05.30.21: Civil War veterans’ graves

Stones mark military graves in Section 51 of Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio. Most buried in that section died before 1910.

Stones mark military graves in Section 51 of Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio. Most buried in that section died before 1910.

Research made name on stone less anonymous

Tech specs

  • Date/time: Apr 14, 2016 10:50 AM   
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • Lens: EF600mm f/4L IS USM +1.4x 
  • Focal length: 840mm
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Shutter: 1/1250 second
  • ISO: 500

It’s Memorial Day weekend, a time for honoring and mourning military personnel who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

I have a number of photographs of military gravestones from Arlington National Cemetery and other cemeteries with sections dedicated to military burials. This photo, taken in 2016 in Green Lawn Cemetery south of Columbus, Ohio, is the one I think best captures the solemn mood and feeling of history that surrounded the scene.

First, a bit of background.

I often visit cemeteries to do photography. I was in Green Lawn Cemetery that day to find and photograph nesting Great Horned Owls that had been seen in the cemetery. It’s an excellent place to do bird photography. 

I carried my long telephoto lens I use for bird photography. But I knew from previous visits to Green Lawn that the cemetery, which opened in 1849, had several sections dedicated to military graves dating back to the Civil War. So I brought a couple of other lenses in case I found an interesting scene.

As I walked through Green Lawn I saw a cluster of aging military gravestones on a small hill in Section 51 of the cemetery, an older section reserved for military graves. All the stones I saw were from members of the Union Army during the Civil War.

As I photographed the stones I knew I would process the images in black and white to create a sense of age, history and solemnity.  I took some wider photos before putting the long telephoto lens back on the camera, hoping to compress the distance between stones in the cluster to create a tight formation. I focused on one stone about a third of the way into the scene so it would be surrounded with defocused stones.

When I returned home and began processing the files I noticed the name on the stone in focus — Henry Still — and was curious about his history. He needed to be more than an anonymous name on a gravestone in a photograph.

So I hit the internet and spent some research time.

Henry Still was born in 1836 and enlisted with Company K, 125th Regiment, Ohio Infantry, in 1862 at age 26. The 125th Regiment was organized at Camp Taylor in Cleveland, Ohio, on Oct. 6, 1862. According to Wikipedia: “The regiment was attached to 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, XXI Corps (Union Army), in Major General William S. Rosecrans' Army of the Cumberland, till October 1863. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, IV Corps (Union Army) of the Cumberland, till October, 1864. 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 4th Army Corps and Dept. of Texas, till September, 1865. The 125th Ohio Infantry mustered out of service on September 25, 1865. Primarily involved in long marches and skirmishes until Battle of Chickamauga, fighting against the odds. After Chickamauga, Gen. Rosecrans was replaced by Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, 'The Rock of Chickamauga'. The 125th then participated in the Battle of Missionary Ridge, and helped to push Braxton Bragg's men away from Chattanooga, Tennessee. In the spring of 1864, it joined William Tecumseh Sherman in his Atlanta Campaign. They fought all the way until the end, at the Battle of Jonesborough, and then preceded to follow confederate Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood North to Nashville, Tennessee. In Colonel Opdycke's brigade, it fought in Battle of Franklin and the union victory at Nashville. The 125th OVI gained a high reputation for its fighting qualities.”

Still was captured by Confederate troops on June 14, 1863, at Martinsburg, W. Va. He was captured again on July 9, 1864 during the Battle of Monocacy, Md., the northernmost Confederate victory of the Civil War. Nearly 2,200 of the 20,000 Union and Confederate troops at Monocacy died during the battle.

Still mustered out of the Union Army on June 25, 1865, three months before Company K, 125th Regiment was dissolved. The regiment lost 225 men during its three years of existence, including seven officers and 104 enlisted men killed and 114 enlisted men who died of disease.

Still survived the war. He died in 1903 at age 67.

When I returned home and began processing the files I noticed the name on the stone in focus — Henry Still — and was curious about his history. He needed to be more than an anonymous name on a gravestone in a photograph.

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Photographs and text: Copyright - Pat D. Hemlepp. All rights reserved. Photographs may not be used without permission.

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