Tomb of the Unknown Confederate Soldier
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The Tomb of the Unknown Confederate Soldier is a tomb on the grounds of Beauvoir in Biloxi, Harrison County, Mississippi, that holds the remains of an unidentified Confederate soldier of the American Civil War.
The remains were discovered in late 1979 by Ben Akselson of Beaumont, Texas, member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and Rick Forte, Chairman of the Combined Boards of Beauvoir, on a battlefield of the Vicksburg Campaign. The discovery led to the establishment of the Tomb of the Unknown Confederate Soldier in the Confederate Veterans Cemetery at Beauvoir. The soldier's remains were buried there in a cypress casket in 1980. The tomb, inscribed "Known but to God", was dedicated on June 6, 1981.
The remains were carefully authenticated from artifacts accompanying them, but the identity of the soldier, his unit, and his place of origin are not known. Approval of the plan and official designation was sought and received from all recognized Confederate organizations, including the Sons of Confederate Veterans, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Military Order of the Stars and Bars, and Children of the Confederacy.
The tomb's two sides are inscribed: "The Unknown Soldier of the Confederate States of America." The head of the tomb bears the inscription: Known but to God. Atop of the tomb is the Great Seal of the Confederate States of America, and at its foot is a stanza from the poem CSA by Father Abram Joseph Ryan, poet-priest of the Confederacy.
- Ah! fearless on many a day for us,
- They stood in front of the fray for us,
- And held the foeman at bay for us;
- And tears should fall
- Fore'er o'er all
- Who fell while wearing the Gray for us.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans held ceremonies on May 1, 1983, to award the Confederate Medal of Honor to the Unknown Soldier. The awarding of this medal began in 1976 as a project of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to complete a process begun, but never consummated, by the Confederate Congress. During the war, the Congress had passed measures to honor valor on the battlefield and elsewhere, with President Jefferson Davis' approval, but medals were never awarded. Conditions for the award were similar to those governing the United States Medal of Honor. The medal awarded to the Unknown Soldier was on display in the Beauvoir Confederate Museum.