Civil War Tribute
150 Years Ago, Area Soldiers Helped Change the Course of History ...
Paris Beacon-News, May 23, 2011
Memorial Day 2011 inspires a history lesson. It was 150 years ago when the first shot was fired that sparked the American Civil War. A Confederate soldier fired on Fort Sumter, S.C. near Charleston Harbor on April 12, 1861, igniting the bloodiest conflict in America’s history.
Many soldiers from Edgar County were called to serve their country, and this year marks the beginning of a four-year commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States.
With that thought in mind, Edgar Cemetery board president Jim Englum encourages area residents to remember on Memorial Day the veterans who served their country in the war that pitted brothers against brothers.
“For the upcoming Memorial Day observance, our Board of Directors urges people who visit Edgar Cemetery to mark the location of all known Civil War veterans, like we marked the pioneer graves last year,” said Englum. “In fact, it would be an appropriate gesture in any county cemetery for the holiday, and we invite other cemeteries to join in our tribute.”
Easily found in the county’s largest cemetery are two groups of Civil War veterans. However, nearly 400 are interred in this burial ground which was formally established in 1858, although some early burials occurred prior to 1800.
“We know the locations of the two collective Civil War sites where a small group of these veterans rest; the remainder were buried with members of their family, which are scattered throughout,” said Englum. “Family historians will know if they have an ancestor who was a Civil War veteran, and others may want to find out. This is a good year to do it.”
Englum suggested that for those who would like to remember an ancestor or simply recognize the grave of a soldier who served in the Civil War, a solid blue, red or white field flag marker may be placed on the Civil War graves, to be displayed during the Memorial Day weekend. These inexpensive flags would distinguish the Civil War veterans from many others who are recognized annually on Memorial Day with the flag of the United States, Englum said.
Edgar Cemetery will make solid color flags available at the cemetery office at 629 Young Street after Friday, May 27, so they can be placed on the Civil War graves for the Memorial Day weekend. Such flags are also available at the local farm store.
“This tribute won’t catch all of them, but would certainly call attention to many of their burial places,” Englum said. He encouraged other cemetery caretakers and anyone interested in paying respects to these Civil War soldiers to do the same.
Many of the old government issued stones are marred from exposure to the elements, but others have aged remarkably well, Englum noted. The stone of a Union soldier is recognized by a rounded top; a Confederate soldier by a pointed top.
“We urge everyone to take this opportunity to learn something from history, delve a little into family connections, and once again – 150 years after – remember these veterans who served their state and country in its darkest hours,” Englum concluded.