More Civil War vets unearthed with urban sprawl

(June 14, 2004) — (Helena-AP) -- The discovery and recent reburial of the bodies of six Confederate soldiers at Helena illustrates a situation that historians say could become more common - the unearthing of the dead from unmarked graves as urban sprawl continues across the South. At Helena, the new grave restores some measure of dignity to the men, who remain "Known Only to God," as their headstone reads. A shallow, unmarked trench had held their bodies for 139 years until a bulldozer revealed the bodies in 2002. Richard Sommers, director of the U-S Army Military History Institute, says there was a great effort to treat the dead with honor during the Civil War - even the enemy dead. But often it was impossible to identify a soldier. And sometimes even when it was, wooden grave markers were frequently taken down later by area residents needing firewood. The result is perhaps hundreds, perhaps thousands of graves waiting to be discovered across the South.