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Grave to go untouched for Union soldier with tag aboard Hunley
Wednesday, August 1, 2001
KILLINGLY, CONN. - Archaeologists say they probably
won't dig up the grave site of a Connecticut man whose identification tag was
found aboard a Confederate submarine off South Carolina's coast.
State archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni made the
announcement Monday, after research found that the body of Union soldier Ezra
Chamberlin was never found - raising the possibility that Chamberlin was on the
Killingly Town Historian Margaret Weaver said she found
the information in an old newspaper obituary for Chamberlin's father from 1880.
"This is an important historical find," said
Bellantoni. "It certainly means the body never made it back to
Historians and archaeologists had been planning to dig
up around the marker at Westfield Cemetery in Killingly to determine whether it
is a gravestone or memorial marker.
But Bellantoni did not rule out excavating graves of
Chamberlin's family to compare DNA with the body found on the sub.
Weaver said there is a chance that Chamberlin was
aboard the Hunley, but said it was one of a number of possibilities.
Among them are theories that Chamberlin was a prisoner
of war or a defector on the sub, or that a Confederate crewman picked up the ID
tag as a souvenir at the Battle of Fort Wagner, where Chamberlin is believed to
Another theory is that Chamberlin lost his tag in a
card game with Confederate soldiers the night before the Fort Wagner battle.
Weaver said it was common for soldiers to sneak into
opposing camps to trade food, supplies and even play cards.
The Hunley executed the Civil War's first successful
sub attack. It sank off Sullivan's Island near Charleston Harbor in 1864 and was
recovered from the ocean floor last August.
Used with permission of The Post and
Courier and Charleston.Net.
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