Civil War veterans exhumed in Cumberland County for proper burial

NEWVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) – Three Civil War veterans buried on property in Cumberland County and neglected for more than a century are now getting the recognition they deserve.

They will be the first three Civil War vets buried at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery, making them the oldest war veterans in the cemetery. But they almost didn’t make it there.

As a boy, Lowell Hassinger walked to the woods behind his house every Veterans Day.

“My father and I would put flags on the GAR standards,” Hassinger said.

In his backyard was a cemetery with three Civil War veterans, neglected when Hassinger moved away.

“When we came back, the headstones were missing,” he said.

He reached out to Penn Township supervisor Ken Sheaffer, who started digging through a century of paperwork.

“They were actually members of the 54th Regiment, the black regiment from Massachusetts, which the movie “Glory” was made about,” Sheaffer said.

Sheaffer contacted the local Boy Scout troop and they started digging; this time literally.

“We brought in chainsaws, cutting through the brush,” Sheaffer said.

The volunteers made way for exhumation.

“It was exciting when we think this is somebody who was here for 150 years and basically was totally forgotten about it,'” Sheaffer said.

What they found was just dust and ash, but they wanted it to be reburied somewhere special. That place is Indiantown Gap National Cemetery.

“We’ve never had Civil War veterans, so we’re excited about that,” program support assistant Randy Plummer said. “Simply because everybody asks us about them and we’ve never had them, so this is great.”

“It makes me feel good that at least we can do this for this cemetery,” Hassinger said.

A memorial ceremony for the three vets will take place in Penn Township on Nov. 16 at 11 a.m. A burial service at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery will follow at 1 p.m.

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