Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Private Theodore Hirsch

Earlier I wrote about the restoration work I am doing at Jewish Graceland Cemetery and the grave of an Union soldier (Simon Bournstine) that I marked with an American flag. About thirty yards from Simon’s grave, is the final resting place of Theodore Hirsch. Theodore was a German Jew who immigrated to this country. In 1864, while in Louisiana, he enlisted in the Confederate army. A few months after enlistment, he was captured in battle and moved to the prison camp at Camp Douglas in the South Side of Chicago. This was a notorious prison camp where it has been estimated that over 6,000 Confederate prisoners died. About two months after arriving at the camp, Theodore became one of the casualties.

Most of the camp dead were either buried on the prison grounds or thrown into Lake Michigan! The local Jewish congregation found out about Theodore and arranged for his burial in the Jewish cemetery…and then forgotten! Private Hirsch’s grave is not marked. When I began assisting with the restoration, I learned about his grave and we were able to determine from the records the exact location of his grave. It has no headstone nor any military marker. His grave is right next to the outer wall almost like it was an afterthought.

With assistance from the United Daughters of the Confederacy, I was able to secure a proper Confederate flag (the “First National Flag”) and marked his grave to show the proper respect for a young soldier who died many, many miles from home. I am hoping to obtain a proper headstone from the Veterans Administration.