"......for he [our God] will not suffer their cries any longer."
Yea, Why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and
also orphans to morn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the
ground for vengeance upon your heads?
It will not go unnoticed; for ye have blasphemed character and works of
good men sleeping in the ground and ye are arrogant and unrepentant before the Lord.
Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you; and the
time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln dedicated the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, with the
immortal words: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation..." These words,
which will probably last as long as this Nation lasts, were spoken to dedicate a cemetery for the Union soldiers who gave
their "last full measure of devotion" on Gettysburg's bloody battlefield. But what honor was accorded the Confederate dead?
Where were they laid to rest?
Following the Battle of Gettysburg, the Confederate dead were buried along the roads, shoved into trenches, or consigned
to common graves. The Southerners were seen as traitorous invaders and their bodies were not accorded the respect afforded
the men in blue. One newspaper reporter wrote: "The poor Confederate dead were left in the fields as outcasts and criminals
that did not merit decent sepulture." President Lincoln's immortal words were not spoken over their unattended, and unmarked,
Reacting to the lack of proper burial for the Southern dead left at Gettysburg,
the Southern states launched efforts to return the bodies of their sons to their native states after the War. In Richmond,
the Hollywood Memorial Association started a fund drive to secure the money to bring the Confederate dead from Gettysburg
to Richmond for reburial in Hollywood Cemetery. Their efforts proved successful; and, on June 15, 1872, a steamship docked
at the wharf at Rocketts Landing on the James River with boxes containing the Confederate dead. The soldiers who left to fight
for the cause they thought was just had come home.
No one will ever know for sure, but in one of the precious boxes were probably
the unidentified remains of Brigadier General Richard B. Garnett, who was killed while leading his men in what history has
labeled "Pickett's Charge." This charge, which took place in the afternoon of July 3, 1863, started when General George E.
Pickett ordered his men forward with the cry, "Charge the enemy and remember old Virginia."
With muskets firing, flags waving, bayonets fixed and swords pointing forward, the flower of Southern manhood moved forward,
ever forward. The fighting was bitter as the Confederates flung themselves across a stone wall which separated the two armies.
The battle was desperate; the casualties appalling; and the Union's fate hung on the outcome.
But it was the Confederacy that died on that stone wall as the men in gray were
repulsed by the Union forces. Their charge had failed. General Garnett, who was ill on the day of the charge, led his men
into what was described as a mission to "hell or glory." As he plunged with his men through a hail storm of lead, Garnett
was ripped apart by grape shot and was left unidentified on Gettysburg's field.
The honor these dead Confederates were denied in life, they found in death. On June 20, 1872, fifteen wagons were assembled
at Rocketts Landing to carry the boxes containing the remains of the Confederate dead. Each wagon was draped in mourning and
was escorted by two former Confederate soldiers with their muskets reversed. The funeral procession, which included both political
as well as military leaders of the recently defeated Confederate nation, wound its way up Main Street as it moved toward Hollywood
Wagons to Hollywood from Rocketts, 27th & Main St. west.
The buildings along the route were draped in black, and they echoed to the plaintive
sound of the funeral march. As the wagons passed slowly by, "many eyes were filled with tears and many a soldier's widow and
orphan turned away from the scene to hide emotion." When the procession reached the cemetery, the boxes were unloaded and
buried in a section known as Gettysburg Hill. The soldiers who had escorted the bodies were ordered to "rest arms" as their
comrades were laid to rest in Virginia's soil.
Stained glass Hollywood Cemetery
There was nothing comparable to the Gettysburg Address for these soldiers. There were no memorable orations; only a prayer
by The Rev. Dr. Moses Hoge of Richmond's Second Presbyterian Church was spoken. The prayer contained these lines: "We thank
Thee that we have been permitted to bring back from their graves among strangers all that is mortal of our sons and brothers."
On Jan. 6, 1899, Rev. Dr. Hoge passed and now sleeps with his 18,000 beloved Confederate soldiers at Hollywood, Richmond.
Dr. Hoge prayed for those who had survived the war and then intoned, "Engrave
upon the hearts of...all the young men of our Commonwealth the remembrance of the patriotic valor, the loyalty to truth, to
duty, and to God, which characterized the heroes around whose remains we weep, and who surrendered only to the last enemy...death."
Following the prayer, three musket volleys were fired in a final tribute to those whose bodies were laid to rest for all eternity
on Hollywood's sacred hill. The sounds of the muskets echoed across the cemetery, across the River James, and they still echo
today across the pages of history.
On June 15, 1872, a steamship docked at the wharf at Rocketts Landing on the
River James at Richmond, with boxes containing bones from the bodies of Gettysburg Southern Confederate dead. Our
boys had come home.