PDA

View Full Version : 1st Mass Finally Return Home



FWL
06-05-2006, 10:03 PM
From the Boston Hearld
Fallen soldiers returning home 145 years later
By Thomas Caywood
Wednesday, May 31, 2006 - Updated: 09:24 AM EST

The remains of six Massachusetts Civil War soldiers uncovered at a McDonald’s construction site in Virginia are finally coming home after 136 years in unmarked graves and nine years in storage at the Smithsonian Institutution.

“They were United States Civil War soldiers. They deserve to be buried in a cemetery, not sitting on a shelf or however they store them at the Smithsonian,” said Frank Haley of Bellingham, a member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

Haley found out a few years ago the remains are thought to be soldiers from the 1st Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and has been working his way through a tangle of bureaucracy ever since to get them buried in the Bay State.

Archaeologists from Fairfax County, Va., will deliver the skeletal remains in two weeks so they can be buried at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne alongside World War II and Korean War vets.

“The fact that they are finally coming home after so many years gives a lot of satisfaction to us,” said Massachusetts National Cemetery Director Paul McFarland.

Civil War relic hunters using metal detectors originally stumbled on the Centrerville, Va., grave site a decade ago. They notified authorities, who brought in an expert from the Smithsonian to help excavate what turned out to be six graves in a line, said Mike Johnson, senior archaeologist for the Fairfax County Parks Department.

Scraps of uniform fabric, buttons and shoes found with the remains as well as extensive research into military records led investigators to the conclusion the soldiers were members of the 1st Massachusetts Infantry Regiment killed in July 1861 during a skirmish a few days before the larger battle of Bull Run.

“The Union Army was driven out, the Confederates came in,” Johnson said. “If there were any markers like wooden headboards, the Confederates probably would have used those as firewood.”

Based on military records, researchers theorize two of the soldiers were from Boston, two from Chelsea, one from Malden and one from New Hampshire who had been living in Boston, Haley said.

indguard
06-05-2006, 10:08 PM
“The Union Army was driven out, the Confederates came in,” Johnson said. “If there were any markers like wooden headboards, the Confederates probably would have used those as firewood

What the ******************** was THAT supposed to mean?? He knows this HOW? Especially that early in the war.

I found that line insulting!

bill watson
06-06-2006, 07:31 AM
You're kind of going out of your way to be insulted today, Todd? And really shouldn't you be directing your outrage to the person who made the remark?

FWL
06-06-2006, 09:32 AM
What the ******************** was THAT supposed to mean?? He knows this HOW? Especially that early in the war.

I found that line insulting!


Mr Inguard. I assume you refer to "Mike Johnson, senior archaeologist for the Fairfax County Parks Department" and not me who simply posted the newspaper information.

But if I can rise to Mr. Johnson's defense. He is, I can safely assume, an archaeologist with some adequate degree of training. He is also employed by Fairfax County VA and as such I assume has a significant amount of training in recovery and interpretation of civil war artifacts. He is also senior in title. So he as some experience. Ok so far?

Archaeologists dig, find and interpret what they find. Thats what they do. Its no fun if they cannot interpret what they find. If you think historians sit around and argue "what if's" archaelogists are worse they are micromanager historians. I know I almost married one. So Mr. Johnson was simply doing what he does and being in Virginia in Fairfax County I bet he knows his stuff.

Don't be insulted at least this got in the papers up here. I believe some of the reenactor groups up here are getting together a honor guard and firing squad for the burial. Thats worth more attention than taking shots at Mr. Johnson.

bill watson
06-06-2006, 02:45 PM
"In an act of ghoulish revenge, men of the 8th Georgia, who had opposed the 2nd Rhode Island, had dug up Ballou's body, ... cut off its head and burned it."

Review of "For Love & Liberty: The Untold Story of Major Sullivan Ballou and his Famous Love Letter" appearing in the current issue of The Civil War News, Page 29.

That's from this same campaign, First Manassas.

sbl
06-11-2006, 08:56 AM
Nice Video from New England Cable News of the Burial.

Go to this address....

http://www.boston.com/news/necn/

and look for ....

"Civil War remains finally laid to rest"

FWL
06-11-2006, 10:40 AM
Nice Video from New England Cable News of the Burial.

Go to this address....

http://www.boston.com/news/necn/

and look for ....

"Civil War remains finally laid to rest"


Here is an AP article posted in the June 10, 2006 Boston Globe. I attended the service as part of an infantry escort and it was well done and did honor to these men Attending and participating in the ceremony were SUVCW, various representative of New England Reenacting Units; 22 Mass, 28 Mass, 5th NH, New England Brigade, a Local VFW Chapter from Bourne, Mass, active duty reserves from Otis Air Force Base, active duty Army from Mass Military Reservation. Each coffin was a small approx 4x2 simple wood pine box of period design with rope handles. Each coffin was marked by the number of the soldier (1-6). The hearse was escorted by an infantry company of reenactors who marched a funeral cadence step with arms reversed. Period musicians played a funeral march on muffled drums. They were excellent. The weather was a Cape Cod grey with remnants of a topical storm that just passed through, the entire ceremony was conducted in a steady drizzle. The crowd including all assembled was about 200. No one appeared to leave despite the weather. During the ceremony the infantry escort stood in a mourning position (I forget the name of it) with the tip of the musket on the front toe of the left boot and the hands folded over the butt plate and the head resting on the hands). Pesky reporters questioned us while we were in this position of mourning (about 45 minutes), we were polite but constrained. A firing squad of seven reenactors fired 3 volleys. The coffins were placed in the ground in reverse number 6 to 1. They were buried as unknown civil war soldiers.

As you can see from the attached article there is some controversy on whether or not they should have been buried at this time. The prevailing attitude from the reenactors, the VFW boys and the SUVCW was it was time they were buried in Mass and they should be buried together and not separated for individual burial. A most moving event to be part of. Probably a high point of my involvement in this hobby. I wish there was more press on this so other reenactment units could attend. We only got about 5 days notice.

Frank Lilley, 28th Mass Co. K

Six Union soldiers return to Mass. for burial 145 years later
By Ken Maguire, Associated Press Writer | June 10, 2006


BOURNE, Mass. --Union soldiers thought they would overrun the Confederates and return home victorious in short order. The remains of six, however, did not make it home until Saturday.

The remains were buried at the Massachusetts National Cemetery, 145 years after the men died on a battlefield in Virginia during the early days of the Civil War.
"For them, it has been a long journey home," cemetery director Paul McFarland said at a ceremony that drew 200 people despite steady rain. "The journey started here in Massachusetts. To borrow a phrase often used between our Vietnam veterans, 'Welcome home.'"
Killed days before the first battle of Manassas -- a Confederate victory in July 1861 that surprised President Lincoln -- their graves were unmarked and undiscovered until the early 1990s, when relic hunters came across bones on a site slated for the construction of a McDonald's restaurant in Centreville, Va.
Using war records and other clues, including uniform types, they were later identified as members of the 1st Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, although they were buried as "unknown" because DNA testing hasn't been done.
A fife and drum band led a hearse carrying the six wooden caskets -- each 3 feet long and covered by an American flag -- in a procession through the cemetery, where 40,000 other veterans and their spouses, including Iraq war veterans, are interred.
Jerry Casey, 51, said he drove 45 minutes from his Dartmouth home because he didn't want the men to be buried alone. The truck driver said he was saddened last year to see a veteran -- the hearse had American flags on it -- drive to the cemetery alone.
"That poor guy, coming down here by himself, no family," he said. "I saw this (Union soldiers) on the news and said, 'I'll go down there.' I'm sure these guys don't have any family."
Indeed, no descendants have been identified yet, which means there's no DNA matches to be had, resulting in the "unknown" burials.
McFarland said the remains were tentatively identified as William A. Smart of Cambridge, Albert F. Wentworth of Chelsea, Thomas Roome of Boston, George Bacon of Chelsea, Gordon Forrest of Malden, and James Silvey of Boston.
"They have names, but they couldn't match who was who," he said before the ceremony.
The anonymous burials reportedly didn't sit well with the Virginians who discovered and researched the remains. But Michael Johnson, a Fairfax County archaeologist who led the excavation, said the identification process can continue if family members are found and want to pay for expensive DNA testing.
"It still can be done through a court order, rather than leave them in a box on a shelf," said Johnson, who attended the ceremony.
Kevin Ambrose, a member of the Northern Virginia Relic Hunters Association, discovered the unmarked graves. The remains later were turned over to the Smithsonian Institution, where they stayed for about a decade.
Another relic hunter, Dalton Rector, a descendant of a Confederate soldier, spent years researching the identities, and eventually teamed with Bellingham resident Frank Haley, a member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, to get the remains moved to Massachusetts.
One other Civil War veteran is interred at the Massachusetts National Cemetery, where World War II veterans dominate. The remains of the unidentified soldier were discovered about 10 years ago in South Carolina.
Before Saturday, the most recent burial was Marine Lance Cpl. Patrick J. Gallagher, 27, who died in April in Iraq. Gallagher grew up in nearby Fairhaven.
© Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Doug Cooper
06-11-2006, 11:03 PM
Frank - any chance a plaque or memorial with all 6 names will be installed there near the graves?

FWL
06-12-2006, 09:04 AM
Frank - any chance a plaque or memorial with all 6 names will be installed there near the graves?

Doug as far as I understand it the marker will be Unknown Civil War Soldier. I don't claim to know the entire story-but if you read between the lines of the various newspaper articles there is controversy on whether or not they should have been buried. DNA testing was not completed or only done to the extent that they could segregate the bones into six individuals). Its my understanding (and I may be wrong) they are 1) sure they are from the 1st Mass 2) pretty sure who the six are but not 100% sure 3) they are not sure who each set of remains belong to. They would have to find descendants (which they tried to and could not find) and match the descendants (by DNA testing) with the remains that would give 100% certainty on who each set is. That type of testing and research was very expensive and they could not get anybody to pony up for it.

There has been some criticism from those in Fairfax County, VA who were involved with the project that if they had been Confederate Soldiers there would have been more interest and they would have raised the money, found the ancestors and done the match and then there could have been a informed decision to bury these remains in home town cemeteries vs the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne. My own opinion is while there may be some truth to that view, the facts are; they died together, were buried on the battlefield for 136 years together (145-9), and they were returned home to their home state and buried together with full military honors. They should be buried together don't separate them. Let them be at peace.

I don't think we can ever stop arguing about this war. We certainly don't forget. Perhaps that’s all a good thing.

Doug Cooper
06-12-2006, 02:59 PM
Doug as far as I understand it the marker will be Unknown Civil War Soldier. I don't claim to know the entire story-but if you read between the lines of the various newspaper articles there is controversy on whether or not they should have been buried. DNA testing was not completed or only done to the extent that they could segregate the bones into six individuals). Its my understanding (and I may be wrong) they are 1) sure they are from the 1st Mass 2) pretty sure who the six are but not 100% sure 3) they are not sure who each set of remains belong to. They would have to find descendants (which they tried to and could not find) and match the descendants (by DNA testing) with the remains that would give 100% certainty on who each set is. That type of testing and research was very expensive and they could not get anybody to pony up for it.

There has been some criticism from those in Fairfax County, VA who were involved with the project that if they had been Confederate Soldiers there would have been more interest and they would have raised the money, found the ancestors and done the match and then there could have been a informed decision to bury these remains in home town cemeteries vs the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne. My own opinion is while there may be some truth to that view, the facts are; they died together, were buried on the battlefield for 136 years together (145-9), and they were returned home to their home state and buried together with full military honors. They should be buried together don't separate them. Let them be at peace.

I don't think we can ever stop arguing about this war. We certainly don't forget. Perhaps that’s all a good thing.

Agree - they should remain at peace. If we are reasonably certain the men are the 6 men the 1st Mass lost that day, it might be nice to have a plaque that says they are there, but we just don't know who is who.