Archeologists Unearth 40 Confederate Corpses in Virginia Cemetery 154 Years Later

Like you probably, I often come across stories quite by accident that just scream out at me; “share me with other genealogical researchers!” This is another one of those finds.  Interestingly enough, this FOX NEWS story appeared on the United Kingdom’s Mail OnLine News.  I’m very sorry that I found it two weeks after our Memorial Day Observances, but I just couldn’t hold it for another year without sharing.  And, I am quite anxiously anticipating this story will further unfold over the next few months. Please take a read…


Ted Delaney, the assistant director of Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg Virginia, along with a team of archeologists discovered the bodies

The bodies of 40 Confederate soldiers unearthed in the last two months will have a proper memorial around 150 years after they fought during the Civil War.

Photo by Ted Delaney

Photo by Ted Delaney

Ted Delaney, the assistant director of Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg Virginia, along with a team of archeologists also found the areas where Union Soldiers were buried and then disinterred in 1866.

Delaney told reporters that his team discovered an area of the cemetery called ‘Yankee Square’ that had both red and orange squares that he deemed were Confederate soldiers’ graves.

Archeologists are hoping to identify Confederate soldiers (pictured ca. 1861-1865) around 150 years after they fought during the Civil War

Civil War Confedertes

Photo by Corbis

In early April the team dug a 45-by-10 foot trench to dig up the bodies and now face the challenge of identifying each grave and giving them the recognition they deserve.

‘Our goal is to put a marker on each grave space to identify the soldier and note when he died and his military unit,’ said Delaney

‘The undertaker’s notes are so detailed and complete,’ he added, confident that at least 80 soldiers would be properly identified.

This has been an incredible process of discovery,’ he told Fox News.  

‘It’s always been very frustrating for those descendants who come to us because they can’t find their ancestor’s grave. Now we can bring some of them closure.’

‘Yankee Square’ was originally intended to be a burial site for just Union soldiers but later included Confederate soldiers many of whom died from smallpox and other diseases.

Delaney and his team have been awarded an annual grant of $2,500 from the Virginia Department of Historic Records for their work.

Delaney and his archeologists were not the only ones to discover unidentified Civil War graves during the last few years.

Sam Ricks, the graves registrar for the Sons of Confederate Veterans’, uncovered unmarked graves at Mount Mariah Cemetery along with his crew recently.

The 380-acre historic cemetery which spans from Philadelphia and Yeadon, Pennsylvania called Mount Moriah cemetery houses graves of 2,300 Marines and Navy service members dating from the Revolutionary War to the War of 1812 all the way to the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Ricks made a discovery in 2008 after being approached by a relative of a cadet from the Virginia Military Institute, Nathan Tiernon Walton a year earlier.

Walton, along with 194 cadets, fought the Battle of New Market in Virginia for the Confederate Army on May 15, 1864.

Walton later left his wife and daughter in Baltimore to find work in Atlanta and Philadelphia and became estranged from his relatives.

‘He was a recluse,’ Ricks said, ‘And no one ever knew what became of him.’

Walton’s family believed that he was buried in Baltimore along with his wife, but Walton’s great-grandson, Bill Banks, found no evidence that Walton was buried in Loudon Park Cemetary.

Fox reports that Banks continues a search started by his grandmother 100 years ago to find the grave of his great-grandfather.

They later discovered that Walton died in the Great Influenza Pandemic or 1918.

In November 2008, both Ricks and Walton’s family were able to mark Walton’s grave with a large cast iron Southern Cross passed down by Walton’s daughter.

‘I’m reminded of this case every Memorial Day,’ Ricks said.

‘Walton’s daughter had handed down to generations a marker to be placed at his grave should it ever be found. And then we actually did it. We fulfilled her wish.’

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