Resaca Confederate Cemetery was the first Confederate cemetery dedicated on Georgia soil Thank to Mary J. Green and others, the soldiers in this cemetery were buried with honor and dignity. Over 450 soldiers representing twelve states are buried here. Resaca Confederate Cemetery honors the lives that were lost in the Battle of Resaca.
The Battle of Resaca saw its genesis on May 14, 1864 and
commenced the following day. Due to the battle and enemy forces invading, the Superintendent
of the Georgia Rail Road, Col. John F. Green and his family were forced to
vacate their home. Upon returning they were astonished and in awe of the scene
that they saw. After the battle the Union soldiers had carried their dead home
and left the corpses of the Confederate soldiers sprawled about. Bodies had
been left in shallow graves that due to the elements, were starting to erode,
and parts of human bones could be seen protruding through the earth. Some of
the graves were marked with the names which would assist when it came time for
proper burials. Mary Green and her sister Pyatt knew something had to be done
to supply these men with a grave and a deserved memorial. They first started
talking to their father about the situation. Col. Green gifted the girls with a
little over two acres of land to start the cemetery.
Mary, her sister and some former slaves got to work on the
cemetery. Assistance was given by a family friend named Col. James Robertson.
Col Robertson took to landscaping the area. He did so in a symmetrical fashion,
putting the graves together by the states that the soldiers hailed from.
However, troubles were on the horizon, for there was no money to complete the
cemetery. In July of 1866, thirteen females banded together and formed the
Resaca Ladies’ Memorial Association, with Mary Green as the president. With
letter writing campaigns, the women could raise some money in a state that was
still in a post war era. Therefore, it was decided that Mary Green would go
make an appeal to the Georgia State Legislature. At the time, Miss Green was
the first woman to have ever done so. The legislature listened and gave $500 to
Mary’s cause. By October of 1886, all 450 plus soldiers were buried. As
previously stated, the soldiers were buried according to their home states.
However, unknown soldiers made up a vast population of the dead. The unknowns were
laid to rest around a stone cross. On October 25, 1886, the very first memorial
service and dedication took place. When discussing the dedication, Mary wrote, “The
day selected for the dedication, October 25, 1886, was bright and beautiful. One
of these charming days of our Indian Summer where no sound was heard save the
fluttering of falling leaves, a suitable accompanist to our sad thoughts, as we
stood in bivouac of the dead.”
On August 17, 1908, the Georgia General Assembly sat forth a
resolution and accepted custody of the cemetery. Prior to the state taking
over, the Ladies Memorial Association of Resaca had assumed responsibility and
maintenance of the gravesites. There was no fence, no wall nor border to
protect the cemetery. In 1925, the United Confederate Veterans and the United
Daughters of the Confederacy joined forces and commissioned a stonewall to
secure the perimeter of the cemetery. Since 1986, on April 26 every year, the
Harriet Gold Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy holds an annual
Confederate memorial at the cemetery. In 2008, the Atlanta Chapter 18 and Pvt.
Drewry R. Smith Chapter 2522, Dalton, came together and rededicated the
cemetery, they also gave a memorial bench to honor Mary Green. Upon entering
the cemetery, a tablet can be found on the stone arch way. It states “This
tablet is dedicated by the Atlanta Chapter of the United Daughters of the
Confederacy to the memory of Miss Mary Green who established this Resaca
Cemetery. The first in this state for our Confederate soldiers.
Thanks to the likes of people such as Mary Green, soldiers
were given not only a proper burial, but a burial they deserved. Preserved
throughout history to tell a story from one generation to the next. Mary Green
is buried in Atlanta, Georgia at Oakwood Cemetery. A marker reads, “In
remembrance and appreciation for her service and dedication in locating and
collecting the remains of the soldiers who died on the Resaca battlefield and
re-interring them in a plot of land that would become the first Confederate
cemetery in Georgia.”