Friday, April 14, 2006

Headstones placed on tombs of final crew of the Hunley


The Post and Courier
By Brian Hicks
April 14, 2006

For 142 years, the final crew of the H.L. Hunley has rested in one unmarked grave or another.

On Thursday, the Confederate Heritage Trust, including several Sons of Confederate Veterans camps and local re-enactors, remedied that historical slight. With care, they placed headstones over the graves at Magnolia Cemetery.

As Randy Burbage, a member of the Hunley Commission and the Trust noted, all of them were descendents of Confederate soldiers; they take care of their own.

The markers are identical to those of the first crew - discovered in unmarked graves beneath The Citadel's football stadium in 1999 - and paid for by the Veterans Administration.

The second crew, which included Horace Hunley, lies in the same plot shaded by live oaks.

The new headstones come four days shy of the two-year anniversary of the crew's burial.

The delay between the crew's burial and placing the markers was meant to give researchers more time to positively identify the men.

While the names of most of the eight are fairly well-documented, some questions linger about a few. Lt. George E. Dixon, the sub's captain, first officer Joseph Ridgaway, James A. Wicks and Frank Collins are almost certainly among the men. Arnold Becker and J.F. Carlsen are likely two of the others.

The remaining graves will be marked "Lumpkin" and "Miller," two of the names most often associated with the Civil War sub's final crew. Burbage said they decided to give all the men markers with the best information they have.

"We thought that would be better than 'unknown,' " Burbage said. "We felt like it was time."

A $500,000 donation from best-selling mystery novelist Patricia Cornwell will help fund forensic genealogist Linda Abrams' ongoing research of the crew in Europe, from which half of the crew hailed.

"If we have to change a couple of the headstones later, we will," Burbage said.

The crew, recovered in the submarine in August 2000 in the Atlantic, was laid to rest in a service on April 17, 2004.

For 136 years, these men lay in a hidden grave under the sea, lost to history. Now, their place in history is secure; their graves will never again be unmarked.



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