"The Gettysburg Dead" Come Home To Richmond Mothers, Widows And Orphans, 1872

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JPK Huson 1863

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This was a long running hope, to bring them home. What happened to the Confederate dead at Gettysburg? This, and Dr. Samuel Weaver, and mothers, sisters, wives - collectively ' Ladies ' of the South. It was not only Richmond. Weaver sent trains to many cities through the next years.


They came home to North and South Carolina mothers, too. And wives, fathers, sisters, brothers and the places living flesh marched from 9, 10 and 13 years before a wall of flame scorched Union ties.

I'm making a point of this because it has always bothered me, worrying about families whose loved ones did not come home, North and South. Our family has 4 men, sons, three of them husbands, two were fathers buried on battlefields or far, far away. 150 years later it would still matter whether or not they were identified. Three are not despite knowing where they were when they fell. It's quite wonderful these got home. It must have been beyond painful, waiting so long. 1871. You can understand there were confusions. This was too long.

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One long dead newspaper reporter form the 1870's has entitled a piece ' Memorial Day'. Before we all had bleacher seats here, refighting causes men who were soldiers never came home from a place in Pennsylvania called ' Gettysburg '. An horrific battle had been fought there, Blue and Gray. Baked Pennsylvania soil had been hacked and coaxed and convinced to accept the bodies of men who died amongst such savage chaos their bones call to us beneath Adams County soil 150 years later. Some.

While Soldier's National Cemetery was uniting Union dead, the incredible process was watched, heart in collective throat by families in the South. Samuel Weaver, meticulous, compassionate beyond all belief and Basil Biggs painstakingly recovered and identified when it was possible over 3,000 Union fallen. On farms and in treed copses, along lanes and in farmyards, in long trenches in meadows Confederate dead lay far from grieving families. Weaver was receptive to Southern pleas but was killed himself, ending his reign of compassion here on earth.

His son was also named Samuel Weaver. By 1870 he was a medical doctor. Southern mothers still had no sons to bury. Dr. Samuel Weaver son of Samuel Weaver, gave them their sons back. The Gettysburg dead came home.

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There are accounts of several in Richmond and burials all over the South. Somewhere exists photos of one of these.

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There were so many sent to Richmond, Hollywood has a ' Gettysburg ' section. This is the memorial there.

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An article from South Carolina is next.

 

JPK Huson 1863

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CHARLESTON DAILY NEWS 1871

It is the funeral denied them a decade earlier. " Is it strange we weep? " was a line from the poem here. Some threw politics in with these burials. I don't know. Observing how the war shattered families of the North too, I'd have to say that was an Also-Ran.

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Really good Richmond article next.
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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I'm still looking for photographs in any of these cities, where " Gettysburg Dead ", was a huge, long awaited and extremely emotional event across each state. You just know photographers would have helped mark these processions and ceremonies. Tracking down the photos or recognizing them if found might take some doing- a wagon festooned with flowers might be mistaken for something else with an 1871, 1872 or 1873 date.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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If this doesn't wring tears from a reader a spike through the head will not, either. It's an awful story. I was also incorrect in another thread- it transpires Weaver provided names, thankfully.

A flag is certainly part of this procession It would be wonderful if the fallen soldiers, not the flag remained the main topic, however. That is not snark or a position on my part- it's merely asking that The Gettysburg Dead be allowed to be fallen soldiers, and respected as such.

Pickett, Lane, Imboden- the men who came to escort their fallen men give you chills.

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*** Over 3,000 were recovered, although I have no more knowledge than what I've read. The 700 or so spoken of in this article may have been the men Weaver had been able to recover up until this date?
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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One article states " We know what is coming; IT IS THE CORTEGE OF THE GETTYSBURG DEAD "

Words written 150 years ago lay unread, like the proverbial tree fallen with or without noise in the woods- until we go find them and give them importance again. These matter so very much.

Think, please. Tourists arrived on the battlefield beginning July 5th, 1863. The unspeakable David McCaughey organized and held an officer's only reunion in 1869, having built a hotel in which to house them. Curious feet trampled veritable sacred ground, men in gray sleeping a few inches beneath. Lost in battle and to those desperate for even a grave, denied recognition these soldiers were there much less the ability to mourn them.

R.E. Lee was certainly instrumental in the efforts.
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JPK Huson 1863

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From what I understand most of the Confederate dead have been removed from Gettysburg to cemeteries in the South in the 1870's....but as many as 700-800 of them are believed to be still interred scattered all over the battlefield.

Yes, it genuinely is sacred ground. Those still sleeping there, Union and Confederate should be allowed to rest in peace now after all these years. I'm sure many know where they rest and protect their right to not be disturbed. Pretty sure, if I ever came across a 150 year old grave, would not feel it my business to call attention to it.

The numbers were staggering post battle though. It did seem to me, as an indication our country was healing a divided past, the government would have stepped in. Fundraising was long, frustrating and caused yet more division, this time within the South.
 
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JohnW.

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Yes, it genuinely is sacred ground. Those still sleeping there, Union and Confederate should be allowed to rest in peace now after all these years. I'm sure many know where they rest and protect their right to not be disturbed. Pretty sure, if I ever came across a 150 year old grave, would not feel it my business to call attention to it.

The numbers were staggering post battle though. It did seem to me, as an indication our country was healing a divided past, the government would have stepped in. Fundraising was long, frustrating and caused yet more division, this time within the South.
I feel the same way...I think if I happened upon a grave in my exploration of the battlefield (and I like to trek to some pretty remote places well off the "beaten path") I would just leave it in peace. Whoever is resting there has earned the quiet and solitude.
 

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The number cited in the above article mentions some 3400 being returned from the Gettysburg battlefield. Is that an accurate figure for the number of Confederate soldiers killed there? I have seen books where the authors have that figure being under 3,000 and if the reinterred figure is correct, their number cannot be that low.
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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Came across this ages ago. The more I looked into it the more heart rending it became. The families had been asking " What about our dead, our sons and fathers, brothers and sweethearts " since 1863. It was agonizing. These men had been earmarked, for certain. Whereabouts had been painstakingly marked by Dr. Weaver's father, hired to find Union Dead and have them disinterred to the new national cemetery. When he found Confederate dead, they stayed found too.

The thing is, this was huge at he time, HUGE. The sad, somber processions which met the boats down at Rocketts included notables of the day along with s gajillion citizens seeking to honor the fallen. All the papers welcomed heros home, albeit as fallen heros.

Sadly, it was impossible telling who was who in 1870. It was attempted and failed, Weaver's method being a long stick which could reach into pockets for identifying objects. Few carried them. Resources ran out. I've seen it sneered at these men were buried in a mass grave at Hollywood but there simply was no money to give them separate graves. All was used to bring them home.

There does seem to be some bewilderment on what happened to our fallen Confederate men at Gettysburg, and why they were not given proper burials. They were,only not at Gettysburg. Any soldiers left sleeping beneath the battlefield have company- Union men also not discovered. There was no neglect reserved for them solely.
 
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