Historic Markers Across Georgia

Stone Mountain Cemetery

Marker ID:  L1
Location: 6204 East Ponce de Leon Avenue, Stone Mountain, GA
County: DeKalb
Coordinates: N 33° 48.735    W 084° 10.281
  33.81225    -84.17135
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


Stone Mountain Cemetery
Forever Comrades

—March to the Sea Heritage Trail —

On July 18 & 19, 1864, during the Atlanta Campaign, Union Brigadier General Kenner Garrard's cavalry division raided Stone Mountain. They skirmished with the Confederate cavalry brigade of Colonel George G. Dibrell, destroyed two miles of railroad track, a water tank, military stores and 200 cotton bales.

Interment of Confederate soldiers began here in 1864. Half were with five local units:

"McCullough Rifles" (Company D, 38th Georgia Infantry), "Magruder Dragoons" (Company H, 2nd Georgia Cavalry), "DeKalb Riflemen" (Third Company C, 12th Battalion Georgia Artillery), "Stone Mountain Guards" (Company H, 8th Regiment Georgia State Guards) and Company E, 36th Georgia Infantry. The initial 150 burials filled much of the original cemetery. Local veterans Private Ransom M. Thompson and Surgeon John L. Hamilton donated land to increase the cemetery to 16 acres. Another 65 veterans, including Thompson and Hamilton, eventually joined their comrades.

Among the Confederate veterans buried here are Paul T. Goldsmith (a Georgia Military Institute cadet), Captain John H. F. Mattax (a Mexican War veteran and Captain John G. Rankin (who enlisted at age 45). Sergeant Jesse B. Taliaferro joined the 1st Georgia Regulars before the war started and surrendered after more than four years of continuous duty.

Four others surrendered at Appomattox, Virginia: Sergeants William F. A. Dickerson and James A. Mackin, plus Privates Isaac B. Pope and John L. Sawyer. At age 16, Sawyer enlisted eight months before the war ended. His headstone includes a carving of the Southern Cross of Honor. Created in 1898 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy this medal was awarded to thousands of Confederate veterans, including nine buried here.

Several veterans suffered wounds. During the Battle of Resaca, Georgia, a bullet fractured Private Edward N. Nash's left knee. Nash hobbled his remaining fifty years. His cousin, Corporal Isaac N. Nash, lost a hand at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Other veterans survived imprisonment. Private William V. Cronic and Corporal James A.J. Duren endured below-zero temperatures at Camp Morton in Indianapolis, Indiana. Sergeant Elwin L. Phillips survived deplorable conditions at Rock Island, Illinois, while 2nd Lieutenant John F. McClelland was imprisoned at Fort Delaware. After the war McClelland became a Presbyterian minister and chaplain of the Georgia House of Representatives. Sergeant Philip B. McCurdy also became a preacher, at Stone Mountain Baptist Church, where Lieutenant George R. Wells was Sunday School superintendent for fifty years.

The nearby granite monolith "Stone Mountain" silently witnessed Union Major General William T. Sherman's "Left Wing" begin its "March to the Sea." Soldiers in the Federal 14th and 20th Corps clearly saw the summit while marching east on November 15 & 16, 1864. Major James A. Connolly wrote that Stone Mountain was "one of the great natural curiosities of this continent." Private Rice C. Bull of the 123rd New York Infantry Regiment called it "a big round stone as smooth as a pawing block without...any vegetation or trees on its surface." General Sherman remembered it as "a mass of granite...cut out in clear outline against the blue sky."

A photo of this marker can be found on HMDB.org