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Falmouth in Stafford County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

A Sad Duty to Perform

 
 
A Sad Duty to Perform Marker image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., November 19, 2011
1. A Sad Duty to Perform Marker
Inscription. His second day of freedom, Former Slave John Washington wrote about seeing the “side-by-side” burial of seven Union soldiers April 19th, 1862, in Falmouth’s Union Church Cemetery.

“The soldiers had a sad duty to perform…The funeral was one of the most solemn and impressive I had ever witnessed in my life before. Their company (cavalry) was dismounted and drawn up in lines, around the seven new graves which had been dug side-by-side. The old Family Burying Ground wherein these new made graves had been dug contained the bones [of] some of the oldest and most wealth of the Early Settlers of Falmouth.

On some of the tombstones could be dimly traced the birthplaces of some in England, Scotland, and Wales as well as Ireland. And amidst grand old tombs and vaults, surrounded by noble cedars through which the April wind seemed to moan low dirges, there they was now about to deposit the remains of (what the rebels was pleased to term) the low born ‘Yankee’.

Side-by-side they rested those seven coffins on the edge of these seven new made graves. While the chaplain’s fervent prayer was wafted to the skies and after a hymn (Windham) had been sung those seven coffins was lowered to their final resting place.

And amidst the sound of the earth falling into those new made graves, the
Picture from A Sad Duty to Perform Marker image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., November 19, 2011
2. Picture from A Sad Duty to Perform Marker
‘Band’ of Harris Light Cavalry broke forth in dear old ‘Pleyal’s Hymn’ and when those graves were finished there was scarecely a dry eye present. And with heavy hearts their company left that little burying ground some swearing to avenge their deaths.”

From “Memorys of the Past” by John Washington Photo courtesy National Park Service, taken after the Civil War

This marker funded by the 14th N.Y.S.M., Company E. Re-enactors, www.14thbrooklyn.info, also visit www.FalmouthUnionChurch.org

Night Attack on Falmouth Heights
The “sad duty” was the result of a skirmish which took place in the early morning hours of April 18, 1862, as Union forces first advance on Falmouth.
Source: Battles for the Union

The Dead were escorted by an honor guard composed of the 1st PA Cavalry and the 2nd NY Cavalry, also known as the Harris Light

Patrick Devlin
Company M, 1st Cavalry,
killed April 18, 1862

Thomas Norton
Company M, 1st Pa. Cavalry,
died of wounds on April 18, 1862

Lieutenant James Nelson Decker
Co. D., 2nd N.Y. Cavalry
Killed at 7:00 PM on April 17, 1862

John Heslin
Company L. 2nd N.Y. Cavalry
killed at 11:30 PM on April 17, 1862
Josiah Kiff
Company H, 2nd N.Y. Cavalry,
Died of wounds on April
Picture from A Sad Duty to Perform Marker image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., November 19, 2011
3. Picture from A Sad Duty to Perform Marker
Lt. James Nelson Decker’s mother, a widow, informed of her son’s death responded, “Had I another son to fill his place, and assist in preserving our glorious Union, I would give him to you with a mother’s blessing.”
His body was moved to the family cemetery in Wallkill, N.Y.
18, 1862

John Murphy
Company G. 2nd N.Y. Cavalry
died of wounds on April 18, 1862

George Weller
Company H, 2nd N.Y. Cavalry
killed April 18, 1862
 
Erected 2011 by 14th N.Y.S.M., Company E. Re-enactors.
 
Location. 38° 19.352′ N, 77° 28.031′ W. Marker is in Falmouth, Virginia, in Stafford County. Marker is on Carter Street near Cambridge Street (U.S. 17), on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Fredericksburg VA 22405, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Forlorn Hope (here, next to this marker); Hobby School (a few steps from this marker); James Hunter (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); On this site in 1862... (about 500 feet away but has been reported missing); Conway House (about 500 feet away); Moncure Daniel Conway (about 500 feet away); Anthony Burns (about 500 feet away); Freedom Began Here (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Falmouth.
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
Picture from A Sad Duty to Perform Marker image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., November 19, 2011
4. Picture from A Sad Duty to Perform Marker
The 14th Brooklyn Chasseurs “Red Legged Devils” furnished the firing party. The funeral services were conducted by the chaplain of the 14th Brooklyn.
Drawing by Edwin Forbes, courtesy Library of Congress

A soldiers graveyard near Falmouth, Virginia. The bodies of the Union dead buried at Union Church were removed after the war to the Fredericksburg National Cemetery
A Sad Duty to Perform Marker image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., November 19, 2011
5. A Sad Duty to Perform Marker
A Sad Duty to Perform and The Forlorn Hope Markers image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., November 19, 2011
6. A Sad Duty to Perform and The Forlorn Hope Markers
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 19, 2011, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 487 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on November 19, 2011, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
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