Title: Army private, Civil War
Birthdate: 1840
Death Date: October 2, 1875
Plot Location: Section 9, Lot 23, south line

Screenshot (2450)

Part of what makes this burial notable is what very few gravestones have in this cemetery: an  epitaph for each person buried here: Robert, his mother, Dorcas, and his sister, Kate. Most likely it was Kate who wrote a personal message to her mother after she died May 8, 1875. After Robert died five months later, she wrote this poem for his inscription: 

“Thy spurned sister heard thy pleading call
She came and caught thy parting sigh
This monument is but loves pedestal
My brother the shaft would reach the sky.”

Prior to her own passing in 1877, Kate chose a verse from an English poet for her own epitaph.

Beneath Robert’s name it says “October 2, 1875 in his 32nd year.” That places his birthdate in 1843, but the 1850 census says his birth year was 1838, while the 1870 census puts it at 1840.

Robert was apparently named after his father. While there is no mention of him in the census of 1840, 1850, or 1860, Dorcas is listed in an 1862 city directory as the widow of Robert. Nothing else is known of the patriarch. Documentation is sparse about their six children who were enumerated in 1840 and 1850, except the oldest three were born in Delaware and the others in Pennsylvania. All three boys joined the Army, and Kate had a twin sister named Alice.

Robert stated he was 21 and a trucker when he enlisted on August 13, 1861, confirming his birth year was 1840. He was part of Battery F of the 5th US Artillery, initially placed in defense of Washington, D.C. The regiment was at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg before returning to the nation’s capital.

He reenlisted in early 1864 for another three-year term, during which time the 5th was primarily based in Northern Virginia. They dug in during the winter period of trench warfare around the Confederate capital, finally seeing the fall of Petersburg and Richmond on April 3, 1865, and they remained stationed there after the war.

Robert was discharged due to a disability while in Richmond in November, 1866. His post-war occupation is unknown, other than city directory listings as “laborer.” The 1870 census lists him with his mother. He and his siblings purchased the obelisk for their mother after her death in 1875, but no others were buried there after Robert in 1875 and Kate in 1877.


Japanese maple tree in front of a monument at Mount Moriah Cemetery

Support the Friends of Mount Moriah

Help us in our mission to restore and maintain the beautiful Mount Moriah Cemetery by donating to our cause or volunteering at one of our clean-up events.