Raleigh NC ladies said they started Confederate Cemetery to keep soldiers' bodies from getting dumped in the street

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A. Roy

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Recently I visited the Confederate Cemetery here in Raleigh at Historic Oakwood Cemetery. The confederate section is on a hill across from the cemetery's office, near the front gates, at 701 Oakwood Ave., Raleigh NC 27601. According to one source, the Confederate Cemetery had a controversial beginning.

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The Confederate Cemetery here was used for the reinterment of Confederate dead, especially North Carolinians from various original sites, even as far away as Gettysburg and the National Cemetery at Arlington. The gathering of remains continued from the end of the war through the late 1800s. I've read in some places that the Confederate Cemetery holds 1,500 soldiers; however, the cemetery itself put the number at 1,388 as of 2010.

According to the History of the Ladies' Memorial Association of Wake County (pp. 7,8) , which organized and cared for the cemetery:

"When the Federal army came to Raleigh and took possession of Pettigrew Hospital ... our Confederate dead were peacefully sleeping in a beautiful lot near by. The Federal officer in command selected this place for the interment of their own dead, and sent word to the mayor of the City that the bodies must be removed, as they desired that spot for the burial of their own dead.

"Following this order came the threat that if the Confederate soldiers buried there were not removed in two days, their bodies would be thrown in the road."

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The history says land was donated by landowner Henry Mordecai to create a cemetery, and soldiers' remains were quickly removed from the Rock Quarry area to the new location, now at Oakwood.

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The Confederate Cemetery is known as the resting place of Lt. Robert Walsh, 11th Texas Cavalry, known by some as "Raleigh's lone defender" and "the only casualty of the Battle of Raleigh." ("But there was no Battle of Raleigh!" said one astonished visitor to a group of locals visiting the grave. They smiled and said, "For Robert Walsh there was.")

Early in the day on 13 April 1865, Federal forces under Gen. Judson Kilpatrick entered Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina, which had been surrendered. Gen. Joseph Wheeler's Confederate cavalry had left the city, but Walsh remained behind. As Kilpatrick's forces came down Fayetteville Street, Walsh placed himself at the head of the street and emptied his pistol at them. U.S. cavalrymen captured him, and Kilpatrick ordered him to be hanged at once.

Roy B. -- 22 October 2019
 

DaveBrt

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Recently I visited the Confederate Cemetery here in Raleigh at Historic Oakwood Cemetery. The confederate section is on a hill across from the cemetery's office, near the front gates, at 701 Oakwood Ave., Raleigh NC 27601. According to one source, the Confederate Cemetery had a controversial beginning.

View attachment 330790The Confederate Cemetery here was used for the reinterment of Confederate dead, especially North Carolinians from various original sites, even as far away as Gettysburg and the National Cemetery at Arlington. The gathering of remains continued from the end of the war through the late 1800s. I've read in some places that the Confederate Cemetery holds 1,500 soldiers; however, the cemetery itself put the number at 1,388 as of 2010.

According to the History of the Ladies' Memorial Association of Wake County (pp. 7,8) , which organized and cared for the cemetery:

"When the Federal army came to Raleigh and took possession of Pettigrew Hospital ... our Confederate dead were peacefully sleeping in a beautiful lot near by. The Federal officer in command selected this place for the interment of their own dead, and sent word to the mayor of the City that the bodies must be removed, as they desired that spot for the burial of their own dead.

"Following this order came the threat that if the Confederate soldiers buried there were not removed in two days, their bodies would be thrown in the road."

View attachment 330792


View attachment 330793


The history says land was donated by landowner Henry Mordecai to create a cemetery, and soldiers' remains were quickly removed from the Rock Quarry area to the new location, now at Oakwood.

View attachment 330791The Confederate Cemetery is known as the resting place of Lt. Robert Walsh, 11th Texas Cavalry, known by some as "Raleigh's lone defender" and "the only casualty of the Battle of Raleigh." ("But there was no Battle of Raleigh!" said one astonished visitor to a group of locals visiting the grave. They smiled and said, "For Robert Walsh there was.")

Early in the day on 13 April 1865, Federal forces under Gen. Judson Kilpatrick entered Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina, which had been surrendered. Gen. Joseph Wheeler's Confederate cavalry had left the city, but Walsh remained behind. As Kilpatrick's forces came down Fayetteville Street, Walsh placed himself at the head of the street and emptied his pistol at them. U.S. cavalrymen captured him, and Kilpatrick ordered him to be hanged at once.

Roy B. -- 22 October 2019
I'm not familiar with Henry Mordecai, but George W. Mordecai was a very wealthy man in Raleigh and one of the Directors of the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad before and during the war.
 

A. Roy

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I'm not familiar with Henry Mordecai, but George W. Mordecai was a very wealthy man in Raleigh and one of the Directors of the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad before and during the war.
That's all the same family. I think George W. Mordecai was uncle to Henry Mordecai, mentioned as patron of the cemetery. The Mordecai's owned one of the principal plantations in the Raleigh area. Here's a link to a family history:

https://www.raleighnc.gov/content/ParksRec/Documents/Parks/Mordecai/MordecaiFamilyHistory.pdf

Interestingly, the Raleigh branch of the family pronounce their surname "mor-de-kee."

Roy B.
 
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Recently I visited the Confederate Cemetery here in Raleigh at Historic Oakwood Cemetery. The confederate section is on a hill across from the cemetery's office, near the front gates, at 701 Oakwood Ave., Raleigh NC 27601. According to one source, the Confederate Cemetery had a controversial beginning.

View attachment 330790The Confederate Cemetery here was used for the reinterment of Confederate dead, especially North Carolinians from various original sites, even as far away as Gettysburg and the National Cemetery at Arlington. The gathering of remains continued from the end of the war through the late 1800s. I've read in some places that the Confederate Cemetery holds 1,500 soldiers; however, the cemetery itself put the number at 1,388 as of 2010.

According to the History of the Ladies' Memorial Association of Wake County (pp. 7,8) , which organized and cared for the cemetery:

"When the Federal army came to Raleigh and took possession of Pettigrew Hospital ... our Confederate dead were peacefully sleeping in a beautiful lot near by. The Federal officer in command selected this place for the interment of their own dead, and sent word to the mayor of the City that the bodies must be removed, as they desired that spot for the burial of their own dead.

"Following this order came the threat that if the Confederate soldiers buried there were not removed in two days, their bodies would be thrown in the road."

View attachment 330792


View attachment 330793


The history says land was donated by landowner Henry Mordecai to create a cemetery, and soldiers' remains were quickly removed from the Rock Quarry area to the new location, now at Oakwood.

View attachment 330791The Confederate Cemetery is known as the resting place of Lt. Robert Walsh, 11th Texas Cavalry, known by some as "Raleigh's lone defender" and "the only casualty of the Battle of Raleigh." ("But there was no Battle of Raleigh!" said one astonished visitor to a group of locals visiting the grave. They smiled and said, "For Robert Walsh there was.")

Early in the day on 13 April 1865, Federal forces under Gen. Judson Kilpatrick entered Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina, which had been surrendered. Gen. Joseph Wheeler's Confederate cavalry had left the city, but Walsh remained behind. As Kilpatrick's forces came down Fayetteville Street, Walsh placed himself at the head of the street and emptied his pistol at them. U.S. cavalrymen captured him, and Kilpatrick ordered him to be hanged at once.

Roy B. -- 22 October 2019
Great write up Roy B.
 

wardniner

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That's all the same family. I think George W. Mordecai was uncle to Henry Mordecai, mentioned as patron of the cemetery. The Mordecai's owned one of the principal plantations in the Raleigh area. Here's a link to a family history:

https://www.raleighnc.gov/content/ParksRec/Documents/Parks/Mordecai/MordecaiFamilyHistory.pdf

Interestingly, the Raleigh branch of the family pronounce their surname "mor-de-kee."

Roy B.
I absolutely love how Southerners pronounce their names any way they please. In my family (and all over SC), Geiger is pronounced “Gigguh.”
In SC the beautiful name Marjoribanks is pronounced Marshbanks. And the surname Huger, as in Huger St in downtown Columbia, is pronounced Yoogee. In GA the town of Senoia (where the Walking Dead is filmed) is pronounced Sinnoy, and Cairo is Karo. 😂
These are but a few examples.
 
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wardniner

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I have a GG uncle buried there. Edit: whoops, I misspoke. Uncle is buried in Richmond.
I was recently looking for the resting place of my GGG Granddad who died at Dallas, and I was reading every old paper on genealogy bank containing the phrase “Marietta Confederate Cemetery” and it’s so inspiring what those ladies did, especially given the fact that their own homes and town were still smoldering. It’s very sad when they beg over and over for more funds to go and collect just a few more bodies to bring back.
They had concerts to raise money, but ultimately it was only enough to bring back 3000 men. There’s a beautiful statue to the women in the cemetery (the “soul of the confederacy”) and I wish I’d taken a pic. MCC and the adjacent Marietta National Cemetery where the Union soldiers rest are just beautiful, peaceful places.
Great post, thanks!
 
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A. Roy

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I absolutely love how Southerners pronounce their names any way they please. In my family (and all over SC), Geiger is pronounced “Gigguh.”
That's funny. Yes, we southerners have our peculiarities! However, the odd pronunciation for the Raleigh Mordecais was an intentional change made by Moses Mordecai, a Raleigh attorney and father of Henry. Moses came from a well-known Jewish family in Warrenton, but he became alienated from his family when he married a non-Jewish woman, Peggy Lane of Raleigh (wealthy folks, the Lanes). The marriage was so controversial that Moses decided to change his surname. But apparently he didn't want to go so far as to change the spelling, so he just changed the pronunciation to "mor-de-kee"!

That's supposed to be an authoritative account: I learned it when I recently visited the Mordecai historic park in Raleigh. (Also very interesting. The Mordecai home still sits on the same location as when the plantation was operating before the CW.)

Roy B.
 
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A. Roy

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I have a GG uncle buried there. Edit: whoops, I misspoke. Uncle is buried in Richmond.
I was recently looking for the resting place of my GGG Granddad who died at Dallas, and I was reading every old paper on genealogy bank containing the phrase “Marietta Confederate Cemetery” and it’s so inspiring what those ladies did, especially given the fact that their own homes and town were still smoldering. It’s very sad when they beg over and over for more funds to go and collect just a few more bodies to bring back.
They had concerts to raise money, but ultimately it was only enough to bring back 3000 men. There’s a beautiful statue to the women in the cemetery (the “soul of the confederacy”) and I wish I’d taken a pic. MCC and the adjacent Marietta National Cemetery where the Union soldiers rest are just beautiful, peaceful places.
Great post, thanks!
Wow, interesting to hear about that -- thanks! So I guess the Raleigh ladies weren't the only ones to do stuff like that.

Roy B.
 
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wardniner

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If I’m not mistaken, that’s the basic story of almost every Confederate buried in a cemetery far from home. Ladies would raise funds to retrieve as many bodies as they could from nearby battlefields and place them on donated property. Unfortunately most of them are unknowns. There’s a guy in GA who took it upon himself to go through the interment records at MCC and match the initials or whatever was on the record to names from rosters with casualties from nearby battles and he was able to ID quite a few unknowns. 👍🏻
 
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A. Roy

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does anyone know the name of the Yankee who made the edit to have the Confederate bodies moved? Rather a unnecessary and inflammatory action!
Pretty extreme, right? I should mention that the History of the Ladies' Memorial Association of Wake County is the only reference I have found that makes that claim about the Federal officer. I'm planning more research about the history of Oakwood Cemetery, and hope to find other sources that can confirm or negate the story.

I wonder whether the Reconstruction-era climate might have been poisonous enough for a U.S. officer to make such a callous and insulting demand.

Roy B.
 

John Hartwell

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Early in 1867, the following appears in a number of Southern newspapers (this one from the Newbern Journal, of 27 February):
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Most of the papers headline it as "Curious." If it is true, it certainly is a curiously irrational (not to mention stupid) action on the part of the occupying "Yankees." Some kind of an "official" documentation is needed, one way or the other.
 
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wardniner

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In my opinion, it’s silly in many ways. In Marietta, the ladies were apparently absolutely against having the Confederate dead in the same cemetery as the union dead. But it’s my understanding that in Gettysburg, the reverse was true.
I wish my GGG could’ve been retrieved from the battlefield at Dallas, and had a decent stone where we could visit and lay flowers, but having stood there, I can’t think of a more beautiful place to rest.
(By which I mean - the battlefield at Dallas is absolutely peaceful and wooded and a good place to be buried.)
 

nc native

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I was out there this past Saturday helping out with a lantern walk event that the SCV puts on every year right around Halloween and I can attest Oakwood is worth a visit if you are interested in Civil War history. There are four Confederate generals buried there - George B. Anderson, Robert Hoke, William Cox and Thomas Toon. Henry Burgwyn, the boy colonel of the 26th N.C. Infantry is also buried there along with other Confederate officers. Thomas Bragg, the first Attorney General of the Confederacy and brother of Braxton Bragg is also laid to rest there. There are also a couple of Union soldiers who are at rest among the Confederate dead who were mistakenly brought back from Gettysburg when bodies were brought back after the Civil War. There is a soldier from the 140th New York and one from the 1st Minnesota Sharpshooters who are buried in the Confederate portion of the cemetery.

I have a Confederate ancestor buried there too. Pvt. Nathaniel Jean of the 47th N.C. Infantry died of disease at Camp Mangum in Raleigh in 1862 and has a resting place among the Confederates at Oakwood. He is not in my signature with my other Confederate ancestors due to lack of space.
 
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