- Associated Press - Saturday, November 1, 2014

HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. (AP) - An archaeologist who spent two weeks digging in a Kentucky cemetery says he may have found the site of unmarked graves for more than 300 Confederate soldiers.

But the search to find the final resting place for the troops from Kentucky, Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana will have to wait until next year because time has run out on this year’s dig, the Kentucky New Era (https://bit.ly/1pcaeNQ) reported.

Archaeologist William Meacham, a Hopkinsville native who now lives in Hong Kong, recently spent a two-week vacation digging trenches at Riverside Cemetery in hopes of finding evidence of the burials.

Meacham said his trip to Kentucky came out of pocket, so he was limited to two weeks before returning home.

“When I read about these men dying before even seeing battle, then to have them buried here and their markers gone, well, that just seemed like a cosmic injustice to me,” he said.

After digging about a dozen trenches, Meacham and two others found something. Not two feet into the ground, the final trench showed the outlines of two or possibly three burial sites based on the different soil color.

“When you start to get down four or five feet it will be clearer, but I think we have a pretty good idea of what we have here,” Meacham said.

Exactly where the troops are buried has been deduced from newspaper clippings and the story of an old ledger, found and later misplaced sometime after 1899, said county historian William T. Turner.

Turner said that according to an 1889 Kentucky New Era article, the soldiers died between 1861 and 1862 in Hopkinsville and were a part of the 1st and 3rd Mississippi regiments, the 7th Texas Regiment, the 8th Kentucky Regiment and Forrest’s Calvary. They were buried in rows in the northeast corner of the cemetery, east to west beginning next to the East Fence, but Turner said by the late 1860s the wooden markers inscribed with their names were gone.

A list printed in that issue also mentioned a ledger which held the names of the troops. It was found in the basement of the old Bank of Hopkinsville, but it was 12 years too late - 101 unknown bodies had been exhumed and reburied in metal boxes placed at three points around what is called the Latham Confederate Monument at Riverside Cemetery in 1887.

Hopkinsville City Council approved a resolution in favor of the digging project at a September meeting. It states that if the graves were to be found and catalogued, Riverside Cemetery would be considered an actual Civil War site and possibly earn a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

Councilwoman Marby Schlegel said that time may come next year when Meacham returns.

Until then, the trenches will be filled to await next year’s possible discoveries.


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