Removal of the Fallen from Chickamauga and North Georgia

By Marvin Sowder

In July of 1866 thirteen ladies at Resaca, Georgia, joined together to form the “Ladies Memorial Association” for the purpose of completing the establishment of a Confederate Cemetery there that would become the first of its kind in the state. As the cemetery work was nearing completion the ladies needed $500 for the project to be debt free, so the committee under the leadership of Miss Mary J. Green decided to ask the Georgia Legislature for help.

In November of 1866 Miss Green traveled to the state capital at Milledgeville to make her appeal. She was the first female known to appear before the Georgia Legislature and as a result of her petition she was not only granted the $500 she initially requested for the Resaca cemetery but an additional $3,500 so that she could establish another resting place for the Confederate soldiers who had fallen at Chickamauga and other sites along the line of Sherman’s March through North Georgia.

The experience she had gained establishing the Confederate Cemetery at Resaca helped to prepare her for the task that lay ahead. Miss Green and Mrs. Mary A. Williams of Columbus, Georgia, were appointed trustees for this new project and formed the ”Georgia Memorial Association” to take on the charge given them, a charge that would take nearly two and a half years to complete.

Along with the new year of 1867 came the duty of selecting a suitable location that could best facilitate the reburial of the hundreds of Confederate soldiers in question. Two sites were under consideration, one in Marietta and the other in Dalton. On 22 June 1867 the following letter was sent to the trustees of the “Georgia Memorial Association” bearing the signatures of sixty three prominent individuals from Dalton.

“We the undersigned citizens of Dalton do earnestly request you to locate the cemetery of the Chickamauga dead upon the hill in Dalton presented for that purpose by General Duff Green. Large numbers of these dead are from our section and we desire our relatives and friends to be buried in our midst. This is the nearest and most sensible point convenient to Chickamauga. Our place is fast growing and our people will liberally aid you in building the cemetery and keeping it up. They will take pride in making it a spot worthy of its purpose. We strongly desire it to be locate here and respectfully ask your consideration of our claim.”

Much to the disappointment of the citizens of Dalton, the site chosen was on a plot of land given by Mrs. J.H. Glover in Marietta. Like Dalton, it had an established Confederate cemetery but the Glover site lay directly on the Western and Atlantic Railroad and simplified the task of getting the remains to the burial sites.

On 25 September 1868 Miss Green and Mrs. Williams were issued free passes to travel on the railroads in Georgia as necessary in pursuit of their mission. Records indicate three separate removal efforts were carried out before the job was completed. The first removal appears to have taken place in July and August of 1867 with the removal of 14 remains. The second removal appears to have taken place starting in October of 1867 with the removal of 151 remains and were likely carried out by Mr. William R. Hunt and Mr. Joe Cavender of Walker County.

The third and final removal began in March of 1869 and was conducted in a much more businesslike manner with signed contracts that defined job descriptions and explained what was expected of all parties involved. On 5 March 1869 an agreement was signed by Miss Green as trustee and James M. Scott and Charles B. Lyle, doing business as Scott & Lyle of Dalton. The trustees were to furnish boxes to Scott & Lyle for the exhumation of the remains at convenient places along the railroad and from there to be shipped to the cemetery in Marietta.

Scott & Lyle agreed to oversee the work personally, one or the other being present to see that the work was done well. Sawmill operators, Mr. Ellsworth and Mr. Hall, were paid $500 on 13 May 1869 at Hall’s Mill for 1,000 boxes. These were used by Scott & Lyle as their work progressed. Both Scott and Lyle were Confederate veterans and took their job seriously, keeping separate lists and records that are now housed in the Georgia State Archives.

After removing approximately 615 remains from various locations on the Chickamauga battlefield the group began a search near Ringgold, Georgia. After removing approximately 190 remains from in and around Ringgold they moved their operation to Mr. Anderson’s old field (Location of Anderson Cemetery today) on the south side of Chickamauga Creek. There were 137 remains removed from there. They left one Kentuckian in Anderson’s old field and two Kentuckians were left in the graveyard at Ringgold. Because new headboards had been placed on them it was thought that they might be inquired for. There were 44 remains taken from the hospital site at Cherokee Springs and six of General Cleburne’s men were removed from the field between the second and third railroad bridges below Ringgold. Five were taken from White Oak Mountain east of the Ringgold Depot.

Ninety remains were removed from the Citizens Cemetery about one mile from the village of Tunnel Hill, Georgia on the Cleveland Wagon Road. (This is the Foster Cemetery on Ga.2 today.)These ninety boxes were placed in the cars at Tunnel Hill Friday evening, 16 July and were forwarded to Marietta on Monday, 19 July.  As a footnote, 67 of these 90 have been identified and the list of names is on display at the Tunnel Hill Heritage Center in Tunnel Hill. To complete this massive project, 47 remains were removed from Catoosa Springs, where military hospitals had been located during the war.

Near the end of their report Scott & Lyle stated that there were about 32 remaining yet on the right side of the road at Catoosa Springs, and are probably still there today. This is about the time when Scott became ill. On 28 July 1869 Scott & Lyle presented an itemized bill of $1,429.70 to Miss Green and Mrs. Williams, trustees, showing an unpaid balance of $213.70. They had exhumed the remains of 1,126 Confederate soldiers and shipped them all to Marietta where they rest today.

Their job was completed but the story does not end here. On 3 July Scott had reported that many of the coffins that were removed from the cemetery in Ringgold had initially been buried in low places and when exhumed were full of water and the bodies were in partial states of preservation.  All of these had to be placed in the boxes together with articles of clothing and blankets, making them heavier than the ones from the battlefield which were usually dry and free of matter.

It may be that Scott exposed himself to the dreaded typhoid at that time. Later that month he became ill and passed away on 16 August at the age of 36, just 19 days after finishing the job. On the other hand, Charles B. Lyle lived a long life in Dalton before passing away in 1894 at age 86. Majors Scott and Lyle, as they were affectionately known, are buried close by each other in family plots among the cedars on the ridge in West Hill Cemetery. May their deeds be long remembered.

Mary Green and the First Confederate Cemetery in Georgia

By Martha Locke

Who was the person who with her own hands gathered up and reinterred the remains of the

Confederate dead at Resaca, Georgia? She was Miss Mary Jane Green, a Georgia born woman

who will always be remembered for the loving care given to the soldiers who wore the gray and

a woman who through one of the most this tragic period’s in our history made a difference. To

learn how this genteel southern lady became the keeper of the Confederate Cemetery there we

must begin on May 14, 1864, when the Confederate Army of Tennessee under the command of

General Joseph E. Johnston, confronted the Union Armies under the command of General

William T. Sherman. The fighting took place about fifteen miles south of Dalton near the small

town of Resaca, Georgia, in what historians have termed as one of the fiercest battles of

the war. A plantation owned by Colonel John F. Green covered much of the area where the

battle took place but the Green family was not at home that day having refugeed a few weeks


After the secession of hostilities in 1865 the Green’s decided to return home and were

horrified by the waste and destruction that greeted them. After the Battle of Resaca the Union

Army removed all their dead from the field to cemeteries in Chattanooga and other places but

not so for the Confederate dead. They were left on the field in hastily prepared shallow graves,

and were most likely buried where they fell in battle. These makeshift graves dotted the

scarred and shell torn battlefield and after a year of neglect bones could be seen protruding

from many of the mounded up graves due to the elements of rain and erosion. Some of the

grave sites had head boards for identification which proved to be valuable information.

Mary Jane and Martha Phyatt Green, daughters of Colonel Green

realized that something had to be done for the remains of these southern patriots. At the

urging of his daughters, Colonel Green donated a two and a half acre plot of land where they

could begin the arduous task they had set for themselves of reinterring the remains of 450

Confederate dead. The area chosen was a beautiful spot complete with a gently flowing stream

running through the middle.

A family friend, Colonel James Robertson landscaped the cemetery by symmetrically arranging

the graves in different plots, one for each of the twelve states represented there. But there was

still a serious problem. The women had no money to advance their cause. In July of 1866

thirteen ladies from Resaca joined together and formed the “Ladies Memorial Association,” and

elected Mary Green to serve as their president. They began a letter writing campaign to

family and friends throughout the state pleading for help in raising the funds necessary to

complete their endeavor. The war had just ended a few months earlier and Georgia had

suffered much but the people from across the state answered the plea donating what they

could.  Mary had a list of the dead compiled by soldier’s name, regiment and state served and

had it published in Southern cities newspapers. Heartbroken mothers, wives and daughters

responded sending what they could to help Mary properly bury their loved ones.

Word soon spread to other states and many responded with contributions to the cause.

However the cemetery project turned out to be more costly than expected, so the

committee decided to make an appeal to the Georgia State Legislature for $500.00. Mary Green

was chosen to represent them and became the first woman to appear before that distinguished

body of men. Her plea was heard and from the meager state resources she was granted the

$500.00 for the completion of the work. This being done, the Ladies Memorial Association held

their first Memorial Service there on October25, 1866. Reflecting back, Mary Green wrote with

pride, “The day selected for the dedication, October 25, 1866, was bright and beautiful. One of

these charming days of our Indian Summer where no sound was heard save the fluttering of

falling leaves, a suitable accompaniment to our sad thoughts, as we stood in the bivouac of the

dead.” She continued in her writing describing the entry point of each state starting with

Georgia, “Let me attempt to describe our cemetery. It embraces two and a half acres and is

enclosed with a very neat fence having two small gates and between them a similitude of a

huge gate, an arch springing over each gate.

The name of the cemetery is, “Confederate Cemetery”, with the name and date of the battle

painted on the center one. Now we enter. The first object that meets the eye is an arch

wreathed with evergreens, upon which is inscribed “Georgia receives into her bosom the fallen

sons of her sister states.” Turning to the right we advance upon the principle walk, a beautiful

winding way that passes under another evergreen arch upon which appears the in scripted,

“Our Noble Army of Martyrs” and below the answering motto, “They Died For The Land They

Could Not Save”.  Wooden grave markers would show the name of the soldier, state served,

company and regiment. Soldiers that could not be identified were buried in a central plot

around a large granite cross with the words “To the Unknown Dead”.

She continues to describe each state and their motto beginning with Alabama as “A few steps

further brings us to the Alabama lot, where sleep 25 of her brave sons, and her own motto

 beautifully decorated ‘Here we rest’, designates her portion of the ground. 

Mississippi is more largely represented with her heroes upon the hillside, their white headboards

gleaming under the large shade trees. Her mottos are on one side of the lot ‘Peace to the brave’

and the corresponding one on the other ‘Their days of strife are past’.

Then continuing our walk around a bold curve, the names of our Georgians greet us and

conspicuous in the foreground is their motto ‘They sleep beneath their nation’s sky’.

While passing from Mississippi lot to the Georgia lot, we see on our left hand first a group of five

graves, representing almost as many states. Two Louisianans (one of them a member of

Washington’s Artillery) whose headboards are connected by a garland of cedar and that

saddest of all words ‘Exiled’ printed upon it. Yes, exiled from home by Sherman’s vile orders. By

the side of these is a Texan with a large ‘Lone Star’ ornamenting his headboard. Next is an

Arkansan in whose half-wreath is twined the words ‘Over the River’. Last is a representative

from the ‘Land of Flowers’, upon whose headboard is placed an exquisite wreath of evergreens

and roses. (Ed. Florida was known as the land of flowers).

Leaving this most attractive group, we see just beyond us a cluster of eight from which states

they were sent forth we have no means of ascertaining. All we know is their simple names, and

that they were soldiers of the Confederacy who died in her defense. In the midst of them we

place their motto, wreathed with holly ‘They sleep upon the field of battle’.

Now we approach a beautiful lot under the shade of whose trees lie the sons of Kentucky, the

dark and bloody ground. Only twelve have been able to reclaim, and here we have laid them

with their motto ‘Rest, warriors, rest’. Among them is a young boy of 16, who is an especial pet

with us among our dead heroes, and upon his grave, beside the usual dressing, was placed that

touching line ‘Somebody’s darling slumbers here.’

Turning from poor Charlie’s grave, we direct our steps toward one of the most beautiful spots in

the cemetery. A magnificent oak adorns it, and as if protected by this gigantic sentinel, rests

those around whom a mystery is still hanging. Belonging neither to the unknown nor the known,

we have laid them here, hoping their friends may yet be able to identify them; among them

sleep two of Lee’s veterans. Overlooking these graves we have placed against our giant of the

forest three tablets – occupying the highest position was the name ‘Albert Sydney Johnston,

Shiloh 1862’ and below, on one side, ‘Polk, Kennesaw 1864, Our Warrior Priest’ and beside him

‘Cleburne, Franklin 1864’. ‘In Memoriam’ appears above the three and the whole draped with


We have yet to visit the Tennessee lot-so leaving this frail monument eloquent in its simplicity,

we pass over the brook by a little bridge, stopping at the spring to drink of its clear, cool water,

we turn our steps to where Tennessee’s stalwart sons of repose, and which I think the most

beautiful in the whole place-it may be from my fondness for every little bit of water, for just

behind them runs the brook and nearby is our little pond whose banks next spring we hope to

have ornamented with lilies. Tennessee’s motto is ‘Their names are bright on Fame’s proud sky’.

And now we have made a circuit of the grounds, and in that circuit passed completely around

the ‘Unknown – by far the greater number there, 246 their muster roll calls for and mournful it

indeed is to see so great a proportion with ‘Unknown C.S.A’ inscribed upon their headboards. In

the center of this lot we raised a mound upon which the grass is already green, and upon the

top a single Cross with these words ‘To the Unknown Dead of the Army of Tennessee’.

After lingering here awhile, thinking of those and the many illustrious names of which the South

could boast a few years ago, with saddened hearts we turn away-continuing our ramble we

approach a little knoll upon which in time we hope the women of the South will rear a

monument to our gallant dead-but where stands at the present a beautiful temple of evergreen

garlands of cedar, cypress and white flowers are festooned from pillar and above we read

‘Gently we lay them underneath the sod and leave them with their fame, their country and their


When Mary Green asked the Legislature for $500.00 to complete the work at Resaca, she not

only received the $500.00 but was granted an additional $3,500.00  so that she could establish

another resting place for the Confederate soldiers who had fallen at Chickamauga and along

the line of Sherman’s March through Georgia. The burial grounds for this project was donated

by Mrs. J.H. Glover and located in Marietta Georgia.

In addition to the many accomplishments of Mary Green she was a proud member of the

United Daughters of the Confederacy®, joining the Atlanta Chapter #18 on September 16, 1895,

on her Confederate record. Her application states “I am the daughter of John F. Green. My

present address is Atlanta, Georgia. I was born in Georgetown, SC. I was in Confederate service

in 1864 as a matron in the Ocmulgee Hospital, Macon, Georgia. Dr. Stanley Chaille of New

Orleans, Surgeon in Charge. I had under my care a ward of 70 men, sick and wounded. After the

war I was engaged in the burial of those who fell at Resaca and later appointed by the State

(Georgia) to remove the dead from the battlefield of Chickamauga also. I am a woman who

can give proof of personal service and loyal aid to the Southern cause during the war.”

In her honor the chapter placed a marker at the cemetery on the

arch at the stone gate that reads, “To the memory of Mary Green who established this Resaca

Cemetery, the first in the state for our Confederate soldiers”.

Beginning in 1986 to date, the Harriet Gold Chapter of the United Daughters of the

Confederacy® from Calhoun, Georgia holds an annual Confederate Memorial Service on April

26th at the cemetery and continues the tradition of placing flowers and flags on the graves of

the fallen heroes.

In 2008 the Atlanta Chapter 18 and Pvt. Drewry R. Smith Chapter2522 Dalton, of the United

Daughters of the Confederacy ® jointly held a rededication service at the cemetery and placed a

beautiful Memorial bench there in memory of Mary Green.

When you visit the Confederate Cemetery at Resaca you can tour the grounds and observe the

very graves that Mary Green so lovingly cared for throughout her life. She died January 2, 1924

at the age of 83 and is buried in the historic Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta alongside her parents

and family members.



Jim Burran

One summer Sunday in 1888, two Union veterans of the Battle of Chickamauga returned to the old battlefield, now overgrown and barely recognizable as the site of an epic conflict involving upwards of 120,000 soldiers.  Henry V. Boynton and Ferdinand Van Derveer had served as officers in the Army of the Cumberland, and like so many others from both sides who were visiting the scene 25 years later, they were struck by the tranquility of the place.

During a three day period, September 18-20, 1863, one of the largest battles of the Civil War was fought between the Union Army of the Cumberland and the Confederate Army of Tennessee in a thickly-wooded area along Chickamauga Creek in Northwest Georgia.  When it was over, a combined total of almost 35,000 men had been killed, wounded, or declared missing in action.  By 1888, however, reconciliation was in the air.  Civil War veterans everywhere wanted to remember, and now that they were mostly middle-aged, they wanted future generations to remember their sacrifice.

Thus it was that Boynton and Van Derveer began on that Sunday in 1888 to visualize a national military park at the old Chickamauga battlefield that would also incorporate portions of the Chattanooga area where the fighting had continued at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge.  By the late 1880s, veterans’ groups, including the Society of the Army of the Cumberland and the Army of Tennessee Veteran Association, had joined forces in sponsoring battlefield reunions and employing these outward signs of reconciliation to apply pressure on Congress to provide funding for battlefield preservation.

Henry Boynton became the chief organizer of the Chickamauga-Chattanooga battlefield preservation effort.  Unlike the Gettysburg Memorial Association, at that time working to develop a military park with primary emphasis on the Federal side, Boynton wanted the Chickamauga park to be a bisectional effort equally representing both North and South.  To that end, Boynton decided that the best way to drum up political support for the park would be to start by organizing a grand reunion, involving veterans from both sides, to be held during the next anniversary of the battle.

Over 12,000 people congregated for this event on September 19-20, 1889, which included an enormous barbeque at Crawfish Springs (present-day Chickamauga, Georgia).  From this gathering the Chickamauga Memorial Association was formed.  The association’s first president was John T. Wilder, commander of Wilder’s Lightning Brigade at the Battle of Chickamauga, while current US Representative and former Confederate general Joseph Wheeler assumed the office of vice-president.

Boynton was in a unique position to fan political sensibilities in Washington.  By this time he was serving as the Washington correspondent for the Cincinnati Gazette and had cultivated many relationships in Congress.  Thanks to his efforts and those of sympathetic elected officials, a bill to create the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park under the supervision of the War Department was introduced in the House of Representatives on February 6, 1890.  Its sponsor was Representative Charles H. Grosvenor of Ohio, another survivor of the Battle of Chickamauga.

Once the bill reached the Senate it attracted enthusiastic support from former Confederate generals including Randall Gibson of Louisiana and Edward Walthall of Mississippi.  Yet another Civil War veteran then serving as President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison, signed the Chickamauga bill into law on August 20.  This legislation included an initial appropriation of $125,000 for land acquisition and construction, which included most of the original Chickamauga battlefield together with selected sites in and around Chattanooga.

Secretary of War Redfield Proctor took only 3 weeks to appoint a commission to oversee development of the park.  The initial membership of this commission included two Union veterans, Joseph Fullerton and Sanford Kellogg, and a Confederate veteran, former Maj. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart.  A staff position, designated “historian and secretary to the commission,” was filled by Henry Boynton.  The commission convened in Washington, DC, for its initial meeting on September 19, 1890.

Thanks to inspired work by the War Department, the commission, and hundreds of veterans from both sides, the park proceeded rapidly and by June 1894 was almost ready.  More than 500 tablets and markers had been installed along the battle lines while 21 states were in the process of erecting a variety of monuments.

The Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park was dedicated in a series of ceremonies on September 18, 19, and 20, 1895.  A crowd estimated at 50,000 to 75,000 descended on the area, including several detachments from the US Army led by Lt. Gen. John Schofield.  Other dignitaries included Vice President Adlai Stevenson, former Confederate General James Longstreet, and Ohio Governor (and future President) William McKinley, who arrived with a military escort that included “the Toledo Cadets mounted on bicycles.”

A spirit of reconciliation swept over the dedication ceremonies, and almost all of the speeches given at the occasion reflected that theme.  Typical were the remarks of former Confederate general and current US Senator John B. Gordon of Georgia, who praised “the heroic remnants of the once hostile armies of the sixties who now meet as brothers.”

Soon there would be similar dedications at Gettysburg, Antietam, Shiloh, and Vicksburg, all of which took place between 1895 and 1899.  As the 20th century dawned, even the youngest surviving Civil War veterans were now approaching old age.  Those fortunate enough to participate in the 50th Anniversary (Semi-Centennial) of the Civil War from 1911 through 1915 knew that this would be the last grand act of reconciliation during their lifetimes.  Fittingly, the September 1913 commemoration of the Battle of Chickamauga took as its overall theme “One People, One Nation, One Flag,” and featured a parade that included old soldiers in blue and gray marching side by side.  The war was over.

Henry V. Boynton