Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Richmond: Confederate Remembrance

The Confederate Pyramid honoring
18,000 dead soldiers and sailors from the Civil War

Located on the banks of the James River is Hollywood Cemetery. Tomorrow's entries will feature a post dedicated specifically to this cemetery and its history, but for today's purposes, the focus is on the Confederate section of the cemetery and notable Confederates buried herein.

In 1869, the first memorial to Confederate soldiers was erected in Richmond. A 90-foot granite pyramid was built at a cost of $25,000. The structure was built without mortar. Construction was dangerous and the original crane did not reach high enough to place the capstone. A call for volunteers to climb to the top and place the capstone went forth, but no one responded. Finally, a sailor in prison across the river agreed to take on the challenge. In exchange for his successful completion of the task, he was granted his freedom!

Tombstones of Confederate soldiers killed during the Battle of Gettysburg

Not far from the granite pyramid are the resting places of soldiers killed in the Battle of Gettysburg. Originally interred in Pennsylvania at the site of the battle, these Virginians were disinterred and brought back to Richmond, where they were buried in Hollywood Cemetery.

From left to right: The graves of Gen. George Picket, Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, and Gen. Fitzhugh Lee
(Click on images to enlarge)

Several notable generals are buried here, including J.E.B. Stuart, George Pickett, and Fitzhugh Lee. Stuart distinguished himself at the Battle of Gettysburg by being late and was killed during the Overland Campaign in 1864. Pickett is best known for his ill-fated maneuver at the Battle of Gettysburg that is forever known as Pickett's Charge. And Lee has the distinction of being the nephew of beloved Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

The grave of Jefferson Davis,
his wife Varina Howell Davis, and their daughter Winnie.

In addition to several Confederate generals, the most notable person buried in Hollywood Cemetery is none other than Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America. Initially, Davis was buried in Louisiana, but in 1893, he was disinterred and brought to Richmond in a continuous funeral cortege that stretched from New Orleans to Richmond. His was the largest funeral ever staged in the South. Interestingly, the front of his tomb makes no mention of his service to the CSA, but highlights his service as a U.S. senator, cabinet secretary, and war veteran. It is on the back of his tomb that mention is made of his term as President of the CSA. Erected by his wife, Varina Howell Davis, it reads: President of the Confederate States of America, 1861-1865. Faithful to all trusts, a martyr to principle. He lived and died the most consistent of American soldiers and statesmen."

Old and new:
Headstones and markers of the Confederate dead in Hollywood Cemetery.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 5/08

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