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Suspects sought in vandalism of Confederate cemetery in Gordon County, sheriff’s office says

Entrance to the Resaca Confederate Cemetery. (Jordon Fuquea/Wikimedia Commons)

The Gordon County Sheriff’s Office is looking for suspects in a case of vandalism at a Confederate Cemetery in Resaca.

According to an incident report, a sheriff’s deputy visited the Resaca Confederate Cemetery on July 1 and noticed small Confederate flags had been picked up and re-arranged around the grounds. Some were lying on the ground while others were displayed to spell “STOP RACISM.”

The small flags that are displayed at the cemetery aren’t the Confederate battle flag that is most popular among the Confederacy’s symbols. The flags at the cemetery are the second national flag of the Confederacy, which are mostly white with the “stars and bars” in one corner.

The cemetery’s caretaker, who lives just down the road from the cemetery, told deputies he didn’t see anyone on the grounds and was very upset about the flags, according to the incident report.

The sheriff’s office has deemed the incident a criminal trespassing case.

Confederate monuments, statues and memorial sites have come under scrutiny — and have faced official and unofficial removal — as the nation responds to the resurgent Black Lives Matter movement after the death of George Floyd in custody of Minneapolis police on May 25.

In nearby Dalton, activists have called to relocate the statue of Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston that has been on the town’s square for over 100 years. The owners of the statue — a local chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy — have said they are open to relocating the statue to a more appropriate location like a museum or a Civil War memorial site.

Critics of these memorials say they celebrate controversial figures who fought to keep Black people enslaved and are public reminders of the country’s ugly past. People who want statues like the Johnston statue in Dalton to stay say the statues are part of the country’s history and should remain so the country does not repeat its history.

After the Confederate Army was defeated in Chattanooga in November 1863, many of the troops retreated to Dalton for the winter. By May the following year, Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman began his march to Atlanta from Chattanooga with more than 100,000 troops.

Portions of that force had skirmishes with Rebels near Resaca on May 13, and the Battle of Resaca began the next day.

Resaca’s Confederate Cemetery holds the bodies of more than 450 Confederate soldiers who died just north in the two-day battle.

One woman, Miss Mary J. Green, dug up bodies hastily buried on the battlefield and hauled them to the current cemetery site. The first, wooden grave markers later burned or rotted, James Lay, president of the Gordon County Historical Society, said in 2013.

There were no vandalism suspects as of Tuesday afternoon. Anyone with information about the incident should call the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office at 706-629-1245.


© 2020 the Chattanooga Times/Free Press