TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The gravesite of Civil War hero General George Thomas was rededicated Saturday after an almost 10-year restoration, during a ceremony that also celebrated his life on what would’ve been his 205th birthday.
“The main focus of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is making sure we don’t forget those who fought in the Civil War for the Union,” said David Dziewulski from the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, the group that took on the project.
From a slave-owning family in Virginia, Thomas served the Union after the state seceded.
“The story goes that they flipped pictures of him towards the wall, no one communicated with him, he even requested a ceremonial sword that was in Virginia be returned to him for his use, and they never delivered it to him during the war,” Dziewulski explained.
Also known as the “Rock of Chickamauga” for his help in holding off the Confederates during the Battle of Chickamauga, Thomas also led Union forces to a decisive victory in the Battle of Nashville.
“He was very successful, it was one of the most devastating defeats of the Confederacy,” Dziewulski said.
The general died several years after the war and was buried at Oakwood Cemetery, at the request of his wife who was from the Collar City.
Over the years, the sarcophagus interning he and his wife began to wear down. But after an almost decade-long project by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, as well as volunteers, the gravesite has been completely restored and was rededicated Saturday.
“What we’re doing is we’re celebrating the life of Thomas, re-dedication of his monument, and all those people that helped,” said Dziewulski.
The president of the cemetery’s board of trustees praised the work done to restore the site, “This is a national treasure, this cemetery is on the National Register. It just adds to the beauty and the history,” Thomas Maggs said.
Dozens of guests, including some in Civil War-era attire, attended the ceremony.