From the Richmond Dispatch, 7/17/1866, p. 1, c. 5
THE “TIMES” AND THE COFEDERATE DEAD. – The following are extracts from a paragraph in the local column of the Times of yesterday under the heading of “Confederate dead.”:
The attention of the ladies of the Memorial Associations of Richmond is called to the fact that there are a number of Confederate soldiers buried on the fields and farms of various persons on the Charles City, Williamsburg, and Darbytown roads, within the distance of three or four miles from the city, which, through want of care or means to have them removed, have been ploughed up, and all traces of them obliterated. This is shameful, after the large amounts that have been given to secure decent burial for the honored dead. We are aware that the Presidents of the Associations have given public notice that cases reported will be attended to; but with all due deference to their wisdom, experience has proven that the plan fails, because the farmers and others have very little opportunity, and some no inclination, to put themselves to the trouble of reporting these cases.
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“We know the desire and willingness of the ladies to do all they can, and hope soon to chronicle the fact that all these remains are decently disinterred and transferred to our own burying-grounds.”
These remarks are certainly unjust to the managers of the Memorial Associations of this city, and we trust that they are also unjust to the farmers of Virginia, some of whom are accused of having no inclination to put themselves to trouble in the cause of the honored dead.
The Hollywood and Oakwood Associations are both pledged to use all the moneys they can collect in marking and preserving the graves of Confederate soldiers in the cemeteries from which they derive their names. At least forty thousand dollars will be required to complete the proposed work. Not more than one –eighth of this amount has so far been collected, and the Associations have not the means of removing and interring in the cemeteries the remains of the Confederate soldiers who were buried below this city. It is the desire and intention of the Memorial Associations – as soon as the work of marking and preserving the graves of those already interred in their cemeteries is completed – to collect the remains of all the soldiers within reach, and reinter them in Hollywood or Oakwood; and their object in calling for a list of all soldiers’ graves around the city is that their record may be preserved, and steps taken in due time for their removal. In many instances, persons in the far south have written to the Presidents of our Memorial Associations for information in relation to their friends who were hastily buried on the field where they fell. This was done in order that their remains might be disinterred and taken home, and was another reason why a list of all such graves was required.
It is hard to believe that within the limits of the State of Virginia there can be found any class of Southern men who will wantonly plough up and obliterate the graves of Confederate soldiers found upon their farms, for the sake of sparing themselves a little trouble! They are not asked to erect a costly monument of even a marble head-stone, but they are expected to make a record of them, and see that neither time, nor wandering cattle, not the careless hand of the farm laborer, is allowed to sweep from the face of the earth the humble mound that marks the soldier’s grave.
The farmer who would allow the graves of the men who fell while fighting for him and for his children to be obliterated and dishonored, is false to his name as a man and false to his name as a Virginian! We at least will not believe that our farmers – our upright, conscientious Virginia farmers – would do our dead this wrong, and neither will we believe that there has been anything “shameful” in the action of the noble-hearted ladies who, regardless of labor and fatigue, conduct our memorial associations, or that they are careless or regardless of any one of our fallen soldiers, whoever he may have been, or wherever he may lie.
Without intending it, no doubt, our contemporary has wounded the feelings of the managers and members of our memorial associations, and has, by inference, cast a reproach upon the whole people of Virginia! We call upon him, as a matter of justice, to recall his remarks, or at least give satisfactory proof of the truth of his assertions.