3/3/05 newspaper article on the planned March 5, 2005 funeral

Confederate Mass Burial May Be Last
Charleston Funeral Saturday For 21 Soldiers And Sailors
Published on 03/03/05
Of The Post and Courier Staff

A funeral Saturday for 21 Confederates recovered from beneath The Citadel’s football stadium could be the last mass-Civil War burial South Carolina will see for some time.

The state’s battle sites and wartime cemeteries, especially those along the coast, pretty much have been overrun by development, said burial organizer Randy Burbage, chairman of the Confederate Heritage Trust.

“The chances of finding this many again are pretty slim,” Burbage said Wednesday. “As battleground areas are developed, they’ll probably find one or two here or there because they buried soldiers everywhere. But this probably will be the last time this many are buried at once.”

At 1 p.m. Saturday, the remains of the 21 sailors and soldiers will be interred at Magnolia Cemetery.

They are the last of 62 Confederates — including five members of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley’s first crew — recovered from beneath Johnson Hagood Stadium between 1993 and 2004.

The men originally were left in what was the wartime Seaman’s Burial Ground on the Ashley River. In 1948, Johnson Hagood was built over the cemetery by the city of Charleston. The bodies never were moved.

For the funeral, the remains will be transported in hearses to the burial site, then carried by re-enactors to the Soldier’s Ground for interment. At least 300 re-enactors are expected, Burbage said.

The remains were recovered in June after Confederate Heritage Trust members went back to the stadium.

The west-side bleachers had been torn down, allowing excavators into previously unreachable areas blocked by floors, walls or other supports.

Burbage said the bones were in poor condition because of the wet ground beneath the stadium and because of construction that occurred decades ago.

Many of the remains “fell apart when they came out of the ground,” Burbage said.

“We believe the men who sacrificed their lives for the Confederacy deserve better than to be buried beneath the grandstands of a football stadium,” he added.