William Garcelon Davis died protecting the American flag. His grave deserves a name
Breaking News: The Associated Press has picked up our story. It has appeared in the New York Times, The Boston Globe, ABC News, NBC, The Denver Post, Army Times, US News, and many more. You can read the article by following this link AP News.
Our relative, Color Sergeant William Garcelon Davis gave his life defending the American flag and his long lost grave may have been recently discovered but the Army refuses to perform DNA testing and give these remains a name. We therefore ask your help to request that a grateful nation finally put a name on the grave of a soldier who paid the ultimate price for his country.
Summary: William Garcelon Davis was a Color Sergeant in the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteers, carrying the American flag into battle. He was killed in combat on August 28-29th, 1862, at the Battle of Brawner's Farm, which occurred the day before the Battle of Manassas/Second Bull Run. Our family never got to see Will’s face again. His final resting place remains unknown.
However, in October 2014 a field hospital burial pit was accidentally unearthed near Brawner’s Farm. It was excavated and extensively studied by the National Park Service and the Smithsonian and the findings reported in the summer of 2018. A first hand account sent in a letter to Will's parents said that Will was shot and loaded into an ambulance that took him to a nearby field hospital where he died. The letter also describes how he was buried at that hospital when the Confederate forces overran it. This is the only first hand account known to describe such a burial on the Manassas Battlefield. The excavated burial pit contained severed limbs from battlefield amputations as well as two skeletons determined to be Union soldiers. One of these skeletons could be the remains of William Garcelon Davis. This skeleton matches Will's wound, age, build, place of birth, and method of burial.
A request was made to the Army for DNA testing to confirm if these were the remains of our missing relative. The Secretary of the Army refused to conduct any test to identify the remains and they were buried at Arlington in a ceremony to open a new area of the cemetery in September, 2018. In a letter to an Associated Press Reporter, the Army said it would be "too costly" to conduct DNA testing. DNA testing is routinely done on remains of soldiers who died in battles from World War II to the present time. The family of William G. Davis believes a grateful nation should attempt to give Will back his name and identity. This website tells his story and asks for your support to identity the remains, and if possible, bring Will home.
The Covenant to bring our dead home and identify their remains
The United State military makes an incredible effort to bring home and identify the remains of our soldiers killed in action in our wars from World War II to the present. The agency charged with this task has the initials D.P.A.A. To learn more about their important work please read New York Times Article.
Please follow the link or watch this brief video to learn more about the D.P.A.A. Great effort and expense is given to return and identify our war dead from wars from WWII to the present. War dead from wars prior to WWII do not have the resources of D.P.A.A. to help with their recovery and identification. Unidentified remains from prior wars the Army considers themselves next of kin. This creates a catch 22 where families have no way to bring their family members home, if the Army does not wish to identify the individual. Why do we not return the names and identities to those who died in prior wars when it is possible and the family can be easily identified? When a soldier makes the ultimate sacrifice and dies for his country, why does it matter in which conflict he died?
"The Nation which forgets its defefenders will itself be forgotten" President Calvin Coolidge
Identification of Remains
"Carrying out the promise to military service personnel to find and bring them home only partially fufills our obligation. We must also identify the remains, for it is a name that transforms a casket full of bilogical material ad minerals into a son, brother, husband, father, or daughter, sister, wife and mother....even if the Soldier Dead had no family whatsoever to whom a name would be important, the members of the Armed Forces consider their comrades to be family and desire that they be brought home and buried with all due recognition." Soldier Dead by Michael Sledge
Would the Army fail to Identify remains in order to have "Unknowns" for a Ceremony?
This seems too cynical to be taken seriously, yet there is evidence from a Vietnam era soldier that the Army did just that. Please see Washington Post Article.
The Discovery of the Remains and Bone Pit
On June 20, 2018 the Park Service announced a historical discovery on the Manassas (Bull Run) Battlefield. A field hospital burial pit had been discovered and carefully excavated. In the pit were the amputated arms and legs of up to 11 individuals and two almost complete skeletons. The Park Service does not normally disturb remans found on the Battlefield but these remains were found where utility work was being done.
The remains were extensively studied by both the Park Service and experts at the Smithsonian Institute. Results and findings were included in an article in the Smithsonian Magazine, on websites and in newsletters. The finding was unusual as there have been very few burial pits discovered. The remains helped scientists better understand how the surgeries were conducted. The report of the discovery was picked up by many news outlets.
Articles on the Bone Pit