On 14 May 2009, a construction worker unearthed human bones located in a shallow grave. The police were called, and upon their examining the bones and the buttons accompanying them. It was determined that this was the remains of a Civil War soldier. Many questions surround this soldier. Who was he? When did he die? Why was he buried in a coffin?
The soldier, who the majority of Franklin historians think was a Federal, was buried a quarter mile south of Winstead Hill, just a few yards west of Columbia Pike near the site of the McNeely house. He had been buried in a wooden coffin and was wearing a frock coat. The buttons found in the site were Union eagle and “I” buttons. These buttons were the means of identifying him as a Federal soldier. The nonregulation
mix of buttons, however, causes some to contend that possibly this was a Confederate wearing a Federal coat.
Two theories are proposed on why his remains were at this location. The initial theory placed the soldier as a member of the advanced Federal forces pursuing Hood in the Retreat from Nashville. The second suggests that he was part of Conrad’s or Lane’s forward line which was overrun, and, in the attack, the soldier was wounded and carried as a prisoner to this location where he died. However, unless he died some time after the battle, neither theory explains the burial in a coffin. Immediately upon the discovery of the remains, the City of Franklin under the leadership of Alderman Mike Skinner with the support of Mayor John Schroer, set out to protect the soldier and to make arrangements for placing him in a suitable burial site. The developer on whose property the soldier was found has underwritten the cost of the archeological study, the removal of the remains, and the reinterrment of the soldier.
The State of Tennessee is holding the remains until all legal requirements are met and arrangements for reburial are complete. Preliminary plans call for the soldier to be reinterred at Franklin’s historic Rest Haven Cemetery. An appropriate ceremony will be organized utilizing Civil War reenactors. The Civil War soldier will be laid to rest with the honor due. [The tombstone reades] Unknown: Battle of Franklin,
November 30, 1864.”
Text Source: Fort Donelson Camp Number 62 FORT DONELSON CAMP No. 62, Newsletter,
Volume 15 Issue No. 3 Summer 2009
Top Image: Memorial To the Union Dead, Rest Haven Cemetery, Franklin Tennessee