For many people in Lynchburg, the “Confederate Cemetery” is the Old City Cemetery. Early maps often referred to Confederate Cemetery, not Old City Cemetery. Why are there over 2,200 Confederate soldiers, from 14 states, buried in Lynchburg?
Although there was no significant military engagement in or near Lynchburg, the city was home to the second largest permanent hospital center in the Confederacy. The Civil War was the first war, fought in the United States, where injured soldiers were removed from the battlefield, placed onto box cars and taken to the nearest “hospital town” for treatment, surgery or to die. As Lynchburg had three major rail lines soldiers were oftentimes brought here. Tens of thousands of soldiers, both Union and Confederate, were treated in local hospitals (previously used as tobacco warehouses). When they died they were brought to the city’s only public burial ground, Old City Cemetery, where it was customary to bury “strangers” and those without relatives nearby.
In 1861 the first of 2,500 Civil War soldiers was buried in the cemetery. There are over 2,000 white marble headstones in the Confederate section, each with two lines of inscription. The first line gives the soldier’s initials and the second line gives an abbreviation for his military unit and state. The headstones were installed by the Southern Memorial Association between 1904 and 1915, at a cost of $1.25 each.
In 1866 the Union soldiers buried in the cemetery were exhumed. Many were sent to their hometowns. Approximately 200 Union soldiers were relocated to Poplar Grove National Cemetery near Petersburg, VA.
The Confederate Section is bordered on 3 sides by a boxwood hedge and the old brick wall on the fourth. The 500-foot long, five foot tall brick wall was constructed in 1886. You enter this section of the cemetery through the entrance arch. Made from granite, the arch was built in 1926. It serves as a gateway and a memorial.
In 1869 the Monument to the States was erected. It is the oldest Confederate monument in Virginia and the fourth oldest in the United States. Each of the 14 blocks bears the name of a state represented by soldiers buried here. The order of states is based on the space needed for the lettering, not the number of soldiers from each state buried here.
In 1931 the large concrete bench, Veteran’s Bench, and the domed temple or belvedere, Speakers Belvedere, were built for the annual Memorial Day ceremony. The Memorial Day ceremony has been held almost every year since 1866. It is a most interesting and educational ceremony to attend. Review the Old City Cemetery calendar of events for next year’s date and time.
In addition to the graves of individual Confederate soldiers is a section called Negro Row. Ten African-Americans are buried within or adjacent to the Confederate Section. Most of those buried in Negro Row were slaves who worked in the local military hospitals. Others included body servants of Confederate military officers. The only woman buried in the Confederate Section during the war was a slave known only as “Jane”.
The first Civil War soldier buried in Lynchburg was Pvt.Thomas P. Plunkett. He died of disease at the old Lynchburg College hospital on June 17, 1862. There are six known soldiers buried here who died in the Battle of Lynchburg, June 17-18, 1864. Three known soldiers buried here were deserters. All died when shot for desertion.
Using data from George A. Diuguid’s excellent cemetery records a six-sided kiosk and information display was erected in 1995. Descendants can use the kiosk to search for their soldiers name and burial location.
Throughout June, July and August when the Cemetery hosts free, walking tours (10:00 am each Saturday) of the cemetery time is always spent in the Confederate Section. The Candlelight Tours, held during October, usually tell the story of a Confederate soldier buried here. Or, if you would like to do research on your own burial records are available in the Cemetery Center.
During the past two summers local professors and students interested in archaeology have been conducting “below ground archaeology” surveys in the Confederate Section. By removing and scraping the soil only six inches deep usually reveals very clear answers to grave locations and orientation. The soil in a grave shaft is looser and a different color from the undisturbed “walls” of the grave shaft. Although graves are traditionally six feet deep, graves found here are often only four feet deep or sometimes as shallow as one foot deep.
Almost every guest who has stayed with us at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast has visited the Old City Cemetery. Some take advantage of the tours or events, others wander and enjoy the peacefulness of the cemetery grounds where they might take pictures or contemplate those who have passed on.
The graves found in the Old City Cemetery represent the diversity of the citizens of Lynchburg buried there. This diversity also allows for a large variety of gravestones or monuments. Due to lack of maintenance of the cemetery grounds for many years, the passing of time and hand-hewn gravestones, plus the lack of record keeping, many of the grave markers are missing. Those surviving represent a variety of funeral art. Some were handcrafted with primitive tools, others created in workshops by professional stone cutters. All are a distinct form of American expression.
Gravestones mark the grave. They are often made up of a headstone (a memorial stone set at the head of the grave, often with a raised top) and sometimes with a footstone (marking the foot of the grave). More wealthy citizens might have had table tombs, box tombs, obelisks, or pedestal tombs. A mausoleum is a large, stately tomb, most often built entirely out of the ground. During the last half of the 19th century all gravestones became thicker and more massive. Victorian influences added symbols. Symbols found in the Old City Cemetery include: angels-both flying and weeping, birds-symbolizing eternal life, candles and flames, crowns-representing glory after death, doves, wreaths, open Bibles, the hourglass-time’s inevitable passing, and sleeping lambs-symbolic of the many children taken too frequently by the epidemics or simple illnesses that plaqued children long ago.
Let’s take a quick “tour” through the cemetery and discuss some of the unique gravestones.
- Just inside the entry gate, at Fourth Street, you will find Terriza Wallace, Jan 10th 1807 April 29 1808. This hand-chiseled round stone of local granite has been preserved. Not the first burial in the cemetery, but the oldest, original marker remaining.
- Next to Terriza is Katie Vernon Metcalfe (1836-1858). Her intricately carved marble headstone bears the classic Victorian motifs of willow, an urn, flowers and obelisk.
- Nearby is R.B. Gaines (died 1811). He was buried in a barrel-vaulted tomb of handmade Virginia brick which is capped at head and foot with Lynchburg greenstone.
- The marble tombstone of Judge William Daniel, Jr. (1806-1873) is a well-preserved example of an epitaph with Biblical and biographical messages, as well as the symbolism of God’s hand descending from Heaven holding the scales of justice. Judge Daniel was Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia from 1846 until 1865 and lived at Point of Honor.
- A wrought iron enclosure holds the graves of Maria Ball Carter Tucker (died 1823) and her young daughter Rosalie (died 1818). Maria Tucker was the great niece of George Washington. A marble false crypt rests over one grave. An antique rose, referred to in the poetic inscription on the lid, has survived all this time within the enclosure.
- Further down the hill you will find the life-sized cut tree trunk monument to Sophia Rhodes (died 1889). This carved limestone monument is typically Victorian and symbolic of her life cut short.
There are many other interesting gravestones and monuments found throughout the cemetery. A walk through the cemetery is always pleasant and sometimes educational. Each Saturday morning between now and the end of August tours of the cemetery are given at 10:00 am. They are conducted by various people who work at the cemetery, so attending more than one usually imparts different information and stories than another. The tours typically last about one hour. No reservations are required. The is no admission fee.
If you are staying with us at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast and would like to take advantage of one of these tours let us know. We will be sure that you are served your breakfast with plenty of time to allow you to get to the cemetery for the beginning of the tour.
Less than 20 miles east of Lynchburg, VA you will find DeVault Family Vineyards. Founded in 2000 by Terry and Sharon, when Terry purchased the 32-acre property that allowed Terry to return to his farming roots, the vineyard is a family dream come true. The family has spent eight years perfecting the art of grape cultivation and have shaped the land into a stunning, serene landscape that you enjoy when visiting the vineyard. The tasting room was added in 2009 to allow guests a rustic, but comfortable place to sample the various wines and enjoy the view of the rolling vineyard. In addition to the tasting room you can enjoy an indoor swimming pool, tennis court, volleyball and basketball courts, and a stocked fishing pond. Or bring along a picnic blanket and wander through the vineyard until you find just the right spot to enjoy your DeVault wine.
DeVault Family Vineyards produces seven varieties of wines. There are three reds: a sweet red table wine, a dry red, which is a complex bouquet of blackberry, gala apples and a touch of spice plus an oaked Norton. Two whites are available: a sweet white table wine and a dry white with a light, fruity nose. Two blends complete the inventory: their watermelon wine and a semi-sweet blended blush. The red and white table wines make a delicious Sangria, delightful on a warm sunny day in Central Virginia.
Are you looking for something to do? Saturday, July 2nd DeVault Family Vineyards will be hosting their 6th Annual Watermelon Festival! Between the hours of 3:00 pm until 11:00 pm you can enjoy a variety of food vendors, five additional wineries, a local micro-brewery, arts, crafts and other vendors selling unique hand-made wares, six bands performing on two stages, a magician, pony rides and a talent show. There will be something for everyone! Tickets go on sale June 22nd or you may purchase them at the gate (at an increased price). Ticket prices are as follows: Adult $15, age 13-20 plus designated driver $10, kids 7-13 $5. Visit the DeVault Family Vineyards website, firstname.lastname@example.org, to purchase your tickets in advance.
DeVault Family Vineyards are located one-half mile off Route 460 in Concord, VA. 247 Station Lane, Concord, VA. 434.993.0722 or email@example.com. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday between 11 until 6, after May 1st. Other hours may be available with prior scheduling.
The Harley Owner Group to visit Lynchburg. Starting Wednesday, June 22 until Saturday, June 25th the city of Lynchburg will be filled with H.O.G.s! Approximately 2,000 rally participants will meet in Lynchburg to participate in numerous activities.
There will be music, vendors, activities for all ages, games, obstacle courses, riding competitions, self guided rides, tour rides and more. Highlights of the four days of events include: guided tour rides to Red Hill, Appomattox Courthouse National Park and the National D=-Day Memorial, a lighted bike show, motorcycle riding concepts courses, historic architecture walking tou of downtown Lynchburg and a parade.
The Harley Owner Group hosts rallies throughout the year in various cities across the United States. The last time this event was held in Lynchburg was 10 years ago. The Milwaukee-based Harley Owners Group has more than 1 million members and 1,400 chapters around the world. Benefits of belonging to this group include access to the Harley Davidson Museum, a magazine, members website, e-newsletter, touring handbooks that are road ready with maps and touring tips, merchandise and touring contests.
So, when you hear the “roar of thunder” between June 22nd and June 25th it may just be one of the many Harley enthusiasts experiencing our town and location in Central Virginia.
The Lynchburg Regional Airport will host the 2016 Lynchburg Regional Airshow the weekend of May 21 & 22. Once again this year the US Navy Blue Angels will be the featured, premiere performers. America’s longest serving flight demonstration squadron will be performing at 34 locations in the United States this year. The Blue Angels were formed in 1946 and is made up of both Navy and Marine aviators. 2016 is their 70th anniversary!
In addition to the Blue Angels the performer lineup includes other aerial performers, more than 15 static displays, vendors and those who love flying and airplanes.
A few of the aerial performers include
- The Aeroshell Aerobic Tea
- The US Navy Leap Frogs-an all volunteer team of active-duty personnel from Naval Special Warfare (including Navy Seals) who comprise the US Navy Parachute Tea
- The de Havilland DH 100 Vampire-a British jet fighter that was entered into service with the Royal Air Force in 1945. The Vampire was the first fighter jet to be powered by a single engine, to cross the Atlantic and to land on an aircraft carrier. It was used as a front-line fighter until 1953. The RAF retired this fighter jet in 1966.
The theme of this year’s airshow is “A Salute to Service”. This theme was selected to honor those who serve to protect our country and communities, specifically our military and first responders. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to support these individuals.
Tickets can be purchased at www.lynchburgairshow.com. General admission tickets are currently $25, children (6-12) $8, and VIP tickets $125. Tickets can be purchased on site the days of the show at $35 each. Tickets are valid either Saturday or Sunday and include parking. Gates open each day at 9:00 AM and the show will conclude by 5:00 PM.
Guests staying with us at The Carriage House Inn Bed & Breakfast can request a box lunch, should you not want to purchase food at the airshow. Just let us know at least 72 hours in advance of your reservation. Call us, 434.846.1388 to discuss room availability. We attended the show during it’s last visit to Lynchburg, 2011, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Old City Cemetery, in Lynchburg, VA, is hosting the 21st Annual Antique Rose Festival on Saturday and Sunday, May 7 & 8, 2016.
The Antique Rose collection was planted in 1986 on both sides of the 800 foot remains of the 1860’s old brick wall. The 60 varieties planted here are representative of rose history from before 1581 thrrought the 19th century. The roses chosen include the full range of classes and colors exhibited by these ancestors of modern day roses. The original plants were gathered from across the United States and Canada, including local gardens.
The “mother roses” have been grown locally. They are cut and rooted by local volunteers, who take care of them throughout the year. These cuttings, showcasing about 120 varieties of roses this year, will be for sale on both May 7 & 8. Prices will be dependent upon the size of the rose plant. Old City Cemetery is also selling some perennial off-shoots this year. Some of the perennials will be clematis, snowball, deutzia and rosemary plants.
The roses and perennials will be sold starting on Friday, May 6th at 5:00 pm. The sales continue until Sunday, May 8th at 5:00 pm.
On Sunday, May 8th at 3:00 the Mother’s Day Rose Walk will take place. This walking tour of the roses growing along the brick wall will describe and explain the history of these roses. Some will be in bloom, while others will be in bud. The walking tour should delight your senses!
For more information you can contact Old City Cemetery at 434.847.1465 or visit www.gravegarden.org.
The pictures of the roses, found in this blog post, were taken by Mike Bedsworth during last year’s rose festival.
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