It is clear that the Confederate section of Hollywood Cemetery attempts to mimic the uniformity of a national cemetery. But as the losers of a bloody battle, the Confederate dead did not receive as much care and recognition from the US as compared to Union soldiers and soldiers of future wars. However, devoted souls of the south tried to give the Confederate dead the proper burial and recognition that soldiers deserve. Because of its spotty uniformity, it is important to take note of graves that are different from the rest and identify why they may be different.
This stone is about 1-2 inches thick and stands taller than all of the uniform confederate grave stones and even most of the other non-uniform grave stones. The tall monolithic presence of this stone embedded within a sea of uniform graves identifies it as different and separable from rest of the military graves. Because the sharp rectangular structure is simple yet so distinct from the others, one’s eye is immediately drawn to it because it conveys strength and sturdiness. But when one steps up to it and reads its inscription, he or she may be disappointed to see that it reads in the same fashion as all of the others. Yet one of the lines should stand out: “Age 17 years.” This short inscription answers the question of why this particular stone is so prominent and different from the others.
While death was plentiful during the civil war, death under the age of 18 was still fairly rare and definitely devastating to families and loved ones. The loved ones who designed this stone and its inscription wanted the dead young man to be remembered and separated from all of the other Confederate dead. Initially one may think that the ones left behind were bitter about this young man’s death and thus created a more distinct stone. However the Confederate symbols in the top corners suggest that this man was passionate enough about the Confederate cause to sacrifice his own life, and thus his family and loved ones attempt to signify that passion through a prominent grave stone.
In conclusion, the tallness of the stone and differentiation from the typical Confederate grave stone evokes a sense of importance and power that is not felt while looking over many uniform military graves. An initial reading of the inscription brings the stone back to uniformity, however William Wise’s young age at death suggests a reason for the difference and prominence of this stone. The Confederate symbols on the stone identify this man as passionate about the Confederate cause. This stone preserves the memory of this tragic young death while simultaneously conveying his passion for the Confederate army.