LAFAYETTE – On a Saturday afternoon in May, a small group representing the lone Indiana chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy stood in a downpour near the back corner of Greenbush Cemetery, along a line of 28 headstones marked, “Unknown CSA.”
At the base of another stone, this one a slab nine feet tall and installed in 1998, the members of the Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest Chapter out of Cicero, planted two, shin-high markers. Pam Schmidt, a Daughters of the Confederacy member from Fort Wayne who helped arrange the ceremony, said the chapter tries to hold Southern Cross of Honor ceremonies – dedicating black, iron crosses ringed by the initials for Confederate States of America and centered by a depiction of a Confederate battle flag – once a year.
They learned about the Lafayette monument to Civil War soldiers – Confederate POWs who died in Lafayette in 1862 and 22 Union soldiers killed in a horrific train collision in southern Tippecanoe County in 1864 – from “Beneath These Stones: The Story of the Confederate Prisoners in Lafayette,” a book author Mary Blair Immel wrote in 1998.
There were prayers, a recitation of the names of the Confederate soldiers buried in a cemetery containing many of Lafayette’s oldest settlers and sprinkling of dirt from Tennessee, where the 38 men had been captured and brought to a prison camp in Lafayette in 1862.
“A very reverent ceremony,” Schmidt called it.