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A southern general at rest in the North

Published May 29. 2011 4:00AM
Tim Cook/The Day
The headstone of Maj. Gen. Gustavus W. Smith of the Confederate States of America at Cedar Grove Cemetery in New London.

New London - This Memorial Day, when veterans are honored with small American flags placed on their graves, there's one grave in Cedar Grove Cemetery that could be marked with a Confederate flag.

That would be the grave of Maj. Gen. Gustavus Woodson Smith, who commanded the entire army of the Confederacy for just one day, May 31, 1862, at the battle of Seven Pines.

Smith was in over his head, and the battle did not go well. He was relieved the next day by Gen. Robert E. Lee.

How is it, one may ask, that a southern general is buried in a northern grave?

Smith, born in Kentucky and a graduate of West Point, came to New London in 1844 as a lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers, and he spent two years working on the construction of Fort Trumbull.

It was here that he met and married Lucretia S. Bassett, the daughter of a whaling captain.

And so, though he lived most of his life in New York, Kentucky and Tennessee, when he died in 1896, his body was brought to New London to be buried next to his wife.

- Kenton Robinson

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