Showing posts with label Hollywood Cemetery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hollywood Cemetery. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

358...More than a Number

The tears blurred my vision as I stood before the marker which read 357 to 360.  David Ganus was number 358.  I had known before we arrived that he was buried in a "mass grave" in Hollywood Cemetery, and yet the hard reality of it really hit me when I found the marker.  I realized that he died in Virginia in December, and that the ground was likely frozen.  I realized that it was difficult for those of the time to keep up with the large numbers of the dying men in Winder Hospital and more specifically in the Civil War, and  I realized that they couldn't possibly provide caskets for each soldier, but it was difficult to see a number and realize that that was all that remained to mark the end of David's life.

David Ganus #358
Hollywood Cemetery
I reminded myself that as the war had raged on, that those regiments in battle had had little time or resources to do more than just bury the dead and even that created a huge challenge. The numbers of dead surged beyond anything they had anticipated and the lack of man power and materials with which to dig a grave made it difficult if not nearly impossible.  Consequently, many lie within the earth, their location still unmarked and unknown, and so I felt grateful that at least there was a record of David's death and a marker to indicate where he lay.

On our recent trip to Virginia, we took a Confederate Tour that ended at Hollywood Cemetery.  While there are many others buried there, including past residents of Richmond, and several US Presidents, a substantial portion of the cemetery is a burial ground for Confederate Generals and thousands of Confederate soldiers.

Our guide told us that the men were buried like they fought, shoulder to shoulder.  As I scanned the rolling hills of the cemetery,  I was amazed at the number of visible markers.  I  knew that the number buried there represented a small fraction of those that had died during the Civil War and that while some soldiers at Hollywood Cemetery had their own headstones, many others, like David, were buried in groups.  I decided to return another time to visit David's spot.

Hollywood Cemetery
My husband and I did return a few days later and I was able to find David's marker and had time to think and to feel.  It seemed that so much of that trip had been about thinking and feeling.  Thinking about those who had sacrificed all for a cause they believed in, thinking about what they had experienced,  thinking about what I knew about their families and what had come of the generations that had followed.  Being there and seeing where they had fought and where they had died brought about feelings that were deep and went way beyond anything I had experienced as I had read about their battles within the comfort of my own home.

As I thought about David's wife, Malinda and considered that she never remarried and died very poor, I realized that more than likely she never visited the grave of her husband buried nearly 600 miles from her home in Georgia.  Had any member of his family been able to stand at that spot?   Was I the first?

Hollywood Cemetery 
Those that take that solemn walk through the soldiers section of Hollywood Cemetery see a sea of stone set with numbers, each number representing a life.  For most soldiers there, there is no individual headstone with name, date of birth and death, no mention of children, parents or hobbies.  If each life was marked as they are today, what would those markers tell us of those that lie there?

 #358,  David Ganus was born in Fayette County, Georgia on October of 1836 to James Ganus and Elizabeth McCluskey and died on 23 December 1862 in Winder Hospital, Richmond, Virginia at the age of 26.   He was James and Elizabeth's fourth child and a brother to Mary, John, Margaret, Rebecca, Jackson, James, Calloway, Martha and Addison.  He married Malinda Davis on 14 March 1857 and was father to Mary, Nancy and Burton. He was a farmer and a Georgian and had a whole life ahead of him when he enlisted.  He was loved and undoubtedly as the war ended and men returned home ......... he was very missed.   He was so much more than a number.


To read more of David's story from an earlier post,  click here .

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014

Thursday, June 5, 2014

No Place for the Sick

It was no place for the sick or injured.  Damp, cold, lacking in blankets and tents,  the Georgia 53rd Company C,  "Fayette Planters,"  camped in a wooded area just outside of Fredericksburg, Virginia.  It was December of 1862 and it had already proven to be a bitterly cold winter.


Surgeon at work during Civil War
Library of congress 
It had only been eight months since David Ganus had enlisted in the same regiment of the Confederate Army as his two brothers-in-law, James Blackmon and Burton Cook.  He left behind his young wife, Malinda, and three small children, in order to fight for the southern cause. Many had thought the war would be short  and expected to return home to their families soon.

David's regiment fought in many of the historic battles and he managed to come through each without injury, but in the month of December, while his regiment was in Fredericksburg,  David became extremely ill.

David's service records indicate that early in December he became ill with the all too common typhoid, while other records show that he suffered exposure and pneumonia.  Whether he suffered from all three or there was confusion due to the extent of his illness or possibly lack of knowledgeable medical personnel to properly diagnose his illness, we get the picture of a man that was extremely ill. David's best chance for survival was to be transferred out of camp to the nearest hospital, which presented yet more challenges.

Bringing wounded soldiers to the cars
Library of Congress 
Initially there was no organized way to transfer the sick and the injured to hospitals.  Recently when we visited the Chimborazo Medical Museum in Richmond, Virginia, we learned about some of the heart wrenching conditions endured by the soldiers.   There we saw some of the crude and primitive medical instruments used in the treatment of the soldiers and watched a short video about the civil war hospitals of the area.

Eventually the military came up with a system where soldiers were transported from their camps to the hospitals, but the trip was often very difficult for someone whose health was already compromised.

The sick or wounded soldier was first taken in the back of a wagon over rough and bumpy dirt roads to a location where he could be loaded onto a train and he would then travel the rest of the way by rail. Miserably hot in the summer and bitterly cold in the winter,  void of even the simple comforts,  the rough trip was often excruciating for a soldier already in pain and misery.  David had to make the nearly sixty mile trip to Winder Hospital in cold, frigid December temperatures while suffering symptoms common to his illness that could have included fever, nausea, diarrhea, coughing, aching and fatigue.  However long the trip took, I am sure that for those in such desperate circumstances, it felt like eternity.

Hospital Ward Alexandria
Library of Congress 

Had David's brothers-in-law, James and Burton helped to load him onto the wagon?  Had they worried and tried to help as they watched their wife's younger brother grow increasingly more ill?  Did they write home to tell of his condition?

After about a week at Winder Hospital and just two days before Christmas, on December 23, 1862, twenty-six year old David Ganus passed from this life.  He died as most soldiers died, without any family at his side and far from home.  His body was taken to nearby Hollywood Cemetery where he was buried alongside many other Southern soldiers.

While sadly Winder Hospital no longer stands,  I knew that our Virginia trip would not be complete without a visit to Hollywood Cemetery to see David's final resting spot.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014


For more of David's story, see this earlier blog post .