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Chapter 23 - Oakwood Cemetery

The road cut through the Oakwood-Chimborazo Historic District, a blend of assorted architecture mixed in with the dilapidated.

 

A half-mile down, they entered through the twin iron gates of Oakwood Cemetery, anchored by square stone pillars, capped by sculpted upside-down giant acorns with oak leaves on their sides.

 

Oakwood’s claim to fame came during the war when the Confederates secretly buried Federal Colonel Ulric Dahlgren here.

 

During the war, thousands of Union soldiers who weren’t sons of admirals were buried at Oakwood, mostly the Belle Isle prison camp dead. After the war, 3,200 of them were removed and buried at the Richmond National Cemetery, four miles away on Williamsburg Road.

 

The only Civil War soldiers left at Oakwood were Confederates. . . . The graves were marked with small cubes of marble, rising about six inches out of the ground, providing only enough room to engrave three identification numbers on their sides to mark three separate graves.

 

The stones at first were unimpressive, but once a visitor realized that each tiny monument represented the graves of three Confederate soldiers, the gravity of the ground kicked in.

 

Pat followed the long, curved, flat lane past the obelisk and two cannons in the middle of the dead.

 

On the left was a bandstand, once used for the large Memorial Day celebrations.

 

Below the bandstand a plaque read:
1861–1865. Lest we forget. The sacrifices and devotion of the women of the Confederacy. Lee Chapter 123. United Daughters of the Confederacy.

 

With Confederate dead now on both sides of the road, the pavement dropped off and turned into dirt and gravel.

 

Pat took the left fork over a low concrete curb, following it into a grove of southern red oaks and pignut hickories.

 

He stopped under the trees at the head of a turnaround circle adjacent to a woods fringed with blooming mimosas disseminating their honey-fruit scent.

 

He paused and looked back over the mass of little stones. “Let’s get out of this lonely place.”

Oakwood Cemetery

Oakwood-Chimborazo Historic District

Richmond National Cemetery