Son of Civil War veteran takes part in ceremony for re-burial of unknown soldier

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 Son of Civil War veteran takes part in ceremony for re-burial of unknown soldier

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PostSubject: Son of Civil War veteran takes part in ceremony for re-burial of unknown soldier   11/26/2009, 9:56 am

Son of Civil War veteran takes part in ceremony for re-burial of unknown soldier - White Lake Beacon

In May of this year, construction workers in Franklin Tennessee uncovered what would be identified as a battlefield grave of an anonymous Civil War soldier.

As a tribute to this unknown soldier, the Franklin Battlefield Task Force, reburied the soldier with honor. The coffin, draped in Confederate and Union flags was transported from St. Paul's Episcopal Church (that had served as a barracks and hospital in the war) on a horse-drawn carriage, accompanied by Civil War re-enactors, to Rest Haven Cemetery.

A new cemetery memorial is a limestone column that once was part of the state Capital that also served as a Union stronghold during the war. If the soldier were a Union soldier, he might have passed by this very column.

In addition to the re-enactors paying tribute, there were two men in their 90s who also have an active interest in Civil War events.

James Brown's father fought with the South as a 8th Georgia Infantry. He was not in the Franklin battle, but was at Appomattox when General Lee surrendered.

Harold Becker, who grew up in Montague, was the son of Charles Becker, who like James Brown's father, had fathered their sons when they were in their 70s. After a successful Chicago business career during which he summered in White Lake arriving on the Goodrich lines, Charles retired in Montague in 1924 and lived in the House of Seven Gables on Old Channel Trail. Charles died in 1934 and is buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Montague.

Harold lived here from the time he was 7-years-old until he graduated from Montague High School. After a business career as an engineer and plant manager in refrigeration with Norge, Harold and his wife retired to Rockford.

Both Brown and Becker remember their fathers talking about the war. For Brown, his father's Confederacy war experience was of ultimate great hardship.

Becker recalls his father describing a surprising amount of comradship particularly in trading during the winter. The South had tobacco and the North, coffee. Toward the end of the war, although there were desertions on both sides, it was the Confederacy losses that were obvious.

Both Brown and Becker with their special insights into an event that still has echoes in America, were happy for this occasion to honor an American.

Two factors were critical in identifying this unearthed body as a Civil War soldier. In 1864, a fierce battle was fought at Franklin, Tennessee. Civil War statistics estimate the casualties in just this one battle to be 8,587 with the Union losing 2,326, and the Confederacy 6,261. The statistics, while cruel in human life, also have a military impact because the Union at the time of battle was outnumbered by the Confederacy.

Historians attribute the lopsided statistics favoring the Union to the leadership of General Thomas who deployed the Union soldiers into pits and trenches in preparation for battle. When the Confederacy attacked, they just came in a frontal attack of lines of soldiers who were easy to pick off.

The second identification factor is artifacts found with the body. In this case, since battlefield burial was often to cover the body with earth, over the ensuing 145 years, what was left around the body were Civil War military buttons. Robin Hood, chair of the Franklin Battlefield Task Force that organized the event, noted that it would be difficult to say which side the soldier was on because, “this late in the war a lot of Southern buttons were Union buttons, because Confederate buttons didn't hold up as well.”

(Material on Charles and his son Harold Becker taken from Fran Schattenberg’s article in the White Lake Beacon July 30, 2007. Information on the Oct. 10 Franklin event and James Brown and his father was from an Associated Press article Oct. 10, 2009.)
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