For more than a century, the remains of Pvt. Franklin Cauble of the 42nd North Carolina Infantry Regiment have rested beneath a mislabeled grave marker in Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira, NY.
Cauble, a Confederate soldier captured at the battle of Cold Harbor in 1864, succumbed to chronic diarrhea 150 years ago this week at the Elmira prison camp, at age 39.
The mistake occurred when the federal government replaced the original wooden markers of the more than 2,000 Confederate dead interred at Woodlawn with marble headstones in 1907.
Cauble’s grave was marked with the name of his friend, Pvt. Franklin Cooper of the 42nd North Carolina, who survived his time at Elmira.
The National Cemetery Administration announced earlier this month that the error would be rectified and Cauble’s gravestone would be replaced, likely in the next few days.
“After a thorough investigation into claims regarding the error on the headstone, it will be replaced with an in-kind headstone bearing the correct surname of ‘Cauble,’” Kristen Parker, a spokeswoman for the cemetery administration, wrote in an email to the Elmira Star-Gazette.
The marker with Cooper’s name will be destroyed so that it can’t be used for any other purpose, according to the cemetery administration.
Cauble originally volunteered as a private in Co. I of the 52nd NC Infantry on March 25, 1862, in his home county, but was discharged two months later. He re-enlisted on Feb. 3, 1863, in Salisbury, NC, in Co. C of the 42nd North Carolina.
Cauble fate was sealed during the bloody battle of Cold Harbor, the Confederate victory in which Northern casualties outnumbered Southern casualties nearly 13,000 to 5,300.
Among those in the latter category were Cauble and Cooper, both of whom were taken prisoner on June 3.
Both were transferred from Point Lookout, Md., on July 12, 1864, and arrived at Elmira five days later, according to National Archives records.
Cauble died on Oct. 28, 1864, one of 2,963 Confederate at the camp who fell victim to insufficient food, extreme bouts of dysentery, typhoid, pneumonia, smallpox and inadequate medical care.
Cooper survived his internment at Elmira, one of the most notorious Union POW camps, and was released on July 3, 1865. He died Oct. 2, 1924, at age 80 and is buried in Silver Springs Baptist Church Cemetery in Norwood, NC.
Cemetery association historians reviewed the combined military service records for both Cauble and Cooper, plus the Records of the Commissary General of Prisons. The cemetery commission was able to determine there was an error and that the wrong surname was inscribed on Cauble’s headstone, according to the Star-Gazette.
“(The National Cemetery Administration) found the error occurred in 1907 as a result of consultation between the Commission for Marking Graves of Confederate Dead and the State of North Carolina,” Parker wrote. “The state auditor changed the listing of Franklin Cauble to Cooper, resulting in the inaccurate inscription on the headstone at Woodlawn National Cemetery.”
Cauble’s great-great-grandson, Tom Fagart, of Concord, NC, did a good bit of groundwork to nudge the cemetery commission to correct the mistake.
Elmira prison camp operated from July 6, 1864, until Sept. 27, 1865, incarcerating more than 12,000 Confederates.
The Confederate section of Woodlawn Cemetery, where prisoners who died at the prison camp were interred, became Woodlawn National Cemetery in 1877.
(Top: Graves of Confederate dead at Woodlawn National Cemetery.)