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African-American Civil War Veteran Honored During Memorial Day Event

Reed Was Buried In Unmarked Grave

Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

The dedication of a military headstone for an African-American man who fought in the American Civil War was among the Memorial Day highlights in Milwaukee on Monday. The former Union soldier had been buried in an unmarked grave for 120 years.

Half dozen African-American Civil War reenactors marched through Forest Home Cemetery to the grave of William Reed. He was a member of Wisconsin’s only company of the U.S. Colored Troops. About a dozen of the soldiers died in the Battle of the Crater near Petersburg, Virginia, in 1864.

Reed survived the Civil War, but when he died in 1895, he was buried in an unmarked grave — a development that was only recently discovered.

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Reenactor Rickey Townsell said that dedicating a military headstone for Reed is important.

“Not only to be a part of living history, but also to give a fallen soldier his honor,” he said.

He said it’s important to set things straight.

“It’s not only our privilege and our honor, but we feel it’s our duty to see that any fallen soldier from any era is given just and proper military honors,” he said.