J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “soldier”

A Man With a Big Heart

I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas! The following is a story about a remarkable man. During this holiday season, let’s all make an effort to show others love and compassion, just as he did.

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A Soldier’s Christmas Gift

By Calvin E. Johnson, Jr., freelance writer, author of the book When America Stood for God, Family and Country, and member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (cjohnson1861@bellsouth.net)

 

This is a True Christmas Story

Christmas is a wonderful time to celebrate with family, friends and supper at Grandma’s house. Grandpa will gather the children around the fireplace and tell them the story of Jesus Christ who was born on Christmas Day while Grandma makes gingerbread cookies and Daddy brings the Christmas tree in the family room for decorating. Mamma as always will lead us in the singing of ‘Silent Night—Holy Night’ as the Star of Bethlehem is placed on top of the tree.

90 years ago….

During the year 1919, one year after the end of World War I, the people of Atlanta, Georgia were celebrating the Christmas Season. Many people attended Church or Synagogue and gave thanks to God for his many blessings. Folks, while shopping, were uplifted by sweet sounds of Christmas music played by the Salvation Army Band. There was a friendly and charitable atmosphere during this time of the year.

There were, however, some who were not as fortunate!

The aging veterans, in the Confederate Soldier’s Home, were proud men who had braved many a battle in the 1860s. One of these men was former Captain Thomas Yopp who saw such battles as that of Fredericksburg where a cannon shell burst knocked him unconscious.

The man who stayed with him until he recovered was his servant who had also joined the 14th Georgia Regiment, Company H. Bill Yopp was more than a servant; he and Thomas Yopp were friends who hunted and fished together.

Bill Yopp, a Black Confederate, was sympathetic to the men of Atlanta’s soldiers’ home who had been his compatriots in arms over fifty years earlier.

During the War Between the States, 1861-1865, Bill Yopp was nicknamed “Ten Cent Bill” because of the money he made shining shoes. He did this for the soldiers at a dime a shine and ended up with more money than most of his comrades. These men, also, cared for him when he was sick.

During the Christmas of 1919, Bill wanted to pay back the kindness that was shown to him. He caught a train from Atlanta to Macon, where he was offered help from the editor of a local newspaper [The Macon Telegraph]. He then caught a train to Savannah to raise Christmas money for the old veterans. Bill met many generous people on his trip.

Just weeks before the Christmas of 1919, he had raised the money and Georgia’s Governor Hugh Dorsey helped him distribute envelopes of three dollars to each veteran. That was a lot of money in those days.

The old Confederates were speechless. Tears were shed because of Bill Yopp’s good heart and kind deed. Many of these men had little or nothing. Bill was invited to come into the home’s Chapel and say a few words.

Bill Yopp was later presented a medal of appreciation for his support of the old soldiers and also voted in as a resident of the Confederate Soldier’s Home.

Bill died on June 3, 1936, the 128th birthday of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. He was buried at Marietta, Georgia’s Confederate Cemetery with his compatriots.

The Confederate Soldier’s Home was located at 401 Confederate Ave. in Atlanta, Georgia.

Christmas is about love, forgiveness, old friends, family and the Child who became a savior.

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The source of information for this story came from the book, entitled: Bill Yopp “Ten Cent Bill” Narrative of a Slave! This book was written in 1969 by Charles W. Hampton.

 

Bill

William H. “Ten-Cent Bill” Yopp; Company H of the 14th Georgia

Residence: Laurens County, GA
Enlisted on 7/9/1861 as a Drummer-Colored. On 7/9/1861 he mustered into “H” Co. GA 14th Infantry. He was surrendered on 4/9/1865 at Appomattox Court House, VA.

After the war, now a free man, he returned to the Yopp plantation in Georgia and worked there until 1870. He then secured a job as bell boy at the Brown House in Macon. From there he went to New York, California, Europe, and then worked as a porter on the private car of the President of the Delaware and Hudson Railway.

In his later years he returned to Georgia to find his former master, Captain T. M. Yopp, ready to be enrolled in the Confederate Soldier’s Home in Atlanta. Bill was a frequent visitor to the home, not only to see his former master but the other Confederate veterans

as well. At Christmas, with the help of the Macon Telegraph, he raised enough money to give each resident in the home $3.

In 1920, Bill wrote a book entitled “Bill Yopp, ‘Ten-Cent’ Bill.” The book was about his exploits before, during, and after the war. The book sold for 15 cents a copy, or $1.50 for a dozen. Proceeds were shared by Bill and the Confederate Soldier’s Home.

The Confederate veterans were so appreciative of Bill’s help that they took up a collection and awarded him a medal. The board of trustees voted to allow Bill to stay at the Home for as long as he lived. He was one of the last remaining veterans in the Home when it closed its doors in the 1940’s. Bill was also a member of the Atlanta U.C.V. Camp.

1880 United States Federal Census:

Name: William H. Yopp, Home in 1880: Albany, Albany, New York, Age: 34, Estimated birth year: abt 1846
Birthplace: Georgia, Relation to head-of-household:Self (Head), Spouse’s name: Mary J., Occupation:Waite,

Marital Status: Married, Race: Black, Gender: Male Household Members:, William H. Yopp 34, Mary J. Yopp 34, Phoebe Woods 75, Forester E. Alford 20

Sources:
Census Source: Dainah Chandler

http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?C&125020 http://www.37thtexas.org/html/HistRef.html

Burial:
Marietta Confederate Cemetery, Marietta Cobb County, Georgia, USA

Bill's grave

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, President Jefferson Davis Chapter Military Order of the Stars and Bars, Volume 43, Issue No. 12, December 2019)

 

 

Another Christmas Story From the Past

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A SOLDIER’S CHRISTMAS…

Christmas (December 25, 1864) came while we were fighting famine within and Grant without our lines. To meet either was a serious problem. The Southern people from their earliest history had observed Christmas as the great holiday season of the year. It was the time of times, the longed-for period of universal and innocent, but almost boundless jollification among young and old…

 

The holiday, however, on Hatcher’s Run, near Petersburg, was joyless enough for the most misanthropic. The one worn-out railroad running to the far South could not bring to us half enough necessary supplies; and even if it could have transported Christmas boxes of good things, the people at home were too depleted to send them. They had already impoverished themselves to help their struggling Government, and large areas of our territory had been made desolate by the ravages of marching armies.

The brave fellows at the front, however, knew that their friends at home would gladly send them the last pound of sugar in the pantry, and the last turkey or chicken from the barnyard. So, they facetiously wished each other “Merry Christmas!” as they dined on their wretched fare. There was no complaining, no repining, for they knew their exhausted country was doing all it could for them.

Source: REMINISCENCES OF THE CIVIL WAR, By Gen. John B. Gordon, 1904.

Defending the Heritage

Photo: “Confederate Pickets in the Snow” by Don Troiani

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452, Sons of Confederate Veterans, President Jefferson Davis Chapter Military Order of the Stars and Bars, Volume 43, Issue No. 12, Dec. 2019 ed.)

 

 

Stories from Christmases Past

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. There is so much electricity in the air. Everyone is excited and friendly. Of course, here in Colorado, people are friendly most all the time, but Christmas is special. What other time of year can you listen to decades, even centuries old songs, and sing along? What other time of year can you see living nativities, Santa Clauses galore, and so many decorations, presents and treats? And what other time of year, other than possibly the Fourth of July, can you see so many colorful lights?

I love Christmas, but most of all, I love what it represents: faith, hope and love. Please keep our military personnel in your prayers, as well as those who have lost loved ones this time of year.

The following is an article written by a Confederate soldier at Christmas. It must have been, and I’m sure, still is, very difficult to be away from home during the holidays.

Christmas

Diary Of Captain Robert Emory Park, of Twelfth Alabama Regiment

Excerpts from his diary:

“December 25th, Christmas Day — How keenly and vividly home recollections come to my mind today! I see the huge baked turkey, the fat barbecued pig, delicious oysters, pound and fruit cakes, numerous goblets of eggnog and syllabub, etc., etc., on my beloved mother’s hospitable table. My brothers and sisters are sitting around it as of yore, and my dear fond mother, with warmest love and pride beaming from her still handsome blue eyes, now somewhat dimmed by approaching age, sits at one end bountifully helping each plate to a share of the well cooked eatables before her. How happy I would be if I were with them! I can but repeat the words of the familiar song —

 

“Do they miss me at home, do they miss me?

‘Twould be an assurance most dear
To know that some loved one was saying,

Today I wish he were here.”

Those touching words, too, of “Home, Sweet Home” flash before my memory, and I cannot restrain the tears that rush to my eyes. Over three months have passed since I have heard from home and mother. What changes may have occurred since my capture, the 19th of September! Two of my brothers are members of the First Georgia reserves, now guarding the 30,000 Yankee prisoners at Andersonville — one is major, and the other, a youth of sixteen years, is one of Captain Wirz’s sergeants. These two are no doubt absent from the annual home reunion. Others may be too. I hope and feel that my brothers are civil and kind to the Yankees they are guarding. They are too brave to act otherwise. My poor prison dinner was in sad contrast with my Christmas dinners at home. It consisted of beef soup, a small piece of pickled beef, some rice and a slice of loaf bread. Lastly, to our astonishment, about three mouthsful each of bread pudding, not very sweet, were handed us.

December 26th, 27th and 28th — I am able to get about on my crutches, but still feel the effects of my severe fall. Major Hanvey, who sleeps in a small room above mine, is quite sick. Last night I sat up alone with him until he went to sleep, long after midnight. He was suffering from a high fever and was delirious. His thoughts were of his wife and little daughter, in far off Georgia, and he spoke of them in the tenderest, fondest manner. I fear he will never see his loved ones again.

December 29th, 30th and 31st — The last days of eventful, never to be forgotten 1864. All hope of a speedy exchange is now dying within us. The prospect is exceedingly gloomy. Savannah has been captured by Sherman, and Hood defeated in Tennessee. I am not at all despondent however, and believe the Confederate States will be successful and independent yet. It is rumored we are to be removed in a day or two to Old Capitol Prison, Washington city. Our surgeon confirms the report. Point Lookout will be left with no regrets.

Southern Historical Society Papers
Vol. II. Richmond. Va. November. 1876. No.5

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, President Jefferson Davis Chapter of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars, December 2019 ed., Volume 43, Issue No. 12)

 

Reenactment Saved

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As of last week, it seemed that a staple in the Civil War reenacting world, the annual Battle of Gettysburg reenactment, had been cancelled next year. The organization that has been sponsoring the event, the Gettysburg Anniversary Committee (GAC), posted on their website:

The Gettysburg Anniversary Committee (GAC) would like to extend their gratitude and appreciation to all the reenactors, visitors, and local staff that have participated in the Annual Gettysburg Civil War Battle Reenactments for the past 25 years; making those dusty old history books come alive. We are honored to have hosted over 100,000 reenactors, 500,000 visitors, and provided well over 1000 community staff positions. GAC has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to many worthy community organizations and supported our community economically. At this time, GAC does not anticipate organizing or hosting a 157th Reenactment.  Please refer to Destination Gettysburg’s Event Schedule for a wide array of historical, cultural and entertaining events in the Gettysburg and Adams County area throughout the year.”

How sad to end a well-participated event after doing it for 25 years. According to GAC’s Operations Manager, Randy Phiel, reeanactors’ aging demographic and varied visitor interest indicates “the hobby is declining somewhat.” He also said reenactments are most successful every five years, so spreading them out may build anticipation and visitor interest.

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Fortunately, someone has come to the rescue. According to The Washington Times, a veteran Civil War reactor from Pennsylvania plans to take over the 2020 reenactment next July. Dustin Heisey, who has been participating in reenactments since he was 14 years old, says he wants to keep the tradition alive.

“My primary focus is, let’s bring honor back into our hobby and, we’re portraying these men who sacrificed so much for their country, I want them to be remembered and I think it should be done every year,” Heisey told The (Hanover) Evening Sun.

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https://gettysburgreenactment.com

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/sep/8/gettysburg-reenactment-saved-reenactor-after-organ/

 

More on Old Douglas

Women of the Confederacy (Pt. 6)

Loreta Janeta Valazquez

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Loreta Janeta Velazquez (Harry T. Buford)  

Library of Congress 

 

Loreta Janeta Velazquez – Fact or Fiction? 

A spy … 

A civilian pretending to be a soldier … 

A widow four times 

All of these phrases describe one of the most fascinating, thrill-seeking characters of the Civil War. Because she was a woman, Loreta Janeta Valezquez was able to fool her contemporaries while supporting the Confederate cause she so adamantly believed in. 

 Born to a wealthy Cuban family on June 26, 1842, her mother was French-American, and her father, a Spanish government official, owned plantations in Mexico and Cuba, but developed a strong hatred for the U.S. government when he lost an inherited ranch in the Mexican War. In 1849, Loreta was sent to stay with an aunt in New Orleans, where she was taught English and French in addition to her native Spanish at Catholic schools. Her idol was Joan of Arc, and she wished to become just like her. When she was only fourteen, Loreta met a handsome Texas army officer named William, but because her parents opposed their union, they eloped in 1856. The newlyweds traveled around to various army posts until, four years later, when Loreta was eighteen, they were in St. Louis mourning the deaths of their three children. When the Civil War broke out, she insisted that her husband join the Confederacy, and begged to join with him, but he disallowed it, so she simply waited for him to leave. She disguised herself in one of two uniforms she had tailored in Memphis, donned a wig and fake moustache, bound her breasts, and padded the sleeves of her uniform, transforming into Harry T. Buford. Self-appointing herself as a lieutenant, she fooled fellow officers and soldiers by walking with a masculine gait, perfecting the art of spitting, and smoking cigars. She immediately went to Arkansas, and in four days raised a battalion, the Arkansas Grays, consisting of 236 men. She then sent them to her husband in Pensacola, Florida, where she turned them over to his command. William’s astonishment was short-lived, however, because a few days later, he was accidentally killed while showing his troops how to use their weapons. 

The bereaved Loreta turned his battalion over to a friend, and soon after, searched for military adventure on the front, finding it at the First Battle of Manassas, where she observed her comrades. “The supreme moment of my life had arrived, and all the glorious aspirations of my romantic girlhood were on the point of realization. I was elated beyond measure, although cool-headed enough … Fear was a word I did not know the meaning of; and as I noted the ashy faces, and the trembling limbs of some of the men about me, I almost wished that I could feel a little fear, if only for the sake of sympathizing with the poor devils.” 

Soon, Loreta grew weary of camp life, so she borrowed a dress from a local farmer’s wife and made her way to Washington, D.C., where she was recruited as a Confederate spy. She claimed to have met Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton. When she returned to the South, she was rewarded for her services by being assigned to detective duty. Apparently, espionage didn’t offer enough excitement for her either, so she put on her disguise and traveled to Tennessee, where she fought in the siege of Fort Donelson until its surrender. Wounded in the foot, she escaped detection by fleeing to New Orleans, but was arrested while in uniform for suspicion of being a Union spy and impersonating a man. Once she was released, she enlisted again to escape the city, and immediately went back up to Tennessee. There, she found the battalion she had raised in Arkansas, so she joined them in the Battle of Shiloh on April 6-7, 1862. After the battle, she was wounded by a stray shell while she was on burial duty. Unfortunately, a doctor discovered her. Fleeing back down to New Orleans, she was there when Union General Benjamin F. Butler took control of the city in May 1862. Because she thought too many people were now aware of her true identity, she put away her uniform and traveled to Richmond, Virginia. 

Upon her arrival, she was recruited as a Confederate spy, and traveled all over the country, crossing enemy lines while she wore both male and female disguises to traffic information, drugs, and counterfeit bills to the South. She married Confederate Captain Thomas DeCaulp, but he soon died at a Chattanooga hospital. Traveling back up north, she was hired by Union officials to search for “the woman … traveling and figuring as a Confederate agent,” or in other words, to search for herself. During that time, she attempted to organize a rebellion of Confederate prisoners in Ohio and Indiana, and helped to win the war of Costintin in 1864. 

After the Civil War ended, she traveled around Europe and the South. Loreta married a third time. She and her husband, known only as Major Wasson, went to Venezuela as United States immigrants. He died in Caracus, so Loreta returned to America, this time going out west. She stopped in Salt Lake City long enough to give birth to a boy, and met Brigham Young. Nearly penniless, she traveled to Omaha, and charmed General W. S. Harney into giving her blankets and a revolver. Two days after she arrived to a mining town in Nevada, a sixty-year-old man proposed to her, but she refused. Supposedly, she married a fourth time, but the name of this younger man is unknown.  

It wasn’t long before she was off again. “With my baby boy in my arms, I started on a long journey through Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, hoping, perhaps, but scarcely expecting, to find opportunities which I had failed to find in Utah, Nevada, and California.” Her money was dwindling, so in 1876, she wrote a memoir to support her child. Most of what is known about Loreta was written in her 600-page book, The Woman in Battle: A Narrative of the Exploits, Adventures, and Travels of Madame Loreta Janeta Valazquez, Otherwise Known as Lieutenant Harry T. Buford, Confederate States Army. Upon its publication, General Jubal Early denounced it as pure fiction, but modern scholars have found some parts to be accurate. In 2007, the History Channel ran a special entitled Full Metal Corset, and verified some of the incidents described in the book, but there are still many facts in question. 

Loreta is last documented as living in Nevada. She never took any of her four husband’s names. After 1880, there is no further record of her life, including where or how she died, presumably in 1897. 

Meet Uncle Robert Wilson

Uncle

Uncle Robert Wilson who left this planet at 112 years old and whom the United Daughters of the Confederacy buried.

“RICHMOND BORN CIVIL WAR VETERAN DIES IN ILLINOIS
Elgin, Ill April 11- UP

Robert Wilson, oldest patient of the Elgin State Hospital, died today.
Confederate army records establish his age as 112.

Wilson, a Negro, was born in slavery January 12, 1836, at Richmond, VA, hospital files indicate. He was credited with service in the Confederate army during the Civil War (sic).

Known in the institution as Uncle Bob, he practiced evangelism before entering seven years ago.

He told attendants in the veterans’ ward that he was proudest of his knowledge of the Bible and of a half a dollar given him by Governor Dwight H Green, of Illinois, during a visit to the hospital several years ago.

Several months ago, Wilson lost the silver piece. His dismay was mentioned to Governor Green, who sent him another half dollar to replace it on his 112th birthday this year.

The oldest veteran had no living relatives. Hospital authorities said that plans are being made for his funeral by the Daughters of the Confederacy.”

ELGIN DAILY COURIER NEWS Elgin, IL.
April 11, 1948 Special thanks to Commander Randall Freeman for the information.

Lani Burnette – BLACK CONFEDERATES AND OTHER MINORITIES IN THE WAR OF NORTHERN AGGRESSION

(Article courtesy of the Southern Comfort, Sons of Confederate Veterans Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452, Volume 43, Issue #2, February 2019 ed.)

An Interesting Twist of Events

Perhaps the assault on historical monuments and markers is losing momentum. If this article is any indication, it might be. I certainly hope so. As I have stated in past posts, I believe destroying these national treasures is destroying our history.

Lakeland

A MURDER MAY SAVE A MONUMENT

Yes, You read right!

Hold the presses on the recent vote that we reported last week to remove the Confederate monument in Lakeland, Florida by the end of January.
The driving force behind the monument’s removal, Commissioner Michael Dunn, has resigned after being charged with second-degree murder. This is forcing a special election scheduled for January 15th to elect Dunn’s replacement.

There is also a lot of opposition around town to the Commission’s decision to install red-light cameras to raise the money to pay for the monument’s removal.

So Commissioner Scott Franklin has asked City Attorney Tim McCausland to add a line on the Jan. 15 ballot allowing the voters of Lakeland to decide the fate of the monument and on the purchase/installation of red light cameras.
Commissioner Troller wanted the monument put on a ballot last year but the Mayor and Commission refused to allow that for fear that a public vote may have ended in the monument’s favor. Now it would appear that the politicians prefer the monument’s final fate be blamed on the voters and not on themselves.

Commissioner Selvage has said that he has personally agonized over the decision to move the monument and how to pay for it. He said he has spent time in Munn Park looking at the statue. “I imagine him to be a 19-year-old young man, whose country was being invaded and he went to serve,” said the U.S. Marine veteran who served in Vietnam. “One hundred years later, I was 19, I did the same thing – I went to fight communists. I didn’t know what in the heck I was doing, I found myself in a far-off land, fighting, and now people say that was wrong, that was immoral. I looked at that soldier and thought, ‘That soldier was the same. He went to save his hide and, unlike me, he didn’t come back.'” Selvage added that the monument should remain in or be removed to, “where it will be treated with honor and respect.”

(Dr. Ed is a pastor, author, public speaker, radio personality, lobbyist, re-enactor, and the Director of Dixie Heritage.)
(Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, Nov. 23, 2018 ed.)

Halloween Hauntings and the Civil War (Pt. 2)

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Most people wouldn’t think of Perryville, Kentucky as being one of the most haunted places in the country. But on October 8, 1862, a terrible tragedy took place there that forever left an imprint on the land. Union and Confederate troops clashed for several hours, leaving approximately 7,600 young soldiers either, wounded, dead, or missing. The nearby Chaplin River ran red with blood from the fallen. The battle decided the fate of the state, and although the battle was a tactical victory for the Confederates, the Union army received enough reinforcements to force Confederate General Braxton Bragg back into Tennessee. His army would never again enter Kentucky. Because of this, the Federals had the opportunity to properly bury their dead. The Confederates, however, were unceremoniously thrown into mass graves and haphazardly left in unmarked plots on the battlefield.

assault-on-parsons-ridge

(Photo courtesy of Steve Stanely)

It isn’t surprising, then, that countless visitors to the battlefield have witnesses ghostly figures wandering the grassy fields, sometimes in broad daylight. Many reported seeing full-bodied apparitions marching across the fields, and have heard the deep percussion of heavy artillery and cannon fire echoing across the rolling hills. Disembodied voices have been captured on audio, responding to questions with intelligent responses that were indicative of 1862.

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Not only is the battlefield haunted, but so is the nearby Dye House, which served as a makeshift hospital after the battle. The structure witnessed hundreds of emergency surgeries, amputations, and painful, gruesome deaths. So much blood was spilled on the floors that, to this day, has been impossible to remove.  People have heard footsteps descend the stairs, and doors open and close by themselves. Recordings have been made where ghostly voices claim to be Civil War doctors.

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Joni House, the park’s preservation and program coordinator, has also witnessed strange occurrences. “I’m in my office and I hear people talking to me and nobody else is in the building. Or I come in here and see things that have happened in the museum. There’s no real explanation for why a mannequin’s head has been pulled off and is now in the middle of the floor.”

(The Perryville Battlefield was one of the Civil War Trust’s 10 most endangered battlefields in 2008.)

An Amazing Discovery

Cold Harbor

Every once in a while, stories like this pop up. It wasn’t too long ago that a Confederate soldier who had died at the Battle of Chickamauga was identified and buried with honors. There must be many long-forgotten little cemeteries and family plots that contain Civil War soldiers’ remains. Here is another example of a recent discovery.

cemetery

TEXAS CEMETERY DISCOVERY
A routine survey of a small East Texas towns cemetery revealed an amazing discovery. Over a half-dozen War Between the States veterans are buried there.

The find was made at the East Mountain cemetery in Gregg county.

For a town of only 800 people, the find at old East Mountain cemetery was remarkable.

Several of the men had moved to Texas after the war, like many did to start a new life. Texas was “the land of opportunity.”

Cemetery board members plan on having a historical marker dedication to commemorate the site in October.

(Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, September 28, 2018 ed.)

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