A Penchant For Desecrating Graves

From: Bernhard1848@att.net

Whether searching for hidden valuables or just thinking they can injure an opponent by flailing at their ancestors bones, the Visigoths of the 1860’s had few equals. Consider this quote taken from the "Battle of Forks Road" on the www.cfhi.net website:

"Once Northern troops entered the abandoned Fort Anderson, they were drawn to the historic graveyard and ruins of nearby St. Philips Church where they “dug up the remains of the coffins, broke open the tombs and scattered the bones, looking for jewelry and silver coffin plates; at which time many of the gravestones were destroyed” (Hall, Land of the Golden River, page 96).

Bernhard Thuersam, Executive Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Post Office Box 328
Wilmington, NC 28402


A Penchant For Desecrating Graves:

"Among the many bold and successful raids within the enemy’s lines, perhaps none surpassed, in cool courage and successful results, that made by Captain William Miles Hazzard upon the island of St. Simons, Georgia, which was occupied as an important depot for Federal troops and supplies. He not only entered their lines, but burned the wharf and large storehouses at the south end of the island, but although his retreat was cut off by capture of his boats, he took those of the enemy and thus effected his escape to the mainland.

Possibly, to vent their spite for the injury inflicted, the United States troops subsequently destroyed the parish church and the tombstone which marked the graves of his family. This act so incensed Captain Hazard that by the light of a torch, upon one of the broken slabs, he wrote the following letter and boldly entering the camp of the Federal commander, General Montgomery, he placed it at the door of his tent upon a stick planted in the ground.

St. S. Church Yard, St. Simon’s Island, Georgia
Commandant, Federal Forces at South End:
Sir—I have more than once been informed through your deserted allies, that the graves of our family have been desecrated by your forces after the unsuccessful attempt to capture me some months ago. This rumor I could not believe, as the custom, even of the savage, has been to respect even the home of the dead. But the sight I now behold convinces me of the truth of the report. I shuddered to think of the practice of bushwhacking, shooting sentinels on post, etc., which has always been discountenanced by my commander (General Beauregard), and my chief has spared many of your men. But let me tell you, sir, that beside these graves, I swear by heaven to avenge their desecration. If it is honorable for you to disturb the dead, I shall consider it an honor, and will make it my ambition, to disturb your living. I shall fancy, sir, the voice of the departed ones from their desecrated homes, exclaiming that such a nation may truly say to Corruption, thou art my father; to Dishonor, thou art my mother; Vandalism, though art my ambition."
W. Miles Hazzard

Captain Hazzard is descended from a military family, the first of whom, William Hazzard was a colonel in the British army. His son, Major William Whig Hazzard was in the Continental army and wounded at the siege of Savannah; while his own father was a Colonel in the United States army of the date of General Scott, with whom he served. A.R. Chisholm

(Southern Historical Papers, Volume XX, R.A. Brock, Editor, 1892)