Archive for April, 2011

Heading home from Yorktown, Virginia, we decided to take a detour and visit Cold Harbor National Cemetery so we could stretch our legs. Excellent decision. Cold Harbor is a closed cemetery with the vast majority of burials being soldiers lost in the battles of Cold Harbor and surrounding areas. Four impressive monuments are in this cemetery and only one Medal of Honor veteran.

Augustus Barry is the only Medal of Honor recipient in the Cemetery. At the time of his death in 1871 he was superintendent of this very cemetery. 
As you enter the Cemetery, the first thing you see is a beautiful dogwood tree and a bronze plaque in front of it. The tree was starting to bloom despite the overcast skies, on the day we were there. The plaque in front of the tree says:

This Tree Dedicated by the Veterans Administration
in  1976 to America’s Medal of Honor Recipients
who helped make this BiCentennial Possible by
“Gallantry Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.”

Starting towards the flagpole the first thing you notice is a monument which appears to be a cannon stuck in the ground with the barrel being the only obvious feature. Not! That’s what I thought, until I “googled” it and discovered that it is made from an original artillary tube and set in cement.  

The bronze plaque attached to the monument breaks down the burials in this hallowed spot between known and unknown.

Burials 1952
Known 673
Unknown 1279

Headstones similiar to this dot the cemetery. Some with only one burial, some with more than two. It is a sad sight to see. Somewhere a widow or mother was waiting to hear the fate of her loved one, never to know what happened or where his remains were.

Continuing the walk towards the back of the cemetery one is immediately struck by what appears to be the starkness of the white marble sarcophagus that honors the memory of the unknown soldiers whose remains are interred in this spot. At one time, there were mounds on either side with the remains of buried under them.  If they were still there, we did not notice them.  The inscription on the sarcophagus reads:

Near this stone rests the remains of 889 Union soldiers
gathered from the Battlefields of Mechanicsville, Savage’s Station,
Gaines’s Mills, and the vicinity of Cold Harbor.”

As I walked through the cemetery, taking pictures of headstones and interesting sites, I came across the second tree I would photograph that day. If the headstone had, at one point, a name on it, it has been lost to eternity. This is not the first cemetery I have seen headstones gobbled up by trees.

Shaded by that large tree stands the 11 foot high New York Monument. Erected in 1909, it lists the names of Eighth N.Y. Heavy Artillery Roll of Honor. The Plaque begins:

Eighth N.Y. Heavy Artillery
Col. Peter A. Porter
4th Brigade, 2D Division, 2D Corps
Army of the Potomac
Killed or Died of Wounds Received in the
Battle of Cold Harbor, VA, June 3, 1864

It then lists 219 individual names and which company they were in.At the front of the cemetery is the monument erected by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is visible as you approach the cemetery with the Soldier at Parade Rest atop it. The wording on this tall monument is as follows:

Erected by the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
to all
Pennsylvania Regiments
Which Participated in the Operations
From May 31 to June 12, 1864
Incident to and During the
Battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia
June 1 – 3, 1864

The numbers of each Regiment involved are listed on the other three sides of this monument.Many of the headstones have just one letter, a partial name, or a first name and no last name, or just any information that could be found to identify a body. It showed the care taken to try to find out who each person was. Touching.Since we were on our way home from Yorktown, Virginia, I had to take a picture of the only Coast Guard Veteran I found in the cemetery. We had been in Yorktown, attending our grandson’s graduation from his Gunners Mate School, at no place else than the Coast Guard Training Center!and the last picture I took seems appropriate to end this blog with.

Rest in Peace, eternally, you to whom we owe so much!

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Seeing steam or smoke or something rise from the hood of our car while on the way home from the Williamsburg area on Saturday afternoon, we pulled over and called the Auto Club ~ my new favorite friend.  By the luck of the draw, we were taken to an auto shop in a fairly new shopping center in Centerville, Virginia.

At the corner of Linton Hill Road and U.S. 29, Located across from Virginia Tire and Auto of Gainesville and close to Subway and El Tio’s Mexican Grill, a small family cemetery has been preserved.  With nothing but time on my hands, I wandered over to photograph the cemetery and all of the headstones in it . . . all four of them!Scattered here and there are what appears to be worn markers or large rounded pieces of stone. Speculation leads me to believe they are worn markers.  Surrounded by a black iron fence, the cemetery has an unlocked gate on it. Faded and hard to read, the sign on the outside of the fence gives a little history of the cemetery.Evidently the Shirley family, Richard in particular, owned 400 acres in the area. He was a farmer and a Tavern Keeper. Richard, his wife and at least two of his children are buried in this plot.  When the land was developed the cemetery was preserved. The maintenance and upkeep of the site is now maintained by the developers as part of the property.

So many times you hear the opposite.  Developers buy the land and cemeteries and headstones are moved and/or are lost forever. Kudos to the developers!

My car? What about my car? Well, it appears there is enough unused space to bury it in that cemetery but, I’m sure that will never happen! We will wait out this holiday weekend in a motel room, biding our time until Monday morning when the above referenced Tire and Auto shop can order and replace the tiny little pressurized hose that cracked.

Happy Easter from the Hampton Inn in Gainesville, Virginia where we hope to find a restaurant within walking distance is open on Sunday. . . .

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