Date published: 6/24/2004

City to pay half at Confederate resting place

The Confederate Cemetery wall that came crumbling down after Hurricane Isabel whipped through last September is about to be restored, brick by historic brick.

On Tuesday, the Fredericksburg City Council signed a resolution to pay half the cost of rebuilding the wall, which is estimated at $70,000.

That came as good news to Barbara Crookshanks, president of the Ladies’ Memorial Association of Fredericksburg, which owns and maintains the cemetery at the corner of Washington Avenue and William Street.

"We’re so pleased they’re doing this," she said. "We’ve been doing pretty well, but haven’t gotten enough yet."

Crookshanks said donations have poured in since the wall fell, and the group has raised about $28,000 so far.

It was about 6 a.m., six weeks after Isabel blew through, when an 85-foot section of the brick wall collapsed.

Nearby residents reported hearing the wall, which fronts Washington Avenue, crumble.

Workers with the city’s Public Works and Parks and Recreation departments closed off the section of sidewalk where the wall fell. The workers gathered up the bricks and moved them to a safe place.

The Ladies’ Memorial Association bought the land for the cemetery in 1867.

Four significant Civil War battles, resulting in thousands of Confederate deaths, were fought in the Fredericksburg area between 1862 and 1864.

Today, 3,353 soldiers are buried in the cemetery.

Many of the bricks used to build the wall came from downtown homes battered by Union troops during the 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg.

In addition to the council’s and private donations, other businesses and organizations also have helped out.

About $6,000 in proceeds from Historic Fredericksburg Foundation’s Candlelight Tour were put toward the wall. And a private organization based in Richmond gave $10,000 for the effort.

Individual donations have come in in ranging from $10 to $1,000, Crookshanks said.

"We’ve been collecting little bits as we go along," she said. "But now we feel we’re in the homestretch."

Crookshanks approached the Federal Emergency Management Agency for reimbursement. But because it is not a public cemetery owned by the city, FEMA refused to pay.

Now the group needs to raise another $7,000 to receive the matching funds from the city.

The city’s Public Works Department has offered to put the project out for bids, and oversee the restoration.

According to Dave King, assistant director of public works for the city, the contractor will build a small sample wall to ensure it has the right colors, texture and type of mortar.

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