On July 1, 1863 a battle took place in Gettysburg, PA that changed the direction of a war and had a profound outcome on the nation we live in today. This weekend Oakwood Cemetery had a great presentation on the battle, the manner in which soldiers were treated during the war and how some of the men in the Confederate Cemetery found their way to this their final resting place. They told many great stories over the course of the two hour lecture but one that I thought was most interesting was the story of Lieutenant Walsh, 11th Texas Calvary or the only casualty in the occupation of Raleigh by Union Forces.
I decided rather than paraphrase the story I would find it online –
On April 12th, 1865, Governor Vance sent former governor’s David L. Swain and W.A. Graham, Surgeon General Edward Warren, Colonel James G. Burr, and Major Devereux to meet with General Sherman regarding the surrender of the city of Raleigh. Not hearing from Swain or his party, Vance fled Raleigh. On the 13th of April, during a driving rainstorm, another ambassador group was dispatched to meet with Sherman. This assembly included Raleigh mayor, William H. Harrison. Harrison and his group of men who waited several hours for Sherman’s field commander, General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick to arrive. Later that day, Harrison’s group surrendered the city to General Kilpatrick along with a request for protection for the citizens of Raleigh. Kilpatrick accepted the surrender with one caution to Harrison’s group, “this will be a peaceful occupation unless hostile actions are taken by your citizens.” Later, as Kilpatrick’s first columns approached the Capitol, the departing Confederate soldiers, Wheeler’s Cavalry, had set fire to the railway station and a few stragglers were looting a store at the other end of Fayetteville Street when ex-Governor Swain shouted “the Yankees were coming.” The Confederates fled, that is all of them but one.
Young Lt. Walsh, of the 11th Texas Cavalry mounted his horse, and took a position midway between the old New Berne Bank and the book-store (near Fayetteville Street and now, the Hargett Street intersection), drew his revolver and waited until Kilpatrick’s advance guard was within a hundred yards. He discharged his pistol three times in rapid succession in the direction of the officers at the head of the troops. Walsh then wheeled, dug his spurs into his horse and galloped up Morgan Street, followed by a dozen Union horsemen in hot pursuit. Turning a corner, his horse fell. He remounted and dashed around the corner at Pleasant’s store on Hillsboro Street. A few yards further on, near the bridge over the railroad, he was overtaken by his pursuers and brought back to Capitol Square, where General Kilpatrick scolded “your actions today have endangered the lives of many citizens of this town” and ordered his immediate execution by stating “take him from the eyes of the ladies and hang him”. It is said that Walsh ask for five minutes to write to his wife, a request which was refused.
Lt. Walsh was hung in the grove of trees just behind the Lovejoy home, (at the corner of Lane and Bloodworth Street) where his body was immediately buried. He was buried with his feet sticking out of the ground. Miss Nannie Lovejoy asked the General if she could have him buried deeper and he consented and the grave was reopened and dug deeper with the Lieutenant’s entire body being buried on the second burial. Lt. Walsh’s body remained at the base of the “hanging tree” near the Lovejoy home until the spring of 1867, at which time he was exhumed and interred in the Confederate Section at Oakwood Cemetery. [SOURCE]
As a reward for being the lone defender of Raleigh he has a unique headstone unlike the others in the cemetery and is said to be given special attention on Confederate Memorial Day (May 10th) with people often leaving tokens of St. Jude on his grave (the patron Saint of Lost Causes).
Oakwood Cemetery is great place to visit and the history between the stone monuments is amazing.