Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SAILOR RETURNS HOME; Confederate POW's Memorial Delayed 139 Years

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SAILOR RETURNS HOME; Confederate POW's Memorial Delayed 139 Years

Article excerpt

Byline: Jessie-Lynne Kerr, Times-Union staff writer

Cannons boomed, a lone bagpiper played and a regimental band performed God Save the South, the National Confederate Anthem, as hundreds of Confederate descendants and re-enactors paid a final tribute to Lt. Edward John Kent Johnston yesterday at his grave in Bosque Bello Cemetery in Fernandina Beach.

Some in attendance dressed in Confederate uniforms, while women wore antebellum dresses complete with hoop skirts.

Johnston was a Confederate Navy engineer on the CSS Atlanta when it was captured by Union ships at the mouth of the Savannah River on June 17, 1863. He died of pneumonia on Oct. 13 that year while in a Union prisoner of war camp in Boston Harbor. As was the custom, he was buried the next day outside the prison walls. He left a wife and five children in Fernandina.

The government moved Johnston's grave three times due to post closings. His last resting place at Fort Devens, Mass., was closed in 1996. The Massachusetts Department of Veterans Affairs sought to relocate his remains.

A cadre of members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Florida, Georgia, and New England searched nine years for Johnston's relatives. They finally brought Johnston to his final resting place in Fernandina at the feet of his wife in a brief ceremony Oct. 14.

Some of Johnston's living descendants attended the service. Yesterday's memorial service even attracted William D. Hogan of Orlando, who was commander in chief of the 31,000-member Sons of Confederate Veterans from 1990 to 1992.

"I'm delighted to bring a soldier home," Hogan said. "This is special because he was an officer in the Confederate Navy, which wasn't very large."

Hogan said thousands of Confederate war dead haven't been returned to their hometowns. Many of them are buried around Atlanta, Marietta and Macon, Ga., and even more in Elmira and Utica, N.Y., where the Union had large POW prisons. Johnston is believed to be the last confederate POW buried in New England.

The memorial service began with a procession to the grave site led by the bagpiper. Re-enactors dressed as Confederate sailors and soldiers followed, many of them with black mourning ribbons tied around their arms. …

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