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Camp Chase soldier returns to post
The “Southern Soldier” has returned to his post.
|Messenger photos by Whitney Wilson Coy
|The soldier from the top of the monument at Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery was recently removed for restoration. He was returned, by use of a crane, on Sept. 27.
|The refinished “Southern Soldier” stands near the cemetery’s entrance.
The soldier from the top of the monument at Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery was removed two months ago for repair and restoration.
The process took longer than anticipated due to problems removing him from his base.
“They thought he was hollow and he’s not,” explained Dick Hoffman of the Hilltop Historical Society. “They cut him from the base and thought they could just lift him off, but he’s a lot heavier than they thought he was.”
According to Monty Chase, also of the Hilltop Historical Society, the statue weights over 800 pounds.
In order to remove the soldier, he had to be lifted out of the cemetery with a crane. Due to the high tension lines along Sullivant Avenue, the crane had to be operated from the lot behind Saint Mary Magdalene School.
Once the monument was removed, he was taken to Cleveland for the restoration process. The same method was enlisted to return him to his base.
Members of the historical society were surprised to learn the statue, which was always thought to be made of bronze, is actually composed of zinc.
“We always thought he was bronze and that he had just turned green like bronze tends to do,” said historical society member Lois Neff.
Members of the community stood in the rain on Sept. 27 to watch the soldier make his return.
“We think he looks terrific,” said Chase, “He’s ready for his next 100 year enlistment.”
“We’re just glad to have him back,” added Neff.
According to Bernard Blizzard of the Dayton National Cemetery, the organization which serves as custodian for Camp Chase, the project was funded with federal stimulus funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Things have been looking up for Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery in the last year.
The restoration of the soldier is actually the last step in a long line of improvements the cemetery has seen.
The arch and rock underneath the soldier have also been recently restored, and the wording on the rock were darkened.
Last summer, each headstone was removed, cleaned and straightened. Missing headstones were replaced, new turf grass was established and trees were pruned and trimmed.
“We’re really happy with the work they [the Dayton National Cemetery] have done here,” said Chase, “It looks great.”
Camp Chase was a civil war camp established in May 1861. Boundaries of the camp were what are now Broad Street, Hague Avenue, Sullivant Avenue, and Westgate. Named for former Ohio governor and Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, it was a training camp for Union troops, a parole camp, a muster-out post, and a prison for Confederate captives.
As many as 150,000 Union soldiers and 25,000 Confederate prisoners passed through the camp by 1865. More than 2,000 Confederates are buried in the cemetery, many of those in mass graves.
The present headstones were originally set in 1936 in numerical order starting from the west. It is unknown if there is a body to match each headstone, or if headstones are in close proximity to the deceased soldiers they represent.
The statue of the soldier was dedicated in 1904. He faces the south, towards his home.
Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery is the third largest Confederate cemetery north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
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