Vandals defaced a memorial marking the graves of 17 Confederate soldiers buried in Grace Church Cemetery at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Grace Church Road.
The bodies were relocated from their original graves near Fort Stevens in Washington, D.C. to the cemetery in 1874, according to “Silver Spring and the Civil War,” written by Woodside Park resident Robert Oshel (available on Amazon).
“Rev. James B. Avirett, the pastor of Grace Church and a former Confederate soldier, led an effort to move the bodies of seventeen Confederates buried on the Osborn farm near Fort Stevens to the Grace Church cemetery. Reportedly there were three officers and fourteen privates. All were said to be unknown except for Private James B. Bland,” Oshel wrote.
“The monument’s creation and dedication began as a Confederate Veterans Association effort. Possibly in reaction to news that a trolley line was to be built along the road in front of Grace Church near the line of graves, Confederate veterans ‘camps’ in Washington and Rockville decided to move the graves and erect a Confederate monument to honor the fallen soldiers,” Oshel continued.
The marker reads in part, “To the memory of seventeen unknown Confederate dead who fell in front of Washingto, D.C.” and notes the date of the deaths as July 12, 1864.
Excerpts with author’s permission. More information about the memorial and the church post-Civil War is available in Chapter 13, Memorials to the Fallen and the War’s Final Silver Spring Casualty, of Oshel’s history.
Photos by Mike Diegel