Friday, May 28, 2010

Sgt. Matthew Goodson

While on our grand tour a week ago, we took a drive through Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg. We’ve been cemetery junkies for a long time and never pass up a chance to stroll through another. I actually teach a class on gravestone art, and I’m always looking to expand my collection of images that I use.

While driving through the cemetery, we happened upon the grave of a Tar Heel – Sgt. Matthew Goodson, Co. F, 52nd North Carolina Troops. Goodson and one other soldier (from Virginia I think), seemed to be the only Confederates buried in the cemetery. Evergreen is a very historic area, was part of the fight at Gettysburg, and has many historic graves, including members of the Getty family, John Burns, and Jenny Wade. If you are ever in the ‘burg, take a moment to drive by.

So, back to Goodson. A peek at his service record from the North Carolina Troop book series shows that he was a merchant in Cabarrus County prior to enlisting at the age of 34 in May 1862. He was mustered in as a private in Company A (not Company F, as his stone says), On March 1, 1863, Goodson was promoted to first (or orderly) sergeant of Company A. On July 3, 1863, during the battle of Gettysburg, he was wounded in the lungs and captured. Turning to a different source (Coco’s Wasted Valor), we learn that Goodson, after his capture, was taken to the Jacob Schwartz farm, which was being utilized as a hospital by the II Corps. Goodson lingered until July 12, 1863, when he perished. The sergeant was interred in a cornfield on the property of Schwartz, one of the three burial sites on the farm.

In January 1866, a local farmer wrote to Goodson’s widow, informing her that he had found the grave and was having it reinterred in Evergreen Cemetery, “where he would personally mark it well, care for it, and make sure it would never be lost.” Apparently, Evergreen Cemetery had voted to set aside a section of the cemetery for Confederate graves, just like the section it had for Union graves. In August 1867, the cemetery board decided to “move the Rebel dead buried in Ever Green Cemetery to a more secluded place…” As of 1990, that “seclude place,” according to Coco, had still not be found. Goodson’s grave has a Confederate marker from the Veterans Administration, along with an iron cross. I wonder, in the past twenty years, has his grave been found? Or is this just a memorial stone? Goodson has a cenotaph at the First Presbyterian Church in Concord, North Carolina.


Deb Novotny said...

The stones for Sgt. Goodson and Hooper Caffey of the 3rd Alabama Infantry are indeed cenotaphs. We do not know exactly where the two Confederates are buried in the Cemetery. Debra Novotny President Evergreen Cemetery Ass'n.

N8 said...

Do you know the middle initial of Matthew Goodson? I have a percussion rifle found in Vermont that is signed on the barrel "M. D. Goodson". I thought there might be a Southern connection as there is a star inlay in the cheek piece of the stock.

N8 said...

I have a percussion rifle that predates the Civil War. It is twice signed "M. D. Goodson" on the barrel, and is a small caliber Kentucky rifle that has a rifled barrel and would have been a sharpshooters weapon.
Just wondering if you have Sgt. Goodson's middle name ?