A Student of History

June 10, 2006

Should these CW Soldiers be Called “Unknown”?

Filed under: Historic Places — John Maass @ 4:02 am

In the Boston Globe is an article today by Megan Tench, concerning the remains of six Union soldiers killed near Centerville, Va., just days before the first battle at Bull Run.  The men have been identified as Massachusetts soldiers, and on 10 June they will be buried at National Veterans Cemetery in Bourne. MA.  What is unusual about this episode is that Dalton Rector, who has been behind the effort to identify these men for years and thinks he can–but can't be sure if they bury the remains he and others found.  He doesn;t want them to be "unknowns" at all.

Rector says he thinks he knows their names, and he argues they deserve better than to be buried in graves as unknowns without any descendants there to pay final respects.

When I started this research, it was my main hope that they would be positively identified through DNA testing," Rector, a member of the Northern Virginia Relic Hunters Association, said in a telephone interview yesterday.  These were some of the very first soldiers to die in the Civil War. . . . It is just heartbreaking to me. I came to know these soldiers personally. I came to know their names and their ages. It's so unfair. Just so unfair.

Regarding the discovery of the graves, the article reports that "In 1995, two members of the Northern Virginia-based Relic Hunters unexpectedly found the first set of remains on what they believed was a former Confederate campsite, Rector said. Two years later, developers preparing to build a McDonald's called officials to remove the remains, and a crew of state archeological workers and volunteers found remains of the other five soldiers nearby."

'The Capture of Rickett's Battery' by Sidney King, 1964 (oil on plywood).

(First Battle of Bull Run, 1861)

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1 Comment »

  1. I am from the Chelsea Historical COmmission and I am livid that these men, identified by Dalton Rector, have been buried as “unknowns,” with no research into their descendants having been conducted, and no one at Fairfax County’s archeology office (who received the remains) having ever contacted our city for assistance, money and history regarding them. Anyone interested in finding out about our efforts to stop their interment as “unknowns” can reach me at: nadinem@mindspring.com

    Comment by Nadine Mironchuk — June 16, 2006 @ 2:15 pm | Reply


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