Civil War veterans exhumed in Cumberland County for proper burial

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 the gap–the oldest war veterans in the cemetery but they almost didn’t make it there.

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

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

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

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

Sheaffer contacted the local Boy Scout troop, and they started digging. This time–literally.

“We brought in chainsaws…cutting through the brush.”

The volunteers making way for exhumation.

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

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

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

After sixty years, Lowell Hassinger says, “It makes me feel good that at least we can do this for this cemetery.”

A memorial ceremony for the three vets will take place in Penn Township on November 16 at 11:00 a.m. A burial service will follow at 1:00 p.m. at Fort Indiantown Gap National Cemetery later that day.

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