Thursday, February 12, 2015

Winchester (Va.) cemetery: A Confederate photo gallery

If you don't stumble into Civil War history in Winchester, Va., you're doing something wrong. Three battles were fought in the town, which changed hands more than 70 times during the war. Stonewall Jackson made his headquarters on North Braddock Street during the winter of 1861-62, and prisoners of war from by both armies were kept at the county courthouse on Loudoun Street, within walking distance of the Taylor Hotel, which was used as a hospital by Rebels and Yankees. On Wednesday afternoon, just before I left town, I visited the Stonewall section of Mount Hebron Cemetery, where nearly 2,600 Confederates are buried. During a quick stop at the main office, a woman -- a Virginia native, of course -- kindly shared with me an old image of one of America's most famous soldiers of the 20th century. Here's a photo journal of my visit:


On July 3, 1863, Colonel Waller Patton was mortally wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg when part of his jaw was ripped away by an artillery fragment. The 28-year-old officer in the 7th Virginia died 18 days later at Pennsylvania College in Gettysburg. Fourteen months later, on Sept. 19, 1864, Waller's older brother, George, a colonel in the 22nd Virginia, was killed in action at the Third Battle of Winchester (Va.) Both men were buried in Mount Hebron Cemetery,  across the road today from Winchester National Cemetery, where nearly 4,400 Union soldiers from area battles rest. Decades later, George S. Patton Jr. (right), the colonel's grandson and later a famed World War II general, and his father visited the brothers' grave and posed for the photograph above.  


Topped with a lone star, this monument to the 1st and 5th Texas infantries was dedicated by the Texas Division Children of The Confederacy on July 22, 2013, "in observance of the 150 years of remembrance of the War Between the States."  "God Keep You" in French is carved into the bottom of the granite monument.


A colonel on the 23rd North Carolina, Daniel Harvey Christie was a teacher and merchant before the Civil War. (See his image and more info on him at Brian Downey's outstanding Antietam On The Web site.) Wounded at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, the 30-year-old Christie died 16 days later in Winchester. Before his death, he vowed to his men that he would have "the imbecile" General Alfred Iverson, the brigade commander who led the poorly conceived attack, canned it he were the last thing he did. Robert E. Lee, in fact, removed Iverson from command after the battle. Christie's marker was erected in his memory by his wife, Lizzie.


This rusty, old Confederate grave marker, likely from the late 19th century, weighs several pounds.


Worn down by nearly four years of war, the Confederate army could ill-afford to lose more officers in April 1865. Wounded in the chest on April 5, 1865, during the Rebels' retreat to Appomattox Courthouse, McGuire, a 23-year-old captain in 11th Virginia Cavalry, died on May 8, 1865, nearly a month after the Civil War officially ended. "So it goes," a Rebel soldier lamented in his diary after he received news of McGuire's wounding and the death of two other Confederate officers. "The best men are being rapidly killed off: How long. Oh! how long must this continue?"  McGuire, whose brother Hunter was a physician on Jackson's staff, was the last Rebel soldier from Winchester to die during the Civil War.

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