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His Name was Cut on a Tree

I don't do this often enough, but from time to time I'm prompted to check the new and updated databases page at Ancestry. U.S. Burial Registers, Military Posts and National Cemeteries, 1862-1960 was updated less than three weeks ago, so I decided to give it a browse.

First, here is a description of the database:
Many veterans of the U.S. armed services are buried in cemeteries established or maintained by the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) or the U.S. Army. The NCA maintains 131 national cemeteries and other smaller burial grounds. The Department of the Army is responsible for Arlington and the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery. These records also include burial details for soldiers who were disinterred and moved to military cemeteries sometime after their death.
Essentially, if you choose to browse, you are reading a burial register.

It's fascinating, yet heart wrenching at the same time. These soldiers died and were buried far from home, most likely without a single loved one in sight. In many cases, it was luck that their bodies were even found to be moved and given a more proper, fitting burial. I wasn't but a few pages in when Sgt. Marvin M. Chapin caught my eye. He was listed in a grouping of five names. These soldiers were all hastily buried near or on the property of a Mr. Stewart 3 miles north of Adairsville, GA: 2 in a cemetery, 2 in a field, and 1 in a garden. All died on 17 May 1864 during the Battle of Adairsville.

3 miles N of Adairsville near Mr. Stewarts in a cemetery 2 graves:
Pvt. Sylvester Fish - Co D, 44th Ill & Sgt. Marvin M. Chapin - Co I, 88th Ill
In a field at Mr. Stewarts 2 graves:
Pvt. George Trout - 88th Ill & Pvt. Henry Grenable - Co A, 44th Ill
In Mr. Stewarts garden 1 grave:
1st Lieut. Thos. T. Keith - Co D, 24th Wis Infy

What was it about Sgt. Marvin M. Chapin that jumped out at me? A note beside his name reads, "His name was cut on a tree."


What a touching act of respect. Someone, maybe a fellow soldier and friend, took the time to make sure this individual would be found and remembered.

All five of these soldiers were moved to a National Cemetery. I found Pvt. Fish, Sgt. Chapin, and 1st Lieut. Keith in Marietta National Cemetery at Cobb County, Georgia. Though I could not find information on the other two, I presume that is where their remains were relocated to, as well.

Marietta National Cemetery
Photo © 2011-2013 S. Lincecum

Comments

Anonymous said…
What a sweet story. It's heartbreaking to think how many soldiers went without any markers at all, but that someone took the time to carve the tree is really poignant.

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The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"

So I answered, "O Lord God, You know."

Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!' Thus says the Lord God to these bones: 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live...'" (Ezekiel 37:1-5, NKJV)