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The mystery of the Confederate markers

By Greg Bird

A homeowner in Flat Rock stumbled upon an interesting discovery last week, several headstones for soldiers of the Confederate Army.
Coroner Tim Corder was called to investigate and determined the markers do not appear to be taken from a grave, as there is no evidence or record of any graveyard for confederate soldiers in the area. Additionally, none of the markers appear to be discolored at the base, which would occur if they had been implanted in the ground at some point.
At the homeowners request Corder removed the headstones and has stored them safely until it can be determined what should be done with them.
A total of six headstones were recovered from the property, four in an outbuilding and two near the home, with one being used as a landing for a set of stairs.
The stones are simply inscribed with a Southern Cross of Honor, a designation of “CSA” and “Unknown Soldier” where the name should be. No other indications, such as a date or manufacturing number can be found on the stones.
The discovery of the markers led to an extensive internet search to try and determine where they could have come from, and what purpose they were to serve before ending up in McCreary County.
The American Civil War ran from 1861 and 1865, pitting Union soldiers, representing the northern states against the Confederate Army, representing the secessonist southern states.
After the end of the war, with the Union successful at preserving the United States, debate soon began on how to honor the soldiers who gave their lives in the war.
For years the grave markers of Union soldiers was a simple wooden design, but the markers were easily damaged and a more permanent design was sought.
In 1873 the standard marble slab, four inches thick, 10 inches wide and 12 inches in height was adopted and an effort to replace the old markers in federal graveyards was undertaken. The stones would have an inscription, shield and a slightly curved top as a standard model.
It wasn’t until 1906 when the United States Congress approved a design for headstones of soldiers who served in the Confederate Army. The stones would be similar to their Union counterparts, but would have a Southern Cross of Honor inscribed and a pointed top.
Legend has it the top was pointed to prevent “Yankees” from sitting on the gravestone, but it is considered a myth.
The closest official Civil War cemetery is located in the Mill Springs National Cemetery in Pulaski County.
A representative from the Veterans Administration, the agency that handles all soldier gravestones, could not provide an answer to the reason the markers were located in McCreary County, but is making arrangements to have someone from Camp Nelson recover the stones and transport them to the National Monument at the Civil War Heritage Park.
The Voice has also contacted the previous owner of the property to enquire about the stones, but has yet to receive a response.

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