The vandalized gravestone memorial was barely mentioned by any national media, despite being only minutes from the nation’s capital and nearby the homes of hundreds of journalists.
The grave marker for the 17 soldiers at Grace Episcopal Church cemetery in Silver Spring was vandalized in early June, then toppled completely on June 14.
While desecration of any grave is vile and should be condemned fully, the story of this monument is particularly interesting for anyone with an interest in American history.
The soldiers buried at this church died in the battle of Fort Stevens in July of 1864 and their bodies were unceremoniously dumped in shallow graves at several farms in Silver Spring, while the Union soldiers who perished were buried formally at the Battleground National Cemetery.
“In 1874, the pastor of Grace Episcopal Church, himself a Confederate veteran, was able to locate 17 bodies and had them moved to the church cemetery. The only body that could be identified was Pvt. James Bland of Highland County, Virginia. The graves were lined up in front of the church in a lot donated by Montgomery Blair, a parishioner who had been Lincoln’s postmaster and Dred Scott’s attorney,” Allen Browne’s 2011 blog about the landmark explained.
WUSA9 reports that the “interim pastor of Grace Episcopal, Richard Kukowski, said the church did not file a police report because they intended to handle the issue ‘in house.'”
The grave vandals also left a sign calling the unknown soldiers “white supremacists” who “died fighting to keep black people enslaved.” Nearly 30,000 Native Americans also fought on the side of the Confederacy.