- The Washington Times - Monday, March 27, 2006

ATLANTA

A single misspelled letter kept a Canadian who died while fighting for Union forces in the Confederate South during the Civil War from getting a proper headstone. After 142 years, that’s about to change.

Officials at Marietta National Cemetery, outside Atlanta, will unveil a new marble headstone Saturday with Pvt. Dennis Buckley’s name and the Medal of Honor inscription he earned for his war service.

Buckley, 21, of Lindsey, Ontario, was buried with his last name misspelled on the headstone as “Burkley” at the government-run cemetery after his July 20, 1864, death in the Battle of Peachtree Creek.

The error, blamed on unclear handwriting in a cemetery register, also kept Buckley’s headstone from getting the Medal of Honor inscription, which he was awarded a year after his death, cemetery director Sandra Beckley said.

The mistake was not discovered until about six months ago when John Dubois of Caledonia, N.Y., who was doing research on Buckley’s unit, the 136th New York Infantry, was combing through records that listed Buckley as a member and a grave number that matched the grave at the cemetery with Buckley’s name misspelled. The cemetery did its own research and confirmed the error.

“Obviously, he didn’t have family, or they didn’t come to the site to know that it was wrong,” Ms. Beckley said. “All of our Civil War records are in handwritten script. When you look at all these records, you can see why. The ‘c’ looked like an ‘r.’”

Officials recently attempted to remove the old headstone, but it crumbled, Ms. Beckley said, adding that a temporary marker has been placed at the site until the new headstone with gold lettering is unveiled. The ceremony will include Canadian officials and Mr. Dubois. Officials said they aren’t aware of any living relatives of Buckley.

Citing Mr. Dubois’ research, Gwendolyn Coley, a spokeswoman for the Department of Veterans Affairs, which oversees the Marietta cemetery, said Buckley was shot in the head after capturing a Confederate flag.

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