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Time arrives for Unknown Soldiers reinternment at Rest Haven

Visitation starts this morning at 8 a.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church for Franklin’s Unknown Soldier and months of preparation to give the young Civil War-era soldier a proper internment will culminate with Saturday’s funeral and burial in Rest Haven Cemetery.

Since the discovery of the skeletal remains of the soldier — thought to be a white male, age 18 to 20, according to forensic analysis, volunteers have worked to make sure whether he was a Union or Confederate soldier, he gets a proper burial.

The highlight for many of the three-day ceremony will be the appearance of sons of Civil War veterans — one Confederate, one Union — who will meet for the first time over the unearthed remains of an Unknown Soldier, whose body never made it home from the battlefield 145 years ago.

Harold Becker, 93, of Grand Rapids, Mich., and James Brown, Sr., 97, of Knoxville, Tenn., will join together to help re-inter the Unknown Soldier’s remains.

Becker’s father, Charles Conrad Becker, fought through the horrific battle at Franklin with the 128th Indiana Infantry, U.S.A., while Brown’s father, James H. H. Brown – 8th Georgia Infantry, C.S.A. – saw his regiment cut in half at Gettysburg. On Saturday, Oct. 10, they will shake hands over the new grave of an American soldier.

“How the community responded to this says a lot about Franklin,” said City Administrator Eric Stuckey. “They have rallied around and saw it as opportunity to focus on our special history. This isn’t a Union or Confederate soldier, it is an American soldier just like Franklin is a beautiful American town.”

The city’s Battlefield Task Force, along with local historians and government officials, led the recovery of the soldier’s remains and will direct the funeral ceremony, with officials like Mayor John Schroer and wife Marianne donning period costumes for Saturday’s funeral at St. Paul’s Episcopal.

The committee has brought many special touches to the event, from the handmade “toe-pincher” casket by local craftsman Van Baron to the artistically crafted monument at the grave, made from pieces of the original columns of the Tennessee State Capitol, which have been resting in a reliquary behind the old Tennessee State Prison and were discovered by Robin Hood, a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer and member of the committee, along with Dr. Sam Gant, also a committee member and commander of the Sons of Union Veterans camp.

“This ceremony we are planning is not a Confederate event. It is not a Union event. It is an American event,” Hood told aldermen last month.

“I think it is going to be significant, not just for people who are interested in history or reenactors,” Hood said. “I think it will be a significant event for Franklin and all of Tennessee. I think the long-range return for our investment in this event, it is immeasurable. It will be a catalyst for future events and recognition of Franklin as a historic tourism destination.”

The Unknown Soldier’s casket will be borne from the church by Union and Confederate uniformed pallbearers by a horse-drawn caisson through a processional featuring a color guard, honor guard and Civil War-era bagpiper along Franklin’s Main Street to Rest Haven Cemetery. At Rest Haven, a brief eulogy will be delivered by Union and Confederate chaplains and the two Civil War veterans’ sons will shake hands at Rest Haven as dirt from 18 states represented at the Battle of Franklin is used to fill the grave. A 21-gun salute will follow.

Rest Haven is the final resting place of many Civil War-era veterans — Union and Confederate — and at least one soldier who died during the Nov. 30, 1864, Battle of Franklin — Capt. Tod Carter, who died a few days after the battle at his family’s home on Columbia Avenue.

For the Oct. 10 processional, West Main Street from Seventh Avenue to Five Points and Main Street from Five Points to Second Avenue will be closed from midnight to noon on Oct. 10. Third Avenue from the Square to North Margin and North Margin from Fifth to Second Avenue will be closed from 11 a.m. until noon Oct. 10. The Five Points intersection will be closed to all traffic from approximately 10:45 a.m. until 11:15 a.m. Oct. 10 while the processional occurs.

Access to Saturday’s service at St. Paul’s will be limited to those in period costumes, although visitors may line the processional route and be in the Rest Haven area.


Schedule for

Saturday, Oct. 10


8 a.m. Re-Enactors depart Eastern Flank Encampment for St. Paul’s


8:30 a.m.  All Ceremony participants (incl. pall bearers) report to Founder’s Hall, St. Paul’s


8:40 a.m. Horse drawn caisson in place on street in front of St. Paul’s


8:45 a.m.  Military units muster in Veteran’s Park


8:50 a.m. Church Ushers in place.


9 a.m.  Church opens, begin seating attendees


9:20 a.m. Hymns and songs of the North and the South – 8th Georgia Regiment Band


9:45 a.m.  Ceremony participants (chaplains, pall bearers, speakers, soloist) enter sanctuary.


10 a.m.  Service begins


10 a.m.  Invocation


10:05 a.m. “Letter From a Soldier” read by William Franklin Andrews


10:10 a.m. “Ashokan Farewell” – 8th Georgia Regiment Band


10:15 a.m. Elegy


10:20 a.m.  “Amazing Grace” – 8th Georgia Regiment Band


10:20 a.m.  Chaplain’s Eulogy


10:30 a.m.  An American Trilogy” – Soloist, Fisk Jubilee Singers.


10:35 a.m.  Benediction “A Balm for the Wounded and Dying”


10:40 a.m. Brass musicians play “Sweet Home”


            Dust to Dust squad process from sanctuary, followed in order by Color Guard, Pallbearers with coffin, Chaplains, Drummer, Honorary Pallbearers, uniformed re-enactors and then period attired civilians.


            Contemporary attired civilians depart the church last.


            Franklin church bells begin tolling.


10:50 a.m.  Coffin loaded onto caisson.


11 a.m.  Drums begin.  Procession moves forward.


11:30 a.m.  Caisson and following procession enter gates of Historic Rest Haven Cemetery


11:35 a.m.  Coffin placed on grave


11:40 a.m.  Chaplain offers invocation and reads scripture


11:45 a.m.  Historian presents perspective of an unknown soldier


Noon  Flag folding ceremony – U.S. and C.S.A.


12:15 p.m. Taps


12:18 p.m. Honor Guard fires 21-gun salute


12:25 p.m. Wreath Ceremony


12:30 p.m. Chaplain offers benediction


12:35 p.m. Pallbearers lower coffin into grave – Soprano Coronet plays “Amazing Grace”


12:40 p.m. “Dust to Dust” ceremony – Uniformed representatives of each state having sons at the Battle of Franklin will be announced individually, as they drop a handful of soil from the native state into the grave


12:55 p.m. Retirement of Colors


12:50 p.m. Service ends.

Posted on: 10/8/2009


WILLIAMSON HERALD :: 1117 Columbia Avenue :: P.O. Box 681359 :: Franklin, TN 37068
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