In front of the old courthouse building is a monument that recognizes and remembers the lives and service of 1,096 confederate soldiers who were from Hanover County and fought in the Civil War.
But according to Mechanicsville resident Michael Tyler, not everyone who served has been included on the monument.
Through extensive research, Tyler discovered 305 individuals who are not listed on the statue and felt they should be recognized. Tyler is now working with the Hanover County Historical Society to raise money to add four new tablets of engraved names onto the monument and recently they received approval from the county to make the additions.
Tyler learned that a Hanover soldier named Major John Page wanted all Confederate soldiers from Hanover to be remembered after the war and orchestrated a group to get plans started for the monument.
“What they were seeing after reconstruction, is that a lot of history was being erased and they didn’t want [that],” Tyler said.
However, Tyler said it is not known who actually ended up constructing the statue, but he learned about the efforts to create the statue in a letter to the editor published in the Richmond Dispatch newspaper in 1899 where a committee detailed its proposal for the monument and listed the names of some of the veterans who would be recognized.
Tyler started researching the monument and those acknowledged on it after he noticed that his second great-grandfather, Reuben Austin Tyler, was not included with the other names while his second great-uncle Henry Chapman was.
“So I was trying to figure out why one was and one wasn’t,” Tyler said.
He also noticed that the monument identifies whether the soldier was killed, wounded or died in service with a symbol and individuals are divided up according to whether they served as artillery, infantry or cavalry on the existing tablets.
But, Tyler did not feel it shared enough about the history of those soldiers and what they went through during their time in service.
More research ensued and Tyler searched for documents regarding the monument at Hanover Courthouse, the Library of Virginia archives and read “regimental history books” as well as other publications to find the missing confederate soldiers who were not included. Even after his research, it remains unknown where the original compiled list of soldiers used for the monument resides, Tyler said.
After figuring that out, Tyler wrote a book about the monument and the soldiers it honors called “Hanover County Confederates,” which tells the process of how he discovered the additional soldiers and shares brief information about the individuals and the monument’s known history. With help from the census of 1850, Tyler was able to learn a little bit about each of the soldiers for his book and compare it with the list of Confederates on the statue.
With all of his research over the years, Tyler has spent almost eight years learning about the statue and the men it honors.
“It’s been a long journey,” Tyler said.
But it’s a project he is invested in because of his passion for history and genealogy and learning about the connections that Hanoverians have to the past.
Taylor also wants to make sure everyone who made sacrifices during the Civil War— the bloodiest conflict on American soil — is recognized for their service.
“Plus when you look at the monument, you just have a name. It doesn’t tell you what he went through, what the soldier actually endured,” Tyler said.
Tyler and Hanover County Historical Society hope to raise the needed funds to see the project through in time for the 150th anniversary of the monument in August.