- "There are specific styles of upright marble headstones to mark the graves of Civil War Union soldiers and Spanish-American War dead. These historical styles...are inscribed in raised lettering inside a recessed shield...The inscription on the recessed-shield headstone is limited. For Civil War Union and Spanish American War, a shield is inscribed which encompasses the arched name and abbreviated military organization. Because of the special design and historical uniform significance, no emblem of belief or additional inscription may be inscribed. The dates of birth and death are inscribed below the shield."
- "A special style is also available to mark the graves of Confederate war dead...The inscription on the special style for Civil War Confederate is also limited. The Southern Cross of Honor is automatically inscribed at the top. The name is arched, followed by abbreviated military organization and dates of birth and death."
So I was a little surprised to see the stone pictured above. Based on his unit and location, it would appear that James Wiley had been a Confederate soldier. Yet his final resting place bears a military headstone and design usually reserved for those that served the Union.
In an attempt to be sure this Mr. Wiley was indeed a Confederate soldier, I did a bit of research. According to Civil War databases on Ancestry and Fold3, there was a James M. Wiley that served as a 2 Sgt in Company B of the 1st (Ramsey's) GA Infantry. This soldier enlisted March 1861 and was discharged with a surgeon's certificate of disability five months later. Less than a month following the release, James M. Wiley enlisted in Company H of the 11th GA Infantry. Though it likely goes without saying, both of these units were part of the Confederate States Army.
It seems James M. Wiley, a Confederate veteran, received a Union-styled tombstone. Or did he? Could it be possible this stone is not a true military issue? The birth and death years being inside the shield does seem to contradict the "official" style of the Union stone. The question can also be raised as to when the stone was placed. I suppose whoever chose it might have liked the recessed shield design better. Or is it simply a mistake? What are your thoughts?
BTW, Mr. Wiley rests in Snellville Historical Cemetery at Gwinnett County, Georgia.