65 Civil War veterans honored at Berea Cemetery

BEREA, Ky. (WTVQ) – Saturday, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, department of Kentucky, hosted a ceremony at the Berea Cemetery to honor Civil War soldiers who are buried there.

Along with a rifle volley and flag ceremony, there was also a brass band ensemble who played taps and civil war music.

Following a tradition established in 1892, the Memorial Day program will include speakers relating the history of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), the Women’s Relief Corps and Roll Call of the 65 soldiers whose final resting place is the Berea Cemetery.

Three interpretive markers were donated and dedicated to the 65 veterans and a headstone dedicated as well to private Horace Yates an African American soldier.

The three interpretive markers were funded by private donations with additional resources contributed by the following organizations: African American Veterans of Madison County, African American Genealogy Group of KY, Battle of Richmond, Berea Cemetery; Berea College, Madison County Historical Society, Sgt. Elijah P. Marrs Camp No. 5, Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War.

The Grand Army of the Republic was a fraternal organization founded in 1866 and was composed of veterans of the Union Army, Navy and Marines who served in the Civil War. The GAR linked veterans through their shared war experiences and was one of the first organizations to support voting rights for black veterans, promote patriotic education, help establish Memorial Day a national holiday, lobby to establish regular veterans’ pensions and to support Republican political candidates.

Its peak membership, at 410,000, was in 1890, a high point of various Civil War commemorative and monument dedication ceremonies. The GAR was succeeded by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

Madison County was also home to three additional GAR posts: O.P. Johnson Post #18 at Round Hill, T. D. Sedgewick Post #130 in Richmond, and Marion Murphy #161 in Kirksville.

The Women’s Relief Corps Auxiliary #48 was composed of wives, daughters and widows of these veterans and provided benevolent care for the veterans and their families. Many descendants of these veterans still live in the vicinity.

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