All posts by Adam Uslan

Hollywood Cemetery – Confederate Section

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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.

 

Field Report #2: St. Johns Church

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This stone is placed on the back side of the church near the entrance to the bathrooms. During the tour, we discussed that most of the buried dead were episcopalian churchgoers. However the difference in gravestones suggest other socioreligious influences. Many non-local stones were of New England origin, but the one shown above is of international origin. The inscription on the side of this stone identifies the deceased as Mary from Ireland who lived from 1789-1880. Her nationality is also exemplified through the shamrocks on top aspect of the stone.  Our knowledge of Ireland from this time period suggests that this person was catholic. Other features of this gravestone confirms this hypothesis.

The stone itself is unlike any other in the cemetery. The shape seems representative of a bed, which is a common theme in gravestone art. However this bed seems more ornate and literally shaped like a bed. Other gravestones that represent beds are not as obvious as this stone. Aside from the shape, the large inscription of “MOTHER” is unique as well. This inscription can be interpreted in many ways. Firstly, the deceased woman was most likely a mother who were close with her children. The inscription may be highlighting her main role as mother for her family. A more religious approach allows us to make sense of the catholicism in this stone. The deceased’s name, in addition to the “MOTHER” inscription, suggests that Mary mother of Jesus Christ is highly valued in the woman’s family. Catholicism is known for representing Mary as a nearly divine figure because she was blessed by God to bring Jesus Christ into the world.

Despite the piety present in this graveyard, many of the stones do not contain overt religious symbols. The religious presence is contained within the inscriptions.  However, this stone contains a very large cross on it which seems consistent with catholic ideals. Catholics are proud of their faith and show their faith through outward measures (i.e. kneeling, communion, etc.). It is clear that this woman wanted to be remembered for her devotion to Christ.