Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Heard a story this week.
My eldest son and I had the pleasure of attending a symposium on local heroes from the War Between the States downtown at the local library.
One of the stories was especially touching. Pictured with this entry is the headstone of Bayard Hand. Yes, he died in 1859, two years before the war but this US sailor had a role in the biggest conflict in American History up to that time.
In 1864 William Sherman and his army paid a visit to Rome. After a time of planning and organizing torches lit the fire of the first of many towns burned in the "March to the Sea". As the US Army left with the flames reaching for the sky, their knapsacks clinked with the pilfered jewelry, silverware and other valuables they decided to help themselves to. But material goods were not all the Yankees stole. They also stole the body of Lt. Bayard Hand
Apparently, after seeing the US Naval emblem on the tombstone, the Federal soldiers decided that such a man should not be buried in Rome, Georgia. So, in spite of his family's protests, they exhumed his body and sent it to Arlington, Virginia to be buried at the new cemetery established on the estate that the same US Army stole from the wife of General Robert E. Lee.
This family, without doubt, lost material possessions to the invading army. Perhaps they lost their home and certainly their hometown to Sherman's torches. But the thought of the Union Army marching away with their disinterred son and then to hear of his burial at Arlington. It's hard for me to imagine.
But a father's love runs deep.
Bayard's step-father traveled to Virginia in 1866. At a personal cost of $300 (a large sum in that day) he had his son re-exhumed and transported back to Rome. Bayard Hand was then re-interred in his own grave.
Sitting there with my son it was hard to imagine what that dad went through, what he dealt with or the ease with which I can only guess he parted with a large sum of money to right such a wrong and get his son back, even 6 years after Bayard's death.
Being a dad, I understand.
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Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire