Panel reappointed to keep alive memory of Civil War soldiers
By CATHY MENTZER
Gov. Harry Hughes has reappointed three local men to serve as trustees for the Washington Cemetery, a graveyard for Civil War dead that has been a part of Hagerstown since 1877.
Samuel E. Pruett of Williamsport, David A. Foltz and Frederick H. Hoover, both of Hagerstown, have been reappointed to 3-year terms.
According to Pruett, who has served on the board for about 20 years, Foltz will be serving his second term and Hoover his third.
Board members visit the graveyard at Rose Hill Cemetery about once a month to make sure it is being properly cared for, according to Pruett. Rose Hill provides perpetual care for the graveyard.
The board also answers correspondence from history buffs or relatives interested in the burial site, and submits an annual report to the Maryland Veterans Commission.
Additionally, board members occasionally use money from a small expense account to replace fading markers or other damaged property, Pruett said.
Hoover, Pruett and Foltz are all members of the Hagerstown Civil War Roundtable, according to Pruett. He said he and Foltz work for the Maryland Department of Employment and Training and Hoover is retired from Fairchild Industries.
The trustees are not paid for being on the board, and generally serve "just for the love of history," Pruett said. "And we like the idea of the cemetery being properly kept."
Washington Cemetery is the burial site for nearly 2,500 Confederate soldiers although "technically speaking, it's for Union or Confederate," Pruett said.
The cemetery was established by the Maryland General Assembly through the "Act of 1870" to properly bury soldiers who died in the Maryland Campaigns of 1862 and the battle at Gettysburg.
Before the establishment of the cemetery, Pruett said, many of the slain men were buried where they fell — in cornfields, beside streams and beneath front lawns.
After funding was granted for the cemetery, it took five years to locate and bury the bodies, said Pruett.
Today, only about 300 of the men buried in Washington Cemetery are officially identified and noted at a common gravesite. Pruett and the other board members have been trying to change that for some 20-odd years.
"We're trying to compile a master list of all the people who are buried there," Pruett said. "It's sort of a continuation of our love of history."
Besides the difficulties of tracking down names of soldiers who died more than 100 years ago, compiling the list has been slow because "we just work on this as a hobby in our spare time, and we work on it a little here and a little there," Pruett said.
Although the board, which was established to watch over the cemetery, consists of three members, it could include two more members Pruett said.
Because Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia all helped fund the cemetery, each state can make appointments to the board. However, West Virginia and Virginia "haven't done so in many years," Pruett said.
Hagerstown Morning Herald
Western Maryland Room, WCFL
Maryland, History, Civil War, 1861-1865, Registers of dead; Cemeteries, Maryland, Washington County; Confederate States of America, Army, Maryland.
Washington and Frederick Counties (Md.), 1868