1875 and was probably a former Presbyterian cemetery. Its exact boundaries are unknown.

The bodies, Garrison said, include 27 Confederate soldiers who died of wounds sustained in the Battle of Valverde, a Civil War skirmish thattook place on the nearby banks of the Rio Grande on Feb. 21, 1862.