Silverdale Confederate Cemetery

Stopped by the Silverdale Confederate Cemetery yesterday afternoon. You can find the entrance between White Lightning Harley-Davidson and WoodSpring Suites on Lee Highway in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

A nearby Tennessee Historical Commission marker explains:

Here are buried 155 soldiers of the Army of Tennessee who died in hospitals during the mobilization for Bragg’s Kentucky campaign of Sept. – Oct. 1862. Their graves, formerly distinguished by wooden markers giving name, rank and organization, are now unidentified.

Plaques on the interior of the arch elaborate (in slightly odd English):

General Braxton Bragg mobilizing his army during summer of 1862 for his Kentucky Campaign, culminating the Battle of Perryville Oct. 8, 1862 camped a part of his army in this vicinity. Hospitals were located near by. Great number of his soldiers were sick and many died. About 155 were buried here, their names and commands marked on wooden boards that decayed. No records was kept and this grave yard neglected.

It’s a shame that this should have happened, although I suppose people had higher priorities at the time (i.e. survival). Subsequently:

During the late [eighteen-]nineties this cemetery was discovered by Capt. J.F. Shipp and it’s history disclosed. It’s condition reported to the N.B. Forrest Camp U.C.V., the ground purchased and substantial wire fence enclosure was erected by camp comrade J.W. Willingham, chairman during 1926-27. The following committee was appointed by the camp. Solicited and received contributions from generous citizens of Chattanooga, and a permanent rock wall was erected around the premises. 

A view of said wall as you approach.

The main gate…

…which is adorned with the seal of the Confederate States of America, featuring George Washington, that Southern planter, slaveholder, and leader of a previously successful secessionist revolt. 

The main memorial.

Some soldiers have been identified and listed.

A few others have their own gravestones. Note that while Confederate veterans were not declared U.S. veterans (contrary to a popular belief), Confederate veterans are entitled to a grave marker courtesy of the U.S. government, thus does this one match the standard font and layout, but is decorated with a CSA emblem

The flag flying in the cemetery is one that you don’t see much. Usually when the stars and bars is flown, it’s the original seven-star variant. This one, however, shows thirteen stars, for the number of states claimed by the Confederacy by 1862. (Plus, Tennessee wasn’t one of the original seven states of the CSA, so it makes sense that this one should fly here.)

Otherwise, the cemetery is largely devoid of monuments…

…except for this one, for something I had never heard of before. The text reads:

The Order of the Southern Cross was founded at Gray’s Mill on August 28, 1863, following initial meetings at Tyner’s Station, to foster Brotherhood and Patriotic Sentiment within the Confederate Army of Tennessee. As part of this aim, a charity fund to aid soldiers’ widows and orphans was established. The principal founders included Maj. General Patrick Cleburn, Lt. General Leonidas Polk and Chaplain Charles Quintard. Today the OSC continues to preserve Southern Heritage through financial grants for historical and educational projects. This monument was dedicated in 2014 in honor of the 150th anniversary of its founding.

Note the appearance of Polk’s flag on the OSC emblem. The cemetery is not maintained by the OSC, though, but by the Chattanooga Area Relic and Historical Association, and kudos to them for doing so. (I should think that Confederate cemeteries ought to remain uncontroversial.) 

The references to Braxton Bragg bring to mind the controversy over renaming Fort Bragg, home of the 82nd Airborne Division. According to Wikipedia, Bragg:

is generally considered among the worst generals of the Civil War. Most of the battles in which he engaged ended in defeat. Bragg was extremely unpopular with both the men and the officers of his command, who criticized him for numerous perceived faults, including poor battlefield strategy, a quick temper, and overzealous discipline. 

It sounds to me as if support for renaming Fort Bragg should be very widespread indeed, even among those who are inclined to think well of the Confederacy!

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