Share This Page

Civil War veterans buried in Unity Cemetery honored

| Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, 7:11 p.m.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Navy veteran John Gipson of Penn Hills visits the grave of his great-great grandfather Henry Gipson at Unity Cemetery in Unity Township on Saturday, November 9, 2013. Henry Gipson is a Civil War veteran who served in the 142nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry from August 26, 1862, through May 5, 1863, then re-enlisted as a member of the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment on February 10, 1864, through July 1, 1865.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Portraying a soldier of the Union Army during the American Civil War, Bret Albaugh of New Alexandria plays taps during a memorial service on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, honoring the Civil War veterans interred in Unity Cemetery near Latrobe.

There are 145 Union Army veterans buried in Unity Cemetery in Unity, said Mary Lou Townsend, president of the Latrobe Area Historical Society

Members of the community gathered on Saturday to honor them at Unity Chapel, where they heard Civil War-era music performed by the 11th Regimental Band and opening remarks from Townsend, who serves on the Unity Cemetery Association.

“Our purpose today is to honor the 145 Union veterans — and we do have one Confederate — buried here in Unity Cemetery ... who enlisted during the Civil War and went on to preserve the Union,” Townsend said.

There are Civil War veterans buried in cemeteries throughout Westmoreland County, according to Lisa Hays, executive director of the Westmoreland County Historical Society.

Hays and the society are working to preserve the stories of those veterans.

The Latrobe Area and Westmoreland County historical societies presented Saturday's event as part of a series of events that mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the Westmoreland County soldiers who served.

“We wanted to do some things to commemorate (the anniversary),” Hays said.

The first event of the series was held in May at St. Clair Cemetery, where Civil War veteran and Westmoreland County native Richard Coulter Sr. is buried, Hays said. She added that the historical society plans to host several more events for the series.

The audience sang the national hymn, “God of Our Fathers,” and the Rev. Clark Kerr led a memorial meditation, during which he asked the audience to meditate on the words of H.S. Washburn's “The Vacant Chair” as the band performed George F. Root's accompanying music. The crowd also sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and participated in a responsive reading of the Gettysburg Address.

Historian Alfred Young spoke about the 53rd Pennsylvania Infantry, and the band performed the iconic taps.

After the ceremony, attendees were guided to various Civil War veteran grave sites, where volunteers and some students from Latrobe Area High School's history class discussed the background of the individuals who gave their lives in battle. Attendees were given handouts which listed all of the veterans buried in Unity Cemetery, including their accomplishments and bits of their histories.

South Greensburg resident Bruce Blackson was very appreciative of the opportunity to attend such a moving ceremony, as he recently learned one of his ancestors, Robert Blackson, is buried in Unity Cemetery.

“There are just no words to describe it,” he said.

For more information about the Westmoreland County Historical Society's series of Civil War events, visit www.westmorelandhistory.org.

Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or nchynoweth@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.