Wednesday, July 11, 2012

East Hartland (Conn.) Cemetery: Sign of times

Words under John Banning's name on a memorial in East Hartland, Conn. 
The Civil War obviously stirred emotions in people in the North and South, perhaps none more so than among families who lost loved ones. In late April, I told the story of John Banning and Rodolphus Rowe, soldiers in the 16th Connecticut from Hartland, who became prisoners of war at Plymouth, N.C. Both were sent to Andersonville, the most notorious Civil War prison camp. Rowe died aboard a ship heading north, shortly after his release from Andersonville, and is buried in the national cemetery in Beaufort, S.C. Banning died at Andersonville, where he is buried under Grave No. 7742.

In the small, tidy East Hartland Cemetery, among graves for Revolutionary War soldiers, a brownstone memorial to Banning and Rowe was placed, probably shortly after the Civil War. These words, worn by the elements but still easily read, appear under Banning's name and place of death:

A Martyr To This Unholy Rebellion 

Perhaps Banning's mother, who depended on her son for financial support, had those words etched on the 8-foot memorial. Perhaps someone else in the small farming community that lost at least 15 men to the "unholy rebellion" had the words carved in stone. We may never know for sure.

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