By DOROTHY SCHNEIDER
NORWICH– An unlikely veteran will be honored Saturday in the Yantic Cemetery.
Soldier Francis "Frank" Adams Goddard, who came from the Norwich area, was among thousands from Connecticut and other northern states when fought in the Civil War.
But unlike most of those other soldiers, when Goddard enlisted in 1861, he joined the Confederate side.
"What we’ve pieced together is, his mother was from Alexandria, Va. … So I wonder if it was because of his mother’s influence. She had that southern connection and also the northern connections," said Lawrence Laboda, an author and Civil War scholar from North Carolina.
"It was a strange situation to be in," he added, pointing out Goddard had a brother and other family members who fought on the Union side.
Laboda discovered Goddard while researching Civil War memorabilia. When he found out Goddard was buried in Yantic without so much as a grave marker, he decided to do something about it.
With the help of Virginia Howard, a genealogist from East Granby, and Joe Feraco, Norwich parks supervisor, Laboda had a stone placed on Goddard’s grave and will honor the veteran in a memorial ceremony Saturday.
"What’s really interesting about this is when they talk about the Civil War being brother fighting brother, it really happened in this case," Howard said. "And you couple that with the fact that (Goddard’s grandfather) was the former mayor of Norwich (Calvin Goddard). … It’s a very prominent family."
Laboda said there are a lot of unknowns in Francis Adams Goddard’s life: How he ended up fighting for the Confederacy or how he ended up buried in Norwich.
"There’s still a lot of gaps," he said. "But it’s kind of a different story. … It’s kind of a sad story."
Laboda, who’s been interested in Civil War history since he was a child, said it’s important to document stories like Goddard’s.
"We want to make sure this history is never lost," he said. "Whether it be for the North or the South, people had a great-grandfather who fought. You hear so many horror stories about things that just fade away."
Joe March, national spokesman for the American Legion, said it’s vital to preserve memories of all veterans, whether they fought for the North or South during the Civil War.
"We have a saying that a veteran is a veteran is a veteran," March said. "(Goddard) is an American veteran and he certainly deserves to be remembered."
Laboda said 140 years after the Civil War, some people are sensitive about people who fought for "the other side," but he said people can’t deny the history or the bravery of the men who fought in the war.
"The man was fighting for his beliefs," he said. "He’s a veteran and he should be honored as a veteran."