All across the nation, South and North alike, are cemeteries in dire need of repair. As more and more people continue to wake up and join the fight to preserve our heritage and to secure the existence of our people and a future for white children, it is imperative that we also remember our gallant dead. A vital part in honoring these heroes is the regular care and upkeep of their graves.
More than likely, within a few miles of where you currently sit, lies a cold, forgotten headstone, overgrown, caked with dirt, or damaged from close to a century or more of neglect. The broken-down state in which we often find the final resting place of these brave souls is unconscionable. These men marched away from their families and homes to defend their way of life, suffering for years in conditions that we cannot begin to comprehend.
They could not have foreseen the war dragging on for those long years, with supplies becoming increasingly scarce as time wore on. Yet, they persevered, willingly marching, sometimes barefoot and starving, limping along in all manner of weather conditions to stand shoulder to shoulder with family and lifelong friends in defense of Dixie.
Now, back to the matter of their graves. In March of 1906, an act was passed by Congress, which authorized placement of headstones for Confederate veterans who were interred in Confederate plots and National Cemeteries. Then, in February of 1929, Congress passed legislation which expanded this to include provisions for headstones for graves in private cemeteries as well.
The headstones furnished for Confederate graves are thirty-nine inches high, twelve inches wide, and four inches thick, and were carved from marble or other durable stone. Confederate stones are unique that the tops are pointed, as opposed to the rounded tops of other veterans’ headstones. In May of 1930, the War Department authorized the inscription of a small Confederate Cross of Honor on the front, in addition to the veteran’s name, rank, company, and regiment. Due to personal preference, or because many veterans had passed before the official design was implemented, I have found that outside of National Cemeteries, the vast majority of Confederate graves are adorned with various designs of privately purchased stones. Approximately seventy-five percent of veteran gravestones in my area were purchased privately.
In caring for gravesites the first step is to research the locations of Confederate graves. Once you’ve selected a cemetery in which to search, there are a couple of techniques that can be used to locate individual Confederate graves. I personally prefer to go to the cemetery and visually examine each stone, looking for anyone born between the years 1800 and 1850. Once a good candidate is found, go to FindAGrave.com, pull up your selected cemetery, and perform a search for that person.
Many times you’ll find that someone has already noted military service, if applicable, for that individual. If not, dig deeper. Go to NPS.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers.htm and search for them. For a more thorough search, a paid subscription to Fold3.com yields access to an amazing, extensive collection of military records.
Once you’ve found and confirmed the location of a Confederate burial site, it’s time for some scrubbing. In reality, a simple brush and water does wonders for cleaning the stone. It’s a good idea to bring your own water, as most cemeteries won’t have a water supply. Typically, a few inches of water in a 5 gallon bucket, coupled with a hand size brush and a smaller detailing brush, is just right for the job. Begin by scrubbing the top, back , then front, using the palm brush with liberal use of the water. Use the detailing brush to get into the crevices of the engravings. At this point your water probably looks like something out of a stagnant pond, so dump it and get a few inches of fresh water to pour over the stone as a final rinse.
Your stone probably looks much better than before, but probably has some staining, which is to be expected. The stains have been setting in since installation, and you’ve been there for ten minutes. There are a couple of options of specially-made cleaners that can be used to lighten up these stains. I recommend Wet-N-Forget brand which is available in both concentrated and spray ready forms, and can generally be found at any Lowe’s home-improvement store.
So, as we make our push to turn back the tide of “progress,” and return America to our Christian values and traditions that made us great, let us also invest some time into exploring and preserving the physical connections we have to the men who fought and sacrificed so much for those very same values and traditions.