Confederate Remains To Be Reburied
In Magnolia Cemetery In March
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
BY SCHUYLER KROPF
Of The Post and Courier Staff
The remains of 21 Confederate dead will be buried in Magnolia Cemetery next month, ending a 12-year effort to recover lost rebels from beneath The Citadel’s football stadium.
The soldiers and sailors were part of a much larger group of Confederates buried near the Ashley River during the Civil War. The site was presumed lost when Johnson Hagood Stadium was built over it in 1948.
Local re-enactor Randy Burbage said none of the men found during his group’s final excavation last June have been identified, but it appears most died during the defense of Charleston.
Some had bullets in their bodies, while others “appeared to be in pajamas or some kind of hospital gown,” Burbage said.
Charleston was a focal point of the Civil War on the Southeastern coast as Union forces on land and at sea put near-constant pressure on the city where secession began.
The cemetery was on low ground, making many of the gravesites constantly wet, Burbage said.
“The bodies were in such poor condition, we couldn’t tell a lot about them,” he said.
The men are thought to be Confederate sailors or marines because the graveyard was designated a mariner’s cemetery, he said.
Since 1993, when local re-enactors began searching stadium grounds for rebel dead, the remains of more than 60 Confederates have been recovered, including five members of the submarine H.L. Hunley’s first crew who drowned during an 1863 test mission. Volunteers were able to go back into the site last summer for one last search after the west side of the stadium was torn down.
The funeral is set for March 5 but won’t be as grand as last April’s procession for the eight crewmen recovered from the Hunley, which sank off Charleston in 1864. Rather than a march through the city, Burbage said this funeral will begin at the Magnolia Cemetery gate where the men will be escorted to the Soldier’s Ground inside the cemetery. Start time is 1 p.m.
The remains of about 350 civilians also were recovered from below the stadium. Those remains are in storage while Citadel officials decide how to re-inter them now that Johnson Hagood will be rebuilt at its current location, school spokeswoman Charlene Gunnells said Tuesday. One idea is to select a small site in the area of the present stadium for reburial and to erect a monument, she said.