Confederate graves ‘flagged’ at Alta Vista

Saturday, March 10th 2012

Confederate graves ‘flagged’ at Alta Vista
By Jerry Gunn, Staff

GAINESVILLE – Gainesville’s Alta Vista Cemetery became marked Saturday morning with miniature battle flags of the Confederate States of America.

They mark the estimated 150 graves of men and boys who served under that red banner with its blue Saint Andrews Cross, bearing stars that represent the states that seceded from the United States 150 years ago.


Around 25 members and friends of the Gainesville Sons of Confederate Veterans, Camp 1404, placed the flags in the crisp, clear Saturday morning weather, the wind snapping and unfolding them.

Sandra Couch, wife of camp member Mike Couch, said the flags are placed every year to commemorate Confederate Memorial Month in April and Confederate Memorial Day, April 26th.

“They are from all over, we’ve done a little research to get names and units they were with and they’re from all different states,” she said, noting in all there around 500 soldier graves in Hall County, including perhaps the most famous one, General James Longstreet, Robert E. Lee’s second in command of the Army of Northern Virginia.

The United States Flag flies year around at his hillside grave, and Saturday, Confederate colors were placed there as well.

“I think it’s to preserve our heritage, she added “I see it as historical and I see it as honoring men who fought for their homeland. These were farmers, young men who thought they were doing something that was right, preserving their heritage and homeland and not as much fighting for or against slavery.”

She said it is to respect and honor them and also the soldiers of the Union.

William Glenn Spencer is buried at Alta Vista and his grave was “flagged” as well even though he deserted his Confederate Georgia regiment and took an oath of allegiance to the Union in February, 1864, over a year before the war was over and Lee surrendered.

Ben Leggett brought his wife and two small children with him as he visited 14 graves and placed flags. A Civil War re-enactor, Leggett, from Habersham County, has Confederate ancestors in North Carolina.

“I choose to honor all the Confederate veterans whereever they may be buried,” Leggett said. As for remembering the veterans and where they are buried and why they fought, Leggett said Americans need to profit from the lessons of history.

“We should always learn from the mistakes and the successes of the past in order to learn our way forward,” he said. “There’s a famous saying that those who forget the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them.”

2012 © Jacobs Media Corporation

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