Mystery of ‘unknown’ Confederate unraveled

treadwell marker

Questions surrounding how officials solved a 150-year mystery and identified the only unknown Confederate soldier buried in the Beaufort National Cemetery have been answered.

Just a few days ago, the Beaufort County (SC) Historical Resources Consortium released information stating that the lone Confederate soldier interred in the Beaufort National Cemetery with a tombstone marked as “unknown” had been identified as Private Haywood Treadwell of Co. G, 61st NC Volunteers.

The Beaufort Gazette followed that announcement with a story Thursday that provided details on how Treadwell, who died in a Union hospital on Sept. 12, 1863, after being wounded at Battery Wagner, was identified.

Investigation into the history of the William Wigg Barnwell House, which served as a Union hospital during the war, led to the North Carolina soldier’s identification. It was learned Treadwell, who had been shot in the right thigh, had been brought to the house after his capture, according to the publication.

Beaufort resident Penelope Holme Parker began researching the William Wigg Barnwell House in 2008 by at the request of owners Conway and Diane Ivy. During the process, Parker discovered that Haywood Treadwell might have been buried anonymously because of a misspelled first name.

“Burial records found in a cardboard box in the basement of the cemetery building in 1991 listed a ‘Heyward Treadwell,’ who died of a gunshot wound to the right thigh on Sept. 12, 1863,” according to the Gazette. “Treadwell was buried in section 53, site 6359 – the site of the unknown soldier’s gravestone, according to the records.”

Because there is no record of a “Heyward Treadwell” in the 61st North Carolina Volunteers, it appears likely that it is Haywood Treadwell who was buried with the gravestone of an unknown, Parker said.

The William Wigg Barnwell House in Beaufort, site of a Union hospital during the Civil War and where Pvt. Haywood Treadwell died in September 1863.

The William Wigg Barnwell House in Beaufort, site of a Union hospital during the Civil War and where Pvt. Haywood Treadwell died in September 1863.

Record keeping during the war was sporadic and chaotic, and there was no comprehensive use of dog tags or any other identification system, which meant soldiers’ names, when they were known, could be spelled in a variety of ways, depending on how they sounded phonetically.

Service records and burial orders indicate Treadwell was born in Sampson County, NC, worked as a turpentine farmer and was married before he joined the 61st North Carolina.

Treadwell has received a new grave marker – one with his name on it – that will be unveiled May 10, part of a two-day symposium recognizing Confederate soldiers buried in the national cemetery.

The process to replace Treadwell’s marker began in 2010 with help from Jody Henson of the Richard H. Anderson Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, according to the Gazette. It took three years to get the approval of three committees required to place the new gravestone.

Some of Treadwell’s descendants in North Carolina and Alabama have been located and will participate in the May 10 ceremony, Parker said.

(Top: New tombstone of Pvt. Haywood Treadwell of Co. G, 61st NC Volunteers at Beaufort National Cemetery. Photo Credit: Beaufort Gazette.)

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