Making amends for soldier’s mislaid remains

“John O. Dolson died in a military hospital in Gettysburg, Pa., on Sept. 3, 1863, two months after the Civil War’s bloodiest battle left him with a punctured lung while engaged in a critical Union counterattack on the rock-strewn hill known as Little Round Top….

“Dolson was wounded with a Minie ball to the lung on the second day of the Gettysburg clash, but we don’t know much more. In fact, history lost track of him for nearly 150 years.

“But in 2006, researchers unearthed a major typo as they combed through records from Camp Letterman, the military hospital where Dolson died.

“Dolson was buried near the hospital until 1871, when Southern states raised funds to disinter and return Confederate war dead. That’s when the sharpshooter from Minnesota headed south by accident.

“Dolson joined 136 Confederate soldiers whose remains were buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, N.C. A headstone in Oakwood was chiseled with the name John O. Dobson of Company A, 2nd North Carolina Infantry — even though muster rolls from the Confederate unit list no such man.

“When researchers a decade ago realized it was actually Dolson buried there, a new, rounded headstone — signifying a Union soldier — was added to the sea of pointed stones marking Confederate soldiers’ spots.

“At 2 p.m. [today] in Richfield’s Veterans’ Park [near Minneapolis], a ceremony will be held to unveil a new marker explaining Dolson’s mislaid remains. They still may be in North Carolina, but now both the old ‘Dobson’ gravestone and a new plaque tell his story at a park in his hometown….”

— From “Two Minnesotans at war, both teens, were witnesses to history” by Curt Brown in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (May 28)

Josh Shaffer of the N&O was on this story as it unfolded in recent years.


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