Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Feb 14, 2012
- Central Pennsylvania
Maybe this photograph of men remembering this fallen soldier has an ID somewhere. I can't find it and we can't see what is written on a rough headboard. There's what looks to be a well trodden path leading into this field, what looks to be a camp far into a field across the road but we don't know where the farm may be. Maryland? Virginia? Pennsylvania?
And yes I realize there was no official Memorial Day in 1861. Everyday between those famous Aprils was Memorail Day.
Graves near City Point's hospital, unsure what year. Primitive paths bisect crowded row upon row upon row. Closest to the camera are a horrifying amount of unnamed graves, maybe a wooden board here and there. Perhaps a kind of key existed, wooden markers added later. Maybe not. You would like to stop by each one with a wreath and last goodbye anyway. We remember you, soldier.
Our family tragically is not unique. Men went to war, some never came home. It wasn't until reading of the bloody shambles clashing armies left in war's wake it was possible to understand why we have no graves to visit. They died and what was left of them buried where they fell. JPK is an unknown in New York's section of Gettysburg's National Cemetery, his brother Sam lies unmarked at Shiloh, another has no headstone in Richmond, Calvin. To see my grgrgrandmother's brother David Adams, killed near Iverson's Pit, you have to imagine who lay under the plethora of Unknowns under a Pennsylvania marker and David Steigerwalt's grave at Goose Creek is lost except for a description and small map another soldier made, now on display at Gettysburg College.
One of our more famous shots, I think at least identified as men of Kershaw's Brigade. There's a missing headboard, someone's husband or father or or brother or son may never have been named. I don't care what that uniform's color may be. Blue cloth rotted along with gray under the earth at Gettysburg. Death has no winner.
It may be posed for maximum effect and it works because this should get us. Judging by bare trees and dead leaves this was taken only a few months after Sudley Church witnessed Bull Run, soldiers' graves marked with sticks- just sticks- driven into the ground by overwhelmed burial crews. Were these graves ever marked or moved? Probably not, bones from this day visible when more men died here in the next battle of Bull Run.
Our Unknown memorial guarded by decades of the living represents men fallen in all our wars and is a sacredly solemn place. For Memorial Day 2019 it seemed at least a gesture to go stand by the graves of these long dead soldiers too. Lest we forget.
Wanted to post this before Monday, Memorial Day 2019 and ask that other unknowns be remembered, too. Any photo or record from anywhere, please post. If it's a contemporary photo of an unknown ACW grave, please only use one taken by yourself?