Jul. 9—MARIETTA — Thousands of unknown soldiers are interred at Marietta National Cemetery, many of them killed during the summer of 1864 as Union troops advanced on Atlanta in one of the most brutal campaigns of the Civil War.
Now, a new marker will honor their sacrifice at the Marietta Educational Garden Center, where members gathered Friday to dedicate an engraved marker in their memory.
The dedication was part of a host of events honoring an unknown soldier, who local historian Brad Quinlin believes was a Black man in Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's army, killed during the Atlanta Campaign in the summer of 1864.
The remains of the soldier consist of a skull and Union uniform paraphernalia, which were found near the Chattahoochee River decades ago. They sat for years in a private collection, before the collector contacted Quinlin and asked him to help get the remains interred at the cemetery.
Quinlin is still lobbying the cemetery's federal administrators to allow a burial to go forward. He's also hoping to make a trip to the National Archives in Washington to pin down the soldier's identity—right now, he believes he's narrowed it to four possibilities.
On the grounds of the center, garden club members gathered as Quinlin spoke to the sacrifice of the soldiers, and the yearning of their descendants to see their remains identified.
"You're never lost—as long as you're remembered," Quinlin said, sporting a replica Union uniform in spite of the sweltering heat.
The center will serve as an appropriate home for the marker. It centers around the historic 'Fair Oaks' house, dating from the 1850s and named for the pair of oak trees which once stood at its entrance. When the property was acquired by the Marietta Council of Garden Clubs over a hundred years after the Civil War, a cannon ball was embedded in one of the trees.
"In memory of all unknown Civil War soldiers fallen during the Atlanta campaign 1864," the marker reads.
The marker will also sit under a young dogwood tree, which Michelle Davenport noted was equally fitting. The tree's white blooms and 'crown of thorns' in their center will stand for the sacrifice of the soldiers, she said.
"I think it's appropriate to honor all of those soldiers who passed away, and were not identified," Davenport said.
The pageantry honoring the soldier will continue throughout the weekend. A screening of the film 'Glory' at the Strand Theatre was planned for Friday night. The remaining events for the weekend are as follows:
SATURDAY, JULY 10
2 p.m. — 4 p.m.: Civil War Hospital Walking Tour, starting from Zion Baptist Church, 165 Lemon Street
5 p.m. — 7 p.m.: Performance of play "It Could Be Me" at Zion Baptist Church
SUNDAY, JULY 11
3 p.m. — 4 p.m.: Service for an Unknown Union Soldier at Zion Church
4 p.m. — 5 p.m.: Post-service military tribute and processional walk to Marietta National Cemetery
For more information, contact Brad Quinlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.