CARNEGIE (KDKA) — In Chartiers Cemetery, sheltered and shaded by a canopy huge of maples, 130 Civil War soldiers find their final rest.
Among them are two who earned the Medal of Honor – one black and one white. James Bronson, 1st Sgt., D-Company, the 5th U.S. Colored Troops and nearby, Capt. James Lemuel Carey, G-Company, the 10th New York Cavalry.
But the marble stones that mark these graves are deteriorating due to acid rain and the ravages of time. Many of the names have simply disappeared.
Marty Neaman marches this Memorial Day with the 9th Pennsylvania Regiment. He and his fellow re-enactor and Vietnam Veteran Joe Hoesch have pledged themselves to restoring those Grand Army of the Republic graves.
“At 16 he went and joined the army as a drummer boy,” Neaman says of Samuel Burns of the Pennsylvania Volunteers. He and Joe have researched every one of the graves to match man with marker.
“When we started, 120 of these we couldn’t read and we decided we needed 120 replaced,” Neaman said.
A few of the graves are engraved merely “soldier” with the year’s 1861-1865. They were re-located from the county home at Woodville.
This cemetery, just off Noblestown Road, opened its gates in 1861 just at the very beginning of the Civil War.
Representatives of the Veterans Administration will do an onsite assessment here in June or July. Marty says replacing the headstones with historical accuracy will cost about $15,000 from private donors.
“We do have to raise a certain amount of money to pay for materials and reset the stones,” Neaman said.
Marty and Joe hope that a year from now the graves will all be restored or replaced so that those passing will stop, and read and remember.
“These names will be gone forever if they’re left like this and we just didn’t want them to be forgotten,” Neaman added.
As part of the project, they would also like to restore the headstones of five World War I soldiers who died in battle.
To donate to this project online, visit: http://www.9thpareserves.org.
Donations may also be sent to: The 9th PA Reserves, c/o The Andrew Carnegie Free Library, 300 Beechwood Avenue, Carnegie, PA 15106.