Memorial Day in Wisconsin

Sometime back my wife and I were out for a Sunday drive in the country. We went out towards a little town called Ashippun. The area around the town is flooded at times and it is like driving through the Florida everglades. There are even pelicans flying around. It’s a very relaxing drive. On this day, on one of the back roads we saw an old cemetery and decided to have a walk around and look at the gravestones.

The first thing we noticed was the age of the graves. Most were from the early 1800’s. In the first row was a tall white stone and as we came up to it we could see that it was a soldiers’ grave. The name on the stone is SGT. Sam W, Hawkins and he was killed on August 21 1864 at Memphis Town.

SGT. Sam W, Hawkins

SGT. Sam W, Hawkins killed on August 21 1864 at Memphis Town.

Sgt. Hawkins was with the 7th Independent Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery, and killed at the Second Battle of Memphis.

This is a link to some information on 1SG. Hawkins

https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers-detail.htm?soldierId=F0CAA4A6-DC7A-DF11-BF36-B8AC6F5D926A

This is a Wikipedia link to the battle.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Memphis

This is a link to some info on the 7th Independent Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery

https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=UWI0007YAL

We continued walking and came across another old white stone. This one marked the graves of two brothers, Lt. Abner Wood and Lt. Henry Wood. These two lieutenants were both killed in 1863, both with the 3rd Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers. One in Co. A and one in Co. D. I was able to find some info on Abner but I could not find anything on Henry. I’ll keep looking.

Two lieutenants , both with the 3rd Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers

Two brothers, Lt. Abner Wood and Lt. Henry Wood. Both killed in 1863

Here is the link to Lt. Abner Wood

https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers-detail.htm?soldierId=073DB2E0-DC7A-DF11-BF36-B8AC6F5D926A

The brothers’ stone is in too poor of condition to get much more information from it.

I was surprised to see the markers. In all the years I have lived in Wisconsin I never knew about this. We were told of all the WWI and WWII graves and even one revolutionary war vet buried just outside of Milwaukee in the town of Brookfield.

Every summer, the historical society in Watertown puts on an ice cream social with a reproduction civil war band. The band leader tells stories about the war between songs, without a word about this. I can’t help but think about the other brave men and women who died fighting for our country and now lay in a forgotten off-the-main-road cemetery or a small family plot that has long been abandoned. You can probably tell me about an old cemetery filled with veterans outside of your town too.

Beth and I would like to tell all the fallen true American heroes that their sacrifice is greatly appreciated and not forgotten by the majority of today’s Americans. This is what we choose to think about on a warm Memorial Day in Wisconsin.  Respect to all our fallen veterans, whichever battle they fought.

P.S. When we went out to take the photos in this post, we ran into an older Vietnam vet “Class of 1964”. His name is Bill. He owns some land just down the road. Bill had stopped in to take some photos to send to an historian he contacted to get the gravestones repaired. Bill also told us that the town was now cutting the grass, with the VFW responsible for the flags and the GAR stars placed by the graves. As we pulled away I could see a hat on the dash of Bill’s jeep. It had a MACV insignia on it. I thought, “Boy, those guys sure do stick together.”  

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