Civil War soldier buried in Pineville cemetery

A burial was held for a Civil War soldier more than 150 years since their passing at the old Rapides Cemetery.
Published: Feb. 18, 2022 at 7:38 PM CST
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PINEVILLE, La. (KALB) - On the morning of Feb. 18, 2022, a ceremony was held to bury the remains of a Civil War soldier at the Old Rapides Cemetery in Pineville.

On April 23, 1864, Confederate and Union forces faced off at the Battle of Monet’s Ferry in Natchitoches Parish. 147 years later in 2011, remains of a soldier from the battle were discovered by a farmer in that area.

The remains were excavated and studied by forensic anthropologists at LSU’s Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Lab. The lab determined that the Unknown Soldier was killed by a “mini-ball,” a common ammunition during the Civil War. Although other artifacts like buttons and a belt buckle were found alongside the remains, it was not determined if the Unknown Soldier was part of the Confederate or Union Army.

Among other responsibilities, Dr. Charles McGimsey with the Louisiana State Division of Archeology is tasked with finding places to bury the remains of other people found in similar circumstances.

“It is a little unusual that we can tie it (the remains) so clearly to a particular point and time, in this case even specifically to the war,” said Dr. McGimsey.

The remains of the Unknown Soldier sat in storage at a lab for 11 years after it was excavated. Now, many years after the battle, the Unknown Soldier has been laid to rest in the Old Rapides Cemetary in Pineville, where dozens gathered at the ceremony.

“To me, he’s not necessarily a Confederate or Union, but he is an American veteran and it means a lot to get him and get a headstone even though we don’t know his name. We know what he was doing and he fought for America,” said Gordon Jeffers, a past commander with the Disabled American Veterans at the ceremony.

Local historian Michael Wynne was approached and asked if he would assist in planning the burial.

“I happily said I would, but I never realized all that was involved,” said Wynne. “It has taken months of planning for this ceremony, and it was worth every bit of the effort that went into it, there were so many people who contributed with this.”

Wynne, well versed in the U.S. and Louisiana history, has contributed to historic preservation projects in the past and knew the importance of giving the Unkown Soldier a proper burial.

“This was a human being that gave up his life for his country, even though we’ll never know who he was, that’s an inspiration to all of us right there,” said Wynne. “This monument, this tomb, will be here long after I’m gone, hundreds of years, maybe more. People can always look upon his grave, the tomb of Central Louisiana’s Unknown Soldier, and get inspiration.”

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