Posts Tagged ‘confederate’

11th Mississippi Infantry

11th Mississippi Infantry

For me, there is no monument that more simply conveys the utter devastation wreaked on the Army of Northern Virginia by undertaking Longstreet’s Assault (what most people think of as Pickett’s Charge) than the one to the 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment on Confederate Avenue at Gettysburg.   The monument was just dedicated in 2000.

11th Mississippi Infantry

On this day in 1863 at the Battle of Gettysburg, Lt. General James Longstreet’s Division of the Army of Northern Virginia (commanded of course by General Robert E. Lee) marched across 3/4 of a mile of open farmland to attack the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. The Confederate charge began with more than 12,000 soldiers and suffered over 50% casualties. As a young teenager, I walked Pickett’s Charge on a school trip – our group was assigned a Virginia regiment that I have long since forgotten. We learned to march in formation, and we each received a 3×5 index card with the name and a few details about a soldier of that regiment. I still recall very clearly that my soldier was William Norris, who did survive. As we marched across the field, the park ranger kept calling names where men fell – the student marching in the place of that soldier would fall out of line to walk behind the unit, and the rest of us would try to close ranks. Private Norris was one of the few to make it to the Union lines. I remember how very lonely it was to be one of the few still “charging,” and I was only playing pretend, not staring down the barrels of entrenched rifles and artillery.

11th Mississippi Infantry

The 11th Mississippi monument has a plaque that shows in stark, numeric terms the battle’s effect on them.  The regiment ended up being the left flank, exposing it to enfilade fire. 86% casualties (round down) – 86% of the soldiers who began the charge under their colors were no longer available for combat at the end – killed, wounded or captured.  77% of the soldiers in the regiment were killed or wounded – 27%  of the regiment killed outright or mortally wounded.  Company A, the University Greys who largely came from the University of Mississippi, earned particular distinction by suffering 100% casualties. No soldier of Company A present on July 3, 1863 would have been able to fight if the battle continued on July 4. It’s very nearly unimaginable – the numbers are staggering.

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Daniel Cromer (2)

Daniel Cromer was a Confederate prisoner of war who died on April 10, 1865. He served in the 15th South Carolina Regiment. The temporary wooden grave marker that once marked his grave at the prison is now in the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The Civil War Museum’s information indicates he was fifty-eight years old and the cause of death was anemia.

Daniel Cromer

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About a month ago, I wrote here about the most viewed cemetery-related photos on my Flickrstream. Not surprisingly, they were all for gravestones of famous people or people related to famous events: two related to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, the tomb of Robert E. Lee, the ledger stone for Helen Pitts Douglass, and the statue that marks the grave of Stonewall Jackson.

The next most popular photo on my Flickr stream that I’m going to include here isn’t technically a gravestone, but it is a memorial, and I love it so much I am going to give it its own post. It’s the marker that purports to mark the location where Confederate Brigadier General Lewis Armistead fell wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg while leading his troops in Pickett’s charge. It greatly resembles a grave marker in its design. I have had a soft spot in my heart for Armistead ever since I became familar with his story (interpreted and dramatized in the book The Killer Angels and movie Gettysburg).

In many ways, Armistead has been a figure who has been used to show how the Civil War was fought by men who knew each other intimately. At the eve of the Civil War, Armistead was already a figure that could star in any tragedy: he did not finish his education at West Point, fire destroyed his family home in Virginia, he developed a rare skin disorder, and he buried two wives and two children. He was particularly close to fellow army officer Winfield Scott Hancock and his wife Almira Hancock. He entrusted Hancock’s wife with items to be forwarded to his family in the event of his death. Like many other army officers born and raised in the Confederate states, Armistead decided he could not fight against his home state and resigned his army commission to take a command in the Confederate armies. In The Killer Angels, author Shaara uses Armistead to voice the conflicting emotions that many Civil War officers must have felt a they fought against those they had once served beside. Armistead lead his brigade in Pickett’s Charge on the 3rd day of the Battle of Gettysburg, making his way to the Union lines before being wounded. According to those who moved him from the field, he asked after his friend Hancock and wanted to send a message to him. Armistead in fact was buried on the property of the nearby Spangler farm where he died two days later. He was later re-interred at St. Paul’s Cemetery in Baltimore.

Brigadier General Lewis A. Armistead C.S.A. Fell Here July 3, 1863.

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Kirtland West Cemetery

Kirtland, Ohio, I have discovered, has a cemetery for each point of the compass. I wrote about Kirtland North Cemetery back in the summer, and I visited Kirtland South and Kirtland West on our last bright, summery weekend day. I didn’t find Kirtland West by looking for it – I was just driving to Kirtland South Cemetery and saw a little graveyard along the road and decided to stop because it looked interesting. It was not much bigger than the size of a residential lot, and there is no sign. The “parking area” is a little bit of gravel mixed into the grass where there is a break in the wooden fence.

Kirtland West Cemetery

The earliest graves I saw marked were from the 1820s, and the latest was from 1959. I’d been there maybe ten minutes when, to my surprise, another SUV pulled up behind me. Putting aside large, active cemeteries like Lake View, most of my cemetery expeditions are conducted without seeing another person on the cemetery grounds, including groundskeepers. A family of mom, dad, a son about 10 and a daughter a little younger got out of the SUV, looking a little surprised to see me. And then I saw the GPS in the father’s hand.


“Yes, you, too?”

“No, but I saw the GPS in your hand. I write a cemetery blog.”

I continued to take photos while they looked for the geocache, which I overheard them remark had been there over a year by now.


Then I pointed out a few of the interesting things I had noted in the cemetery, like the remarkably well-preserved tombstone from 1827 I posted about this past week, and the grave in the back corner with a Confederate veteran marker holding a small flag blazoned with the stars and bars.

Mary Worrall and her children

I finished my photos and we all moved to leave at about the same time, and one of the kids asked the mother a question, and the mother replied that the cemetery was very peaceful. She was right. The little plot of land was calming, and felt still even as the autumn winds of northeast Ohio were blowing my hair every which way.


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Woodland Cemetery contains what is allegedly the only Confederate grave in Cuyahoga County. Henry Ebenezer Handerson, who lies sedately in a cemetery with well over a hundred Union veterans, served in the Civil War as a Confederate soldier and officer.

The Yankee in Grey

Henry Handerson was born in Orange Township in Cuyahoga County in 1837, to Thomas and Catherine Handerson, natives of New York state. Within two years, a tragic accident killed Thomas, leaving Catharine with 5 children. Henry and one of his sisters (whose name is never mentioned in accounts I have found) were adopted by his uncle Lewis Handerson. The uncle moved his family to Beersheba Springs, Tennessee. In 1854, he entered college at Geneva College in New York and returned to his adopted family after completing his course of study. In Tennessee, he worked as a surveyor before finding work as a private tutor to plantation-owning families in Louisiana. He embarked on medical studies at the University of Louisiana (now Tulane University) in the fall of 1860. He had joined a company of local militia, or home guards, and volunteered for the Confederate army in June of 1861.

He was part of the Stafford Guards, Company of the 9th Regiment, Louisiana Volunteers. He rose through the ranks to eventually reach the rank of Adjutant General of the 2nd Louisiana Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia. Handerson was captured at the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864 and became a prisoner of war. He became part of the Immortal Six Hundred, a group of Confederate officers explicitly placed into the line of fire of Confederate guns on Morris Island in Charleston Harbor and later moved to Fort Pulaski in the mouth of the Savannah River. Handerson finally signed an oath of allegiance on June 17, 1865, four years to the day from when he first volunteered for the Confederacy. Handerson wrote a memoir called A Yankee in Gray that I have not yet been able to locate.

Handerson completed his long-delayed medical studies at Columbia University in New York and earned the degree of M.D. in 1867. He married a woman named Juliet Alice Root in 1872, but she did not survive long and left him a widower with a young daughter. He practiced medicine and researched the history of the field in New York before finally returning to his birthplace in 1885.

In Cleveland, he married a significantly younger woman named Clara Corlett in 1888, and she can be seen resting beside him in Woodland Cemetery. They had two more sons together.


His work in Cleveland afforded him great acclaim in the medical community. In addition to being a practicing physician, he published books and articles on the history of medicine as well as the state of health in Cleveland. He became a professor of Hygiene and Sanitary Science first at University of Wooster and then the Cleveland College of Physicians and Surgeons (now Ohio Wesleyan University). He founded the Cleveland Medical Library Association and served as its president for six year. He was also president of the Cuyahoga County Medical Society and a member of professional organizations: the Cleveland Academy of Medicine, the Ohio State Medical Society, and the American Medical Association. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 80 in 1918.

A detailed biography of Handerson is contained in this link, as a foreward to one of his books published posthumously. During his life, most accounts state that Handerson often downplayed his Civil War service, but it is now probably what is most often remembered about him.

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Two years after the American West trip, I earned my final credits for graduation on another road trip course that toured the American South, and that was really the next time that I took any tombstone photographs. But I began to feel the pull of graveyards – during our visit to New Orleans, one of my disappointments was that I didn’t manage to squeeze in a tour of any of the famous cemeteries (My friend Matt and I did join in on a Ghost Tour that centered on the French Quarter.)

Robert E. Lee's tomb

Stonewall Jackson's grave

As part of the course, we visited the cemetery where General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson is interred and General Robert E. Lee’s tomb on the campus of Washington and Lee University. I still restricted my cemetery photograph to “famous” graves, but my definition of famous had expanded a little. In addition to Stonewall Jackson and Lee, I took photographs of other Confederate officers’ grave markers.

William Pendleton Grave

Col. Alexander Pendleton, CSA

I look back at the photographs from this trip, and I could kick myself. I see all those other tombstones in the background of the Jackson and Pendleton photos, and I wish I had known then how fascinated I would become with cemeteries.

And, why, oh, why, didn’t I get a photograph of the marker for Lee’s horse, Traveller, who rests just outside the chapel door?

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