Friday, May 9, 2008
The Unknown Confederate Dead of Riverside Cemetery
In the old section of Riverside Cemetery in Marianna can be found a small burial plot containing two rows of Confederate soldiers. Most of the graves are marked simply with the inscription "Unknown, C.S.A., 1861-1865," although a few still display the fading names of the unfortunate men buried there.
Local tradition holds that these men died fighting Union troops during the Battle of Marianna. The town was attacked by Union troops on September 27, 1864, and the presence of so many graves in two burial trenches has long led to the belief that they must have been victims of the battle.
Research reveals, however, that it is more likely that these men were the victims of illness instead of Union bullets.
Only a few of the men buried in the plot can be identified, but all of them died of sickness while patients at the Confederate military hospital in Marianna. Nasrey "Z.T." Brogden, for example, is buried in the small Civil War plot. Although tradition and a modern marker on his grave indicate that he died on September 27, 1864, the date of the Battle of Marianna, his military records actually reveal that he died in the hospital at Marianna from sickness on December 22, 1863, nine months before the battle.
The same is true of the other couple of soldiers who can be identified. In view of this information, it seems more likely that the burial plot was actually a place where soldiers who died while receiving hospital treatment were buried.
There are victims of the Battle of Marianna buried at Riverside. Several of their graves can be found nearby. But since all of the dead from the battle can be accounted for and identified, it seems that the "unknowns" likely died of disease.