Civil War soldiers’ remains unearthed from cemetery collapse
VICKSBURG (AP) — National Park Service archaeologists are recovering the remains of unidentified Civil War soldiers from a collapsed section of Vicksburg National Cemetery in Mississippi.
The collapse happened in February. The remains of about 15 Union soldiers are being unearthed from graves that were part of the collapse or that are in an unstable area, according to a National Park Service news release.
The material will be stored so each soldier’s remains are kept together, and DNA testing may be needed. The remains will be buried again in the 116-acre (46-hectares) cemetery. About 17,000 Union soldiers are buried there, and about 75% of them are unidentified.
“This is among the most important work that we do,” archaeologist Dawn Lawrence said in the news release Tuesday. “These soldiers served and died for their country and they deserve our respect for their sacrifice.”
The archaeologists traveled to Mississippi from Tallahassee, Florida. To curb the spread of the new coronavirus, they self-quarantined for five days before making the drive. They are also taking other health precautions.
Vicksburg National Military Park Superintendent Bill Justice said he’s grateful for their work.
“The collapse of the Cemetery Road in February created tremendous challenges. None are more important than protecting the remains of those who fell in the service of our country,” Justice said. “These archaeologists stepped forward to ensure that happens.”