Luminaria for Civil War Soldiers
Olivet Cemetery, located on Rt. 55 above Moorefield, formally known as Cemetery Hill, is the site of much Civil War history for Hardy County. Recognized with a Civil War Trails emblem, the signage for the cemetery relates, “Soldiers of both north and south buried here, battles took place on the cemetery and adjoining hill Jan. 3, 1863 Col. James Washburn (USA) attached by Gen. William E. Jones (CSA) Union won. Sept. 11, 1863 Capt. McNeill defeated Maj. W. E. Stevens.” The Friends of Deceased Confederate Soldiers erected a monument encircled by graves confederate soldiers in 1867. Hardy County’s most famous Civil War figure, John Hanson McNeill was interred at Olivet Cemetery in January 1865. “Hanse” McNeill, appointed Capt. of 2nd Co. E 18th Va. Cav. 24 in September, 1862 became the leader of the independent company known as McNeill’s Rangers.
Civil War soldiers dug trenches into the hillside and according to signage at the cemetery, “It is most likely that Federal forces camping on Cemetery Hill had prepared trenches for their protection. Remnants of these trenches are still visible… Olivet Cemetery‘s Civil War trenches are located on the far north eastern slope of the Cemetery. Two smaller ones are somewhat oval in shape and approximately 20 feet on the long side. The third trench is located southeast of these first two and is of a semicircular shape. It is approximately 60 feet from end to end.”
Friday evening of Heritage Weekend a reverent lighting of a Luminaria Memorial by members of the McNeill’s Rangers, SCV Camp 582, marking the grave sites of Civil War soldiers buried at the Confederate Circle. Visitors may view the Luminaria by vehicle, entering the cemetery from Winchester Avenue (Rt. 55) the Confederate Circle will be at the top of the hill on the right.
Be sure to observe the posted Speed Limit of 5 mph and ONE WAY traffic signs and exit at the far end of the cemetery on Paskell Hill Drive.
Location: From Winchester Avenue (Rt. 55) turn right onto Olivet Drive, proceed to top of hill, the Confederate Memorial will be on the right.
Photo by Albert Mach