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Died, buried and body stolen
Memorial tombstone placed for Confederate war hero after nearly 145 years
Bland stone
The memorial headstone for Hiram Bland is shown. - photo by ROGER ALLEN/special
    After nearly 145 years, Confederate war hero Hiram Bland came home Saturday.
    The Bulloch County native died in a Union Army prison camp on in 1864 after he was captured in the Battle of Atlanta. His body was buried, but stolen and never recovered.
    Saturday, a memorial tombstone marker was placed next to the gravesite of his wife, Jincy Crumpton Bland Jones, at the Upper Mill Creek Primitive Baptist Church's cemetery near Hopeulikit.
    Present at the cemetery were several descendants, including Ann Hartman and Julie Temple Miller (great-great granddaughters of Hiram) and Rosemary Jones (great-great-great granddaughter of Hiram). A number of local historians were also present, including Dennis Ranney and Hugh Daughtry.
    The story of how Private Hiram Bland came to be something of a Confederate icon is a curious and yet tragic tale. He enlisted in Capt. Lloyd Carleton Belt's Company of the Ninth Georgia Infantry in 1861, and was sent home due to a debilitating illness.
    He re-enlisted, this time with the First Georgia State Line, and was captured during the Battle of Atlanta in 1864. Eventually, he ended up a Camp Chase, in Columbus, Ohio, which was named for Salmon P. Chase, the former Ohio Governor and Secretary of the Treasury.
    At first used to train Union Army volunteers, the camp soon began to house political prisoners who opposed the war. As the war progressed, Confederate soldiers were sent to this location, with as many as ten thousand prisoners being incarcerated here by the end of the war.
    Conditions were horrible, and many of these Confederate soldiers died, including Private Bland. Records show that he died on Thanksgiving night in 1864. He was buried in the camp's cemetery in grave number 512.
    It is at this point the story takes a macabre turn. A total of six bodies were dug up that very night by several Columbus residents, who then shipped the bodies to Cleveland where they were sold to the Cleveland Medical Hospital for dissection.
    According to Dennis Ranney a historian who has been investigating this story for many years, body snatching was not altogether uncommon. Also, Ranney said at Camp Chase it was apparently quite profitable.
    The ringleader of this group of body-snatchers was Dr. Joab Flowers, who was aided by a blacksmith D.W. Carpenter. Carpenter put the cadavers in boxes labeled as freight and Joseph Sterling, the son of the freight agent on whose railroad the boxes were shipped to Cleveland.
    Flowers was quoted in a German-language newspaper (Des Wesbote) as saying that he felt that the rebel bodies “were fit for nothing but dissection.” Flowers was arrested, held for a short while, and then released.
    Unfortunately, Bland's body was never found.
    Present at the memorial were several Sons of Confederate Veterans Camps, including the Ogeechee Rifles of Statesboro, the Dixie Guards of Metter, and Camp Davis of Guyton). Author Daughtry spoke to those assembled about Private Bland.
    In addition, the Black Creek Light Artillery (comprised of members of SCV camps from all over South Georgia) was in attendance. Bland's memorial service was highlighted by cannon salutes from their twelve-pound Mountain Howitzer, a three-inch Ordinance Rifle, and a Mountain Rifle.
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