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The Buzz

Waynesburg University community members clean the grave of Civil War soldier

Olivia Sanvicente Dec 7, 2023

On Nov. 11, 2023, Waynesburg University community members and members of Pennsylvania’s 140th Company A reenacting group visited and cleaned fallen Civil War soldier David Acheson’s tombstone. Tim Durkin, producer and news director for WCTV, reported on the events at the scene.

In the video, Director of the Eberly Library and Professor Rea Redd described how Acheson was wounded in battle at Gettysburg but was buried at night about a half-mile from where he sustained the injuries and marked the spot with a boulder engraved with “D.A. 140th P.” After the fighting ended, his fellow soldiers rediscovered his body, and they carried him to Washington, Pennsylvania, to be properly buried.

But that was almost 200 years ago, and over time, tombstones accumulate dirt. As Redd describes, a grave can only be cleaned if permitted by the deceased’s descendants. Acheson’s descendants gave Redd permission to clean the grave, and he invited members of Company A of the 140th Pennsylvania reenacting unit to do a 21-gun salute.

Doug Wilson, part-time instructor of communication and a member of Pennsylvania’s 140th Company A reenacting unit, is featured in the video. “It’s an opportunity for us to pay tribute to the men we represent,” he said.

Redd recounted how he brought up four buckets of hot water and began to scrub the tombstone. After the tombstone was cleaned, members of Acheson’s family were present to witness the 21-gun salute. Following the tribute, reenactors observed a moment of silence to remember Acheson’s legacy.

The video was shot and edited by senior communication major Tim Durkin with assistance from alum Micah Leith ('23).