Thursday, July 19, 2012

Okolona, MS Remembers Confederate Veterans

Confederate Remembrances held Saturday
by JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal Djournal

Nicole Byrd places a wreath beside the headstone of 2nd Lt. William N. Cox as Cliff Richey stands by during a dedication ceremony at the Battle of Harrisburg National Park site in Tupelo on Saturday. (DESTE LEE | DAILY JOURNAL)slideshow

Rannie Gillentine sprays bleach on a row of headstones at the Okolona Confederate Cemetery on Saturday. (DESTE LEE | DAILY JOURNAL)slideshow
Saturday was a day of Civil War remembrance in Northeast Mississippi.

Volunteers with the Okolona Cemetery Restoration and Re-enactment Project began bleaching the 800 headstones of Confederate soldiers in the Okolona’s Confederate cemetery.

The group is preparing the cemetery for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Okolona, in February 2014. Martha Gordon, of the restoration committee, said when completed, there will be a flag flying for every state that has a soldier buried there.

The graveyard is home to many soldiers who were wounded or killed at the Battle of Shiloh and brought to the hospital in Okolona by train. Many of the soldiers’ identities are still unknown.

Also on Saturday, new headstones were placed on unmarked Confederate graves in Tupelo. The Sons of Confederate Veterans Harrisburg Camp No. 645 dedicated two headstones in the Battle of Harrisburg National Park to mark the 148th anniversary of the battle.

“I thank the men of Harrisburg Camp for placing these stones,” said Edwina Carpenter, director of Mississippi’s Final Stands Interpretive Center. “When a person gives all for his beliefs, he has recorded his name in the archives of heaven, it is right that we should remember.”

The two headstones are in memory of 1st Lt. John J. Stone, of Company H of the Coonewah Rifles 2nd Mississippi Infantry, and 2nd Lt. William N. Cox, of Company A of the 8th Mississippi Cavalry.

The two Confederate officers were buried in the Old Harrisburg Cemetery, on the grounds of the Battle of Harrisburg.

Stone was born in Alabama in 1811 and came to Mississippi around 1851. He enlisted in the Confederate Army at age 50 and retired the next year due to ailing health. Stone died in 1866.

Cox enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1963 and died in the Battle of Harrisburg in 1864 at age 28.

Kevin Thornton, communications officer for the Harrisburg Camp, said installing the headstones at the battlefield has been a project of theirs for 10 years.

A re-enactment of the battle at Old Town Creek, an encampment and a skirmish was slated for Saturday night on Mount Vernon Road, but it had to be canceled because of rain.