Civil War soldier is given belated salute

June 14, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL


Frederick County, Md., native and soldier Jesse Hyder received what was described as a proper military ceremony at his grave site under a dreary sky Sunday morning.

However, unlike most soldiers being saluted at services these days, Hyder died nearly a century ago. He fought with Union forces in the Civil War.

Close to a dozen descendants of Hyder, many from the southern New Jersey area, attended a the ceremony at Rose Hill Cemetery, where a gravestone was unveiled and a group of Civil War re-enactors gave a salute. Hyder, who died in February 1914 at age 74, was buried just more than 90 years ago without a gravestone or military funeral despite nearly three years of service.


Capt. Jay Henson of Company A of the 7th Maryland Regiment Volunteer Infantry U.S., an area Civil War re-enactment group, said the group was started in 1995 in part to honor those who fought in the war and to educate people about it.

He said continuing to honor those who fought in the Civil War is just as important as honoring veterans of World War II and the current conflict in Iraq.

"Today, we gave Jesse Hyder the proper military funeral that he never received many years ago," Henson said.

Henson and other regiment members lauded members of Hyder's family for researching the long-forgotten soldier.

Family members pointed to great-great-grandson Don Wiles' efforts as the reason behind the ceremony for Hyder, as well as their trips Sunday to a re-enactment in Funkstown and a tour of Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg.

"When I found the grave, I thought it'd be neat if there was a re-enactment group that'd be willing to do this," said Wiles, of Mt. Laurel, N.J.

Though several of Hyder's descendants have researched his military experience and place of burial, Wiles' two years of searching provided the family with a wealth of information.

Wiles learned the following information through U.S. Department of Interior service and pension records he recovered in an Internet search:

  • Hyder lived on Corbett Street in Hagerstown.

  • He was married four times, not three, as the family originally thought.

  • He died of pneumonia.

  • He fought in Company B of the 7th Maryland Regiment Infantry.

  • He suffered deafness, and gunshot wounds to the right foot, left foot and left arm in four Civil War incidents between July 1863 and March 1865, all in Virginia.

Wiles even found Andrew K. Coffman Funeral Home on East Antietam Street, which buried his great-great-grandfather.

"They said, 'Yeah, we buried him, and you owe us 15 bucks,'" Wiles said, laughing. "I stopped by to see them, but they wouldn't take the money."

Wiles' efforts also helped give Sunday's service the feel of a small family reunion. In fact, Wiles and Hyder's great-great-granddaughter, Jessica Hyder-Olszewski, of Audubon, N.J., met for the first time over the Internet as a result of researching family history. For years they lived within a few miles of each other.

"Today was kind of a culmination of all the stuff we read about him," Hyder-Olszewski said. "It was really nice."

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