Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Gen. Cullen Battle's Grave
Have you ever wondered where you will rest in peace? I know, that's a pretty morbid thought. But, I admit, I've wondered. Will it be in the area where I last reside? Or, will I find myself in a generations-old traditional family plot?
Similarly, I sometimes wonder why certain people end up in certain cemeteries. Today, I was over at Petersburg's Blandford Cemetery with a colleague doing some preliminary research on project. One of the graves we visited was that of Confederate General Cullen Andrews Battle. Doing some quick thinking of what I knew of Battle, I found myself at a loss as to why he was buried in Petersburg.
Cullen Battle was born in Hancock County, Georgia, in 1829, but moved with his family to Eufala, Alabama as a boy. After studying at the University of Alabama, Battle read law and was admitted to the bar in 1852. A tried and true secessionist, Battle was close friends with Alabama's leading fire-eater, William Lowndes Yancey. After John Brown's raid, Battle raised a local militia unit and offered its services to Virginia. However, Virginia Governor Henry A. Wise already had enough in-state militia. Battle's unit continued to drill tough and maintained a readiness as sectional tensions increased.
When war finally came in 1861, Battle was made major of the 3rd Alabama Infantry. The 3rd eventually made their way to Virginia and fought during the Peninsula Campaign, at South Mountain, and Antietam. For competent service, Battle was promoted to colonel of the 3rd at the end of 1862.
Battle received promotion to brigadier general in February 1864, taking command of Gen. Robert E. Rodes's former brigade. Battle missed a good deal of service due to injuries and illness. After missing time in the summer of 1864 for dysentery, he returned but was wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek that fall. That wound kept the general out of commission for the remainder of the war. Although major general is listed on his headstone, it appears that promotion was never made official.
In 1880, Battle resettled in New Bern, North Carolina, and edited a newspaper. Later, he resided in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he died at age 75 in 1905 .
So, why wasn't Battle buried in Greensboro, New Bern, or even back in Alabama? The answer it seems was just a wish. Apparently, Battle's son, Henry, a Petersburg minister, desired to have his father's body be brought to and buried in the Cockade City. Sometimes it is as simple as that.