Couple's enthusiasm for Civil War leads to discovery of burial site
By JOHN COMO, firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: Friday, October 2, 2009 12:05 PM EDT
Don Becker ``lives'' the Civil War.
So does his wife, Rebecca, who joins him at re-enactment ceremonies of Civil War battles in Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.
They have lived the history for six years with several units of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War in re-enactments of the battles at Gettysburg and at Cedar Creek and Lynchburg in Virginia.
Don also has spent that long researching the era and finally tracking down the burial place of his great-great-grandfather Leonard T. Ledbeter Sr. Ledbeter was a private in the Union Army, who was killed June 18, 1864, in the Battle of Lynchburg and buried on the battlefield.
The Beckers have also enjoyed dancing Victorian waltzes and polkas and the Virginia Reel as members of the Mason-Dixon Regiment of the Greensburg area and a Victorian Dance group in Harrisburg. Don wears the uniform of a Union infantryman and Rebecca dons flowing gowns of the era at grand balls after battlefield re-enactments and at demonstrations of Victorian dances in such places as Tyrone, Blair County, and Philippi, W.Va.
``My great-great-grandfather was one of 14 soldiers killed in a charge against Confederate soldiers who held a ridge with cannons,'' Don said. After the battle, he said, the Union soldiers were buried on the battlefield with their names placed on wood markers. After the war, markers were found for eight of the graves with the remains of those soldiers removed and reinterred in the Poplar Grove National Cemetery in Petersburg, Va. The markers for his great-great-grandfather and the five other soldiers were not found, and he was interested in finding where he was buried.
Don said his research revealed that Ledbeter, 42, had traveled to Harrisburg and claimed to be 40 so he would be eligible to join the Army. He said Ledbeter enlisted on Feb. 28, 1862, and was assigned to Company E of the 54th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry that was formed in April 1861 in Johnstown. In 1864, the 54th Infantry was in the heart of the Union Army in the Shenandoah Valley and fought in the battles of New Market, Piedmont, Lynchburg, Third Winchester and Cedar Creek.
Don got a lead on the burial place of his great-great-grandfather last October at a re-enactment of the Battle of Cedar Creek, south of Winchester.
``I asked members of a group of Sons of Union Veterans if they had any connection to the Battle of Lynchburg and was told to contact Mark Day, commander of Taylor-Wilson Camp 10 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War in Lynchburg,'' Becker said. ``Mark Day told me that in the summer of 2007 the remains of a man had been found on the first day of a construction project for dormitories and a soccer field at Lynchburg College.
``The construction was stopped and archeologists came in and found the remains of the other five soldiers during the next two weeks. The remains were taken to a forensic laboratory and that is where they are now. The remains were found in the area of the battlefield where the soldiers died and were buried. I don't know if they will be buried with Union soldiers in Sandusky Cemetery in Lynchburg or at Poplar Grove in Petersburg. We are to be invited for the services when a decision is made.''
On June 20 this year, Don and Rebecca attended a ceremony dedicating a memorial to the 14 Union veterans at Lynchburg College. They accompanied members of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War of Johnstown that included Joy Zimmerman, of Somerset, the granddaughter of Pvt. John W. Mostoller, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery in the Battle of Lynchburg.
``Mostoller did not die in the battle,'' Don said. ``Mostoller was honored for picking up the national flag after the color bearer was shot and continuing to lead the charge against the Confederate Army. The memorial is located on a ridge overlooking a part of the battlefield.''
As an Army veteran who served in South Korea in 1967 and '68, Don said finding Ledbeter's burial place was important. ``There are a lot of families who don't know where their loved ones are after they became prisoners of war or were reported missing in action in the various wars of the nation.''
Ledbeter is one of four ancestors of Becker who served in the Union Army. The others were David Eppley of the 211th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry; Aaron S. Baker of the 16th U.S. Infantry; and Silas Truss of the state of Indiana Volunteer Infantry.
Rebecca Becker's great-great-grandfather, Jacob Kuchenbrod, of the Vintondale area, served in 67th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.
Don said that Ledbeter, Eppley and Kuchenbrod served under various commanders in the Army of the Potomac and Baker and Truss served in the Western Army. He plans to do more research to learn whether they served in any battles together.
The couple recently moved to White Township from Armagh. Both are retired. Don worked at the Conemaugh Generating Station of Reliant Energy and Rebecca at Current Technologies Corp. at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. They have three sons: Jeremy, of Youngwood; Patrick, of Serverna; and Drew, of Fredericksburg, Va., and six grandchildren.
Copyright © 2009 - Indiana Gazette
Online at: http://www.indianagazette.com/articl...s/10024957.txt