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Civil War Soldier Remains Found

A trench hole digger working on a commercial site in Franklin, Tenn., uncovered the remains of what is believed to be a Union solider. According to historian Eric Jacobson, the man probably did not die in the Battle of Franklin on Nov. 30, 1864, but rather several weeks later when Union soldiers were pursuing Confederates who were retreating through Franklin following the disastrous Battle of Nashville.

Jacobson, assistant director of historic Carnton Plantation, said nine or 10 Union soldiers were killed on Dec. 17, 1864, at that very spot where the remains were found on May 14 of this year.

He was called by police when the remains were unearthed and at the scene was shown six Eagle buttons and most of a skull, several teeth and bones from an arm and leg.

"I was surprised at how good the condition was," he said in an interview. The burial space was about two feet below ground level on what had been a farm in 1864. More recently the land had been used as a driving range. Office buildings and restaurants are now planned for the site.

There is little chance the man will ever be identified, because even what state he was from is unknown, Jacobson said. He expects the remains will eventually be buried at Rest Haven Cemetery in Franklin, where other Civil War soldiers are buried.

"He is a soldier and he needs to be buried in a place of respectability and decency," Jacobson said. "What's really important here is that he died long ago, far from home, leaving a family that never knew where or when he died."

By Linda Wheeler  |  June 12, 2009; 11:29 AM ET
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