The Raleigh Ladies’ Memorial Association during the latter part of September 1883 made arrangements to have the North Carolina soldiers buried at Arlington Cemetery return home. For nineteen long years these soldiers have laid in an almost secluded spot in the Federal cemetery at Arlington, their graves marked by a simple pine board, on which was inscribed, “N.C. Rebel.” In the first week of October 1883, the remains were disinterred and brought to Alexandria, Virginia by undertaker Wheatley, where they were placed in four caskets for shipment to Raleigh.
The caskets under an honor guard moved through the principal streets of Alexandria to the wharf where they were conveyed to the steamer ‘George Leary’. Free transportation was furnished by the Potomac steamboat company and also for their escorts. When they arrived at Norfolk, Virginia they were met by The Norfolk Light Artillery Blues, The Norfolk City Guard and old Confederate soldiers.
The procession passed many thousands of people, especially ladies bearing flowers, lined the streets. The bells were tolled, all the flags on all the shipping in the port, public buildings and the United States custom house were half-mast. They wound slowly along the streets to the impressive music of the band from the Soldiers’ Home.
On arrival in Portsmouth the procession was met by the Old Dominion Guards, the Confederate veterans and the Ladies’ Memorial Association. During the passage over the ferry minute-guns were fired by the Chambers Battery. The caskets were transferred to the Seaboard & Roanoke railroad. On their entrance to Suffolk, they found the Suffolk Grays in line awaiting their arrival.
Upon arrival in Raleigh on the 16th of October, the remains were transported under a large escort to the capital building, where they laid in state over night under constant guard of the Raleigh Light Infantry. All the night there were visitors to the building. Early in the morning the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry took charge as guard of honor. The bank of flowers over the caskets grew hourly larger.
Early in the afternoon of the 17th, the procession of troops and dignitaries began to form in front of the court house, promptly, and began its march up Fayetteville Street to the Capital. On arrival at the capitol square, the Raleigh Light Infantry and the Bingham cadets brought the caskets out the east side and placed them in the funeral car. After the usual ceremonies the line of march was taken for the cemetery. All the way the streets were lined with people, while at the cemetery were gathered hundreds.
With the military drawn up on three sides of a square, they rendered the salute and the band then played a dirge. Then Governor Jarvis stepped into the centre of the square and spoke in clear and ringing tones, heard far and near. Calling them “patriot soldiers”, he said that as these comrades went forth in 1861 at the command of their State and of the Governor of North Carolina—the Governor of the State should today receive them back and speak for the State in so doing. The address was heard with the closest attention. In all that assemblage of five thousand persons not a sound was heard.
The four caskets containing the remains were laid in two graves immediately south of the Confederate monument. Volleys were fired over the graves, after which the full honors of a marching salute were paid as the troops filed past. Over the two graves were placed two markers stating “Arlington Dead.”
One hundred and ten years later on May 2nd, 1993, The Sons of Confederate Veterans erected a 2-ton granite marker over their resting place. The bronze plate on the granite had the names, rank, dates and units of 102 soldiers, with five unknowns (ten years later two of the five unknowns have been identify and a small granite marker was placed to them at the base of the large granite). The honor guard at the mass grave was provided by the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry. The same unit present in 1883 when the remains were reintered.
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard