Tuesday, March 27, 2007

East Hill Cemetery, Bristol

Yesterday, we drove over to Bristol, TN/VA to have lunch with some family passing through. After lunch, we paid a visit to the East Hill Cemetery. Back last fall, I was speaking to the SCV Camp in Hampton, TN, and got some information on the cemetery.

East Hill Cemetery was begun in 1857 to meet the needs of the community of Bristol Tennessee-Virginia. During the Civil War, Bristol was the site of the junction of the East Tennessee & Virginia Railway.... About 1862, the Confederate Medical Department established hospitals in Bristol. Because of its strategic location and its railway, Bristol soon became a hospital hub for Confederate soldiers brought from battles for treatment. Those that did not survive were buried at East Hill, including many that were unknown.

The number of Confederate burials at East Hill were variously estimated to range from slightly over one-hundred twenty to nearly one hundred eighty. Recently, ongoing research has revealed that the number is closer to three-hundred and represents the largest location of Confederate graves between Knoxville, TN, and Roanoke, Virginia. Nearly every state in the Confederacy is represented. Furthermore, work by author and historian Gary Rose has helped to identify the names of over forty soldiers previously unknown.

Lieutenant William E. Allen and Lieutenant Robertson Bryan, who were two of the "Immortal 600" are buried here. James Keeling, the "Horatius of the South," who successfully defended the bridge at Strawberry Plains with the loss of his arm has a memorial here. Billy Wood, the last survivor of the young VMI Cadets who fought in the Battle of New Market on May 15, 1864, is buried here. The commanders of the 63rd and 62nd Tennessee, Colonel Abram Fulkerson and Lt. Colonel William Parker also lie here.

The battles fought by these men cover the history of the war. Captain Davidson is credited with firing the first artillery shot at First Manassas. The 37th Virginia, with many men buried at East Hill, was a part of Jackson’s famous "Stonewall Brigade." Men buried here fought at Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Spottsylvania, the Wilderness, Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chickamauga and Atlanta. They were there with Lee at Appomattox and at the end of the Army of Tennessee with Joe Johnston.

Among those buried here are members of the 29th NCT, the 39th NCT, the 57th NCT, the 72nd NCT, the 9th Batt. NC Reserves (Senior?), and Thomas’s Legion. I am hoping to get in touch with the some of the folks who are working on a Confederate monument for the cemetery and see if we can get those names.

The picture here is of the grave of James Keeling.

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