In this photo taken Sept. 28, 2011, a gravestone marks the entrance of Valley Hi Cemetery in Woodstock, Ill. Established in 1884, modest grave markers bear only a name and the deceased's year of birth and year of death. A few graves of World War II veterans and one for "Baby Doe" have more elaborate grave markers. The cemetery is the final resting place for McHenry County's indigent. (AP Photo/Northwest Herald, Lance Booth)Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
BALDWYN, Miss. — After being unknown and forgotten about by many people, a message board at the head of their gravesite will serve as a reminder of the 30 men resting in a mass grave at Brice's Crossroads.
Thanks to a $3,000 grant from the Natchez Trace Parkway and years of work by people like Roger Hansen, Edwina Carpenter and many others, remembering will now be as easy as reading the names off the wall. Carpenter, director of the Mississippi Final Stands Interpretive Center, has helped revive and keep alive the Battle of Brice's Crossroads and the soldiers who died there.
"About 100 men died here and 30 are in that mass grave," said Carpenter. "A lot of people have worked really hard to get these men identified and no one has worked harder than Roger Hansen. He has spent 25 years of his life getting these men identified. So today is a special day."
The message board displays a grid with the names of the Confederate soldiers who were killed during the battle on June 10, 1864. It was dedicated this past weekend.
A Pascagoula resident, Hansen has done countless hours of research all over the country to identify soldiers killed during the Civil War in battles fought in Mississippi. He has led identifications and erections of gravestones in seven confederate cemeteries in Mississippi, including the ones at Brice's Crossroads.
"There are so many men who died during the Civil War who are unidentified and no one should be unidentified," said Hansen. "The records are out there to identify them but it takes a lot of research and work to get it done. A lot of work has been done here at Brice's but we still have a lot more work to do."
Hansen said he is currently trying to locate the gravesites of two Confederate soldiers that are said to be buried near an old church.
Dillion Hall of Booneville designed the brochure for Brice's Crossroads Confederate Cemetery. Carpenter said Hall put several hours in designing and came up with a great finished product.
"He did a great job on the brochures," said Carpenter. "We're glad to see young people taking an interest."
Michael Spears brought his 7-year-old son to the ceremony.
"This is our state history and our kids need to know it," said Spears. "A lot of men shed blood right here where we are standing today so the least we can do, young and old, is come by every now and then and say thanks."
About half a dozen Civil War re-enactors joined the ceremony to give the men buried there the military ceremony they didn't receive all those years ago.
"These were our guys and they deserve to be laid to rest and remembered the right way," said James Carnathan. "I know their families would want them laid to rest the right way."