The body of the only unknown Confederate soldier buried at the Beaufort National Cemetery has now been identified after 150 years. A release from the Historic Beaufort Foundation said a combination of hard work and happenstance allowed them to identify the body as a North Carolina man who died from injuries he suffered from fighting around the Charleston Harbor.
The foundation said the body is that of Private Haywood Treadwell, of the 61st N.C. Volunteers, Company G. Treadwell’s identity had been unknown for nearly a century and a half due to a misspelled name, according to area resident Penelope Holme Parker. Parker said she came across evidence of Parker’s true identity while researching a 200-year-old house in the area.
The news was first reported by the Beaufort Gazette.
Less than a year after South Carolina seceded from the U.S., Union soldiers and sailors seized the Port Royal and Beaufort areas in November 1861. A military hospital was soon established to handle casualties from surrounding campaigns. Those who did not survive were buried in what eventually became Beaufort National Cemetery in 1863.
According to historical records, Treadwell was shot in the leg while defending Battery Wagner in the Charleston Harbor (a battle made famous by the film “Glory”) and captured by Union soldiers. He was taken to Beaufort, where he eventually died from his injuries two months later.
Parker was asked to investigate the history of the William Wigg Barnwell House, which had been converted into a hospital during the Union occupation. During her work, she found documents in 2010 that reveal a “Heyward” Treadwell was buried in the same plot as the Unknown Confederate. Parker believes that, since regimental records did not show anyone in the 61st N.C. had the name, Treadwell was buried anonymously.
“Union records had made a mistake in his first name. Confederate records had made other mistakes about where he wound up as a prisoner of war,” Parker told South Carolina Radio Network. “Because both sides had mistakes, he wound up being an unknown soldier.”
She said her effort officially identify the body has taken years and lots of red tape. “We had to go through three years of having our research verified by the federal government, because he’s buried in a national cemetery. But we now have a headstone with his name on it.”
A May 9 symposium at the University of South Carolina Beaufort campus will trace Treadwell’s life from his career as a turpentine farmer to his death as a prisoner-of-war. A memorial service will be held in the cemetery the following morning. The Historic Beaufort Foundation said some of Treadwell’s descendants will be in attendance.
There are roughly 7,500 Civil War soldiers interred in the cemetery. Treadwell is the last of 117 Confederates to be identified, but 174 Union soldiers are still buried anonymously.
Sheree Bernardi of Charleston affiliate WTMA contributed to this report