Cold Harbor Battlefield

The Battle of Cold Harbor was fought in Hanover County near Mechanicsville, Virginia from May 31 to June 12, 1864 between Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Potomac in the American Civil War. The battle was a Confederate victory and resulted in approximately 18,000 total casualties. It was the last engagement of Grant’s Overland Campaign.

The Cold Harbor Battlefield is part of Richmond National Battlefield Park. Only about 300 acres of the approximately 7,500-acre battlefield are currently preserved. The Civil War Trust has managed to save 69 acres, but preservation efforts are ongoing.

The earthworks pictured above were dug and manned by troops of Confederate Lt. General Richard Anderson’s First Corps. On June 1, men of Maj. Gen. Robert F. Hoke and Brig. Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw’s divisions fell back to this final position. On June 3, the left flank of the Union XVIII Corps and the right flank of the VI Corps attacked this site. Union and Confederate soldiers found themselves 200 yards apart in some places. Confederate soldiers built sheltered tunnels leading from the rear to their entrenchments, so they could move supplies back and forth without being exposed to fire.

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The Many Mysteries of Bachelor’s Grove

Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery has been an enigma of southwestern suburban Chicago for over four decades. Like most such locations, it started out with a mundane existence. Over a century ago, picnickers dressed in their Sunday best lounged under oak trees in the park-like atmosphere of the cemetery. Two of the grove’s neighbors heated their small homes with coal burning stoves and drew water out of their brick wells, while horse drawn buggies trotted down the dirt road. It was a much different scene from today.

Much of the origins of Bachelor’s Grove have been obscured by the passage of time. Even its name is a mystery. Some say it was named after a group of single men who settled in the area around the 1830s, but a family named Batchelder already owned the land. According to Ursula Bielski, author of Chicago Haunts, the cemetery itself was originally named Everdon’s. Its first burial was in 1844, and the cemetery eventually contained 82 plots.

In the early half of the 20th Century, the Midlothian Turnpike ran past the cemetery, over the stream, and beyond. Today, the broken road appears to end at the cemetery gates, but closer inspection of a long ridge across from the stream reveals a roadbed that has been nearly reclaimed by the forest. The road was closed in the 1960s. Locals say that was when the trouble began.

According to the Chicago Tribune’s Jason George, the body of a teenage girl was found in the woods in 1966, and in 1988 a man, who had been murdered by a former girlfriend, was found in the cemetery. Aside from those gruesome incidents, grave desecration regularly occurred. Bodies were dug up, animals were sacrificed, and headstones were moved or stolen.

Then the ghosts came.

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Introducing Memento Mori

Hello friends! I’d like to announce a new blog dedicated to cemetery photography called Memento Mori. If you enjoy cemetery art, sculpture, and history, like I do, you’ll love this new blog. I hope to update it with new photos 4-5 times a week. I grew up with an interest in cemeteries. As an amateur historian, I loved the Victorian Period especially, with its romantic architecture, literature, and art. I hate everything about modern cemeteries, with their flat, cheap, and mass-produced headstones.

When I was younger, I enjoyed visiting cemeteries and looking at the artwork, and naturally, I wanted to share what I’d seen. As I got better at photography, I thought back to people like Matt Hucke, also a native Chicagoan, who captured images of this beautiful and haunting artwork, much of which is in danger due to erosion and vandalism. Although I’m not nearly as good a photographer, I created this blog to share some of my work. I hope you enjoy seeing these images as much as I enjoyed taking them!

Check it out at memento-mori.co, and follow to get daily photos in your in-box.

A tribute to Harmony Korine’s Gummo

My tribute to Harmony Korine’s Gummo (1997), filmed in Syracuse, New York. Gummo is an art film written and directed by Harmony Korine, starring Jacob Reynolds, Nick Sutton, Jacob Sewell, and Chloë Sevigny. It’s set in Xenia, Ohio, a small, poor Midwestern town devastated by a tornado.

My version of ”Bunny Boy” was played by Daisy Rose. The original bunny ears hat was custom made by Chloë Sevigny, so I had to use ears from Bob’s Burgers. “I Love my Little Rooster” sung by Almeda Riddle, recorded by John Quincy Wolf, Jr. on May 10, 1962, courtesy of The John Quincy Wolf Folklore Collection, Lyon College, Batesville, Arkansas.