Inscription and Notes:
Our unknown Confederate Dead 27 Confederate soldiers buried here.
Picture below is of the 57th Ga re-enactors watched by war widow.
Military Service: Confederate States of America
This Monument was the first monument in Georgia to honor its fallen soldiers.
The monument arrived in December, 1867, and was erected in the Memory Hill (then
called City Cemetery) early in 1868. The Ladies Memorial Association had a very
difficult time paying for it, as the times were hard. On one occasion they gave
a supper at Newell Hall to raise funds to finish paying for the monument. Friends
were invited to "come and bring your dimes with you." No date was placed on
it because everyone thought 1868 would be remembered forever. Mr. Thomas H.
Whitaker was the speaker on this great occasion. Finally, after years had passed,
in order that Milledgeville should not forget that this monument was placed
on the square which contained the graves of a number of unknown soldiers who
had died in hospitals here, a marble slab was attached to the monument with
Our Unknown Dead
Buried in Soldiers Square
Confederate Monument Erected
To Their Memory by the
United Daughters of the Confederacy
That slab is gone and a plaque now reads, "Our Unknown Confederate Dead."
Research in 2003 using the Southern Recorder, Sept 13, 1864, led to
the discovery of the names of Confederate soldiers who died at Brown Hospital
in Milledgeville between July 9 and September 10, 1864. These men, with the
exception of one whose body was shipped elsewhere for burial and one who was
buried in another part of Memory Hill, were buried in the square now occupied
by the Confederate Monument. On April 26, 2003, at the annual Memorial Day ceremony
organized by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, these previously "unknown"
soldiers were named and honored for the first time.
Identifying the Unknown Confederate Soldiers of Milledgeville's Memory Hill Cemetery
By Hugh T. Harrington and Louise M. Horne, Robert E. Lee Chapter #115, Milledgeville, GA
In April of 1866, the ladies of Milledgeville, Georgia, put flowers on the graves of the few Confederate soldiers whose bodies had been returned for burial from distant battlefields and hospitals. There was a need to honor the dead; yet the vast majority of those who had made the ultimate sacrifice were not buried here. The ladies immediately formed a Monument Association to raise money for a Soldiers Monument to honor all of the Confederate dead. Raising the money was difficult in the aftermath of the War, and the Monument was not delivered until December of 1867. Even then it was not paid for entirely. The ladies held a final fund raising supper and asked people to bring dimes with them to pay for the Monument.
At first it was thought that the Soldiers Monument should be placed near the Courthouse. Later, the location was changed to the cemetery where it was installed over the dead from the hospital. In July of 1864, Brown Hospital had moved from Atlanta to Milledgeville. The hospital was named for Governor Brown and was to be used exclusively for treating the Georgia State Militia. During the summer and fall, the hospital grew from one hundred patients to six hundred. It overflowed from the building which housed it into tents and other vacant buildings in the city. Those who died in the hospital were buried together, in unmarked graves, in the cemetery. In later years two of the men who died in the hospital were identified and their markers were placed in the lot with the Soldiers Monument.
In April of 1868, the Soldiers Monument saw its first Memorial Day. The newspaper, The Federal Union, commented that "the Ladies of Milledgeville paid the annual offering of respect and love for those brave men who fell in defense of the lost cause. The monument to the strange soldiers who were buried here was beautifully ornamented with wreaths and garlands of flowers. We hope our people will continue every year to celebrate the heroic deeds of those who died for the lost cause. If we can do nothing more for them, we can cherish their names and long keep their memory green in our souls."
At some time in the 1930's, the granite Soldiers Monument was enhanced with a marble plaque bearing the inscription: "Our Unknown Confederate Dead." Each year since 1868 the Soldiers Monument has been the focal point of the Confederate Memorial Day ceremonies in Milledgeville. Countless veterans, widows, their children and generations of their descendants have come to the Monument to hear speeches, lay flowers and remember the men who fought for the Southern cause. And, never to be forgotten were the unknown soldiers who are buried around the Monument.
It never occurred to anyone that the identities of these men would, or could, be discovered. They were unknown and would remain so forever. However, in February 2003, a researcher uncovered a list of soldiers who died at Brown Hospital. He knew that the soldiers who had died in the hospital were buried in unmarked graves under the Soldiers Monument. He ran his eye down the list. As luck would have it, the researcher had worked indexing Memory Hill Cemetery. A glance at the list revealed a name that was familiar. It was the name on a marked grave of a Confederate soldier that is in the lot with the Soldiers Monument. Further research, using copies of the original handwritten hospital admittance and discharge records, provided unit information and more complete names for the formerly "unknown" soldiers.
To see the previously unknown soldiers, click the Find others in this cemetery lot button below.
The bronze marker to the unknown soldiers: