Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Feb 14, 2012
- Central Pennsylvania
When S.G. Elliot et al created what we know now as ' The Elliot Map ', the team did not merely wander the battlefield haphazardly bumping into graves. Talk about futile. They had help from sources who knew where to find them. A local doctor had already marked 600 Confederate graves. What looks like rows of corn in this Peach Orchard section? Graves.
There will be a lack of information in this thread, so sorry! It's tough finding good information or at least pick through conflicting. Better lacking than misinformation. Including what seems most accurate over 2 days. It's a longish kind of story.
" The Gettysburg Dead " has a thread here, how men were brought home to the South after years spent buried on the battlefield. Spent a lot of time picking through accounts- The Weavers, father and son did wonderful work both marking Confederate graves and ( Weaver, junior ) exhuming them. Seems crazy not to have run into Dr. O'Neal.
Dr. O'Neal, judging by clothing around the time of the war, from yet another archived book. How many civilians rode a distance with Pettigrew? At least one.
In 1905 a Gettysburg paper printed an account by Dr. J.W.C. O'Neal of his battle. He'd come to Gettysburg in April, 1863, an unfortunate time to take up residence in Gettysburg, PA. He makes a statement about not being very popular but since he was the doctor for prisoners and almshouse residents, wrote this off as someone who was perhaps considered a curmudgeon. Kind people attend the unfortunate. His 1905 account does seem to soften the edges, where loyalty was concerned.
Talk about a bag of worms. Gee whiz. Transpires Dr. J.W.C. O'Neal was an unabashed Southern sympathizer who made no secret of supporting his home state, Virginia and the ' cause '. Can't tell if he was pro-slavery, seems likely. Stories vary in 2018. His story of the battle included meeting Pettigrew ( and a good chunk of the army ) while out seeing a patient, riding under their protection, being questioned and released as a member of the medical profession. His personal account names no one, others did. There seems to be a suspicion he willingly er, helped show them a few things.
Since John William Crapster O’Neal practiced in town until his death in 1913, that was a long time to be unpopular. The thing is, he attended wounded from both sides then was considered disloyal for marking 600 Confederate graves. IMO, after death a soldier is someone's son, brother, father or husband. Also IMO, seems pretty normal someone born in Virginia would be likely to take an interest in Southern soldiers as men- not enemies. You can find articles now insisting O'Neal had a part in ' The Gettysburg Dead ' only because he was pro-South. Not sure that fits. 600 Confederate graves does not a traitor make. I'm a little soft on the subject though. The human side of the war gets to me, families missing men North and South part of that. Four Union men in our family are buried hundreds of miles from home, as Unknowns or in unmarked graves. Pretty sure asphalt is over one. Family mourned them.
From O'Neal's home state, composed for the ceremony dedicated to men Weaver and O'Neal helped send home. It got political, but the ceremony was a tragic homecoming to families.
Samuel and Rufus Weaver escaped the accusation, marking and exhuming Southern men. Yes, Dr. Rufus was paid albeit not much. Money wasn't there. Will have to include information over days because O'Neal was an interesting guy. Unpaid, he receives no kudos for compassion- it's always tough discovering someone was not all bad or allll good. Most of us are a good mix, hopefully able to balance the scales before it's over.
June 1866, O’Neal published names and burial locations of 600 Confederates in the Gettysburg Compiler,. It was the impetus for relief groups in the South to begin raising money to bring men home. It's part of the story of T'he Gettysburg Dead', and an important part. This isn't pro-anything on my part- have always been irked by men motivated by tourist dollars ignoring Confederate graves. Hotels were built, reunions planned, relics sold while tourist unknowingly were escorted over unfinished tragedy.
More, later. These long stories can be convoluted, little hard to relate without making a confusing mess.