J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Not a Rebel After All

What a difference one letter makes! Recently, writer, historian, and radio personality Larry Weatherford, from Danville, Illinois, made an astounding discovery when he learned that a Confederate soldier wasn’t who everyone thought he was. For years, locals were told of the lone Rebel soldier who was buried among Union dead. But recent developments have changed all that.

After curiosity compelled him, Weatherford delved deeper into the mystery concerning John C. Durbin, a Virginia native who moved to Linn County, Iowa, and was believed to have fought for a Louisiana regiment during the Civil War. After the war ended, it was thought that Durbin returned north, and later died at the National Soldiers and Sailors Home in Danville, Illinois, nearly 110 years ago. Weatherford learned that a simple “typo” gave the misconception about Durbin’s loyalty. On his headstone, the letters “LA” instead of “IA” were carved. Whoever screwed up assumed that Durbin fought for the Confederacy, so he carved “Confederate States Army” underneath.

Weatherford investigated military records to learn that there was no John C. Durbin who fought with the 24th Louisiana. However, the name appeared in documents listing members of the 24th Iowa Infantry, Company H. Weatherford also turned up pension records, census reports, and rosters to verify his findings. As a result, John C. Durbin’s headstone was corrected last month.

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