Sunday, April 19, 2009

Confederate Veterans Remembered In Virginia

Confederate soldiers remembered

Local chapter of Sons of Confederate Veterans unveils memorial to Confederate soldiers buried in unmarked Fredericksburg cemetery

Date published: 4/19/2009

Dan Boyette of North Carolina takes pride in his Southern heritage.

But he learned only recently that a relative on his father's side fought in the Civil War.

His great-great-uncle William S. Boyette died in Fredericksburg while serving the Confederacy in November 1861.

"He's the only one I can definitely trace to my lineage" on his father's side, said Boyette, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans' North Carolina Division. He said several Civil War soldiers were related to his mother.

Fredericksburg's chapter of the Confederate group unveiled a monument yesterday inscribed with the names of 51 Confederate soldiers, including Boyette's great-great-uncle. It's located at the corner of Barton and George streets, on the same grassy island as the Fredericksburg Area War Memorial.

The soldiers honored yesterday were buried on land now occupied by the Maury Commons condominiums.

The Fredericksburg City Council passed a resolution in 1861 to bury Confederate troops on the property, then a potter's field. The wooden posts marking the graves deteriorated long ago.

"Today, we will remember 51 soldiers buried near us who have been almost completely forgotten," Scott Boyd, chief of staff of the Sons of Confederate Veterans' Matthew Fontaine Maury Camp in Fredericksburg, said during the ceremony.

The local Confederate group raised more than $2,000 for the granite monument, which is topped with a bronze plaque bearing the soldiers' names.

About 40 people attended yesterday's event. It featured a Confederate color guard that fired a three-volley salute and played "Taps." Participants placed a brown hat and gray jacket, of the sort warn by Confederate soldiers, next to the memorial.

The soldiers being honored came from seven states--Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. They were buried from 1861 until 1862, and died of disease before the Battle of Fredericksburg, Boyd said.

The Rev. Alfred M. Randolph of St. George's Episcopal Church presided over their interments, he said.

Roy B. Perry Jr., the local SCV camp's 1st lieutenant commander, did much of the historical research into the unmarked cemetery.

The Fredericksburg Confederate Cemetery includes a plaque that honors the troops, Perry said, but it misspells some of their names.

The brand-new monument also gives each soldier's rank and company.

"It's the right thing to do," Perry said. "They deserve to be remembered."

It's unclear whether the soldiers' remains were ever moved to another site, Boyd said.

From old photographs of the graves, he said, it appears the soldiers were buried at least 12 to 18 inches deep.

Local historian Ruth Coder Fitzgerald wrote in The Free Lance-Star that before the football field was built at the old Maury School, "every time it rained, bones came out of the ground."

Boyette, who attended yesterday's event, said he learned about his family's connection to the monument about two weeks ago.

His great-great-uncle, a private, died at age 18.

Yesterday afternoon's ceremony meant a lot, Boyette said.

"It is emotional."
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402