“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Union City in Obion County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)

Unknown Soldier Monument

An Early Memorial

Unknown Soldier Monument image. Click for full size.
1. Unknown Soldier Monument
Inscription.  This 1869 memorial to unknown Confederate dead is one of the oldest Civil War monuments in Tennessee and is a rare example of Reconstruction-era memorialization. The monument's location within a cemetery reflects the mourning element common to the first Civil War monuments in the South.

After the end of the war, local women raised funds to disinter the bodies of Confederate soldiers from throughout the country and rebury them here. Dr. John H. Morton and the Union City Fire Company promoted the project in the Union City Herald. Tennessee poet Annie Somers Gilchrist honored the women's efforts in “The Unknown Confederate Dead.”

Some of the men had died at nearby Camp Brown, a training camp, while others had belonged to the 7th Tennessee Cavalry. The cemetery planners recognized the significance of Union City as a railroad junction. Oaken steps led to the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad, and a double-arched gate faced it.

On October 21, 1869, the Union City brass band led a procession here for the dedication ceremony. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the local Masonic fraternity participated.
Unknown Soldier Monument image. Click for full size.
2. Unknown Soldier Monument
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The Reverend W.T. Harris delivered the funeral oration at the Union City Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

The base of the monument, later vandalized, contained a Confederate rifle, a Bible, and a history of the monument. About seventy years after the dedication, the Leonidas Polk Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy prevailed on county officials to spend $100 to repair it. The monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

(Side panel)
The Unknown Confederate Dead
[Written while the ladies of Union City were engaged in the work of raising means to rebury the Confederate dead at that place in 1868.]

Thrice noble aim befitting hands so fair,
Befitting hearts so gentle and so true,
Cause that might claim an angel's loving care
Now claims this pure and holy trust from you.

Ah, broken hearts no doubt have waited long
For the return of each one sleeping here,
Waited and prayed and heard Hope's siren song,
Till wailing dirges reached each list'ning ear.

Perhaps, dear friends, for one who came not back
You waited thus, prayed, wept, and watched; I have,
My brother perished on war's blasting track
And sleeps now in a lonely, unknown grave.

Pale Sorrow, somewhat hushed, to-day arose,
And flitted slowly,
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through fond Memory's hall;
Again my soul bowed down beneath the throes
War gave when o'er the South he flung his pall.

Five dreary winters have their dirges sung
Above my knightly playmate brother's grave;
Mayhap some stranger hand hath kindly flung
A chaplet o'er the mound of mine own brave.

If so, a sister's heart would bless the hands,
E'en as the loved of these would bless you, friends,
And hope to clasp them in the starry lands,
Where peaceful, joyous union never ends.

(Bottom left) Postwar memorialization Courtesy Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area
(Top center) Poet Annie Gilchrist — Courtesy Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area
(Right) “The Unknown Confederate Dead,” by Annie Gilchrist Courtesy Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
Topics. This historical marker and monument is listed in these topic lists: Cemeteries & Burial SitesWar, US Civil. A significant historical year for this entry is 1869.
Location. 36° 25.247′ N, 89° 2.839′ W. Marker is in Union City, Tennessee, in Obion County. Marker is on Summer Street west of Edwards Street, on the right when traveling
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west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 911 Summer Street, Union City TN 38261, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Unknown Confederate Dead Monument (a few steps from this marker); First Monument to Unknown Confederate Dead (approx. half a mile away); Union City, Mobile and Ohio Railroad Depot (approx. half a mile away); Mt. Zion Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (approx. half a mile away); Obion County Confederate Monument (approx. half a mile away); First Christian Church (approx. 0.6 miles away); The Depot (approx. 1.7 miles away); The Barber Shop (approx. 1.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Union City.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 12, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 10, 2020. This page has been viewed 88 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 10, 2020. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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May. 25, 2022