RICHFIELD, Minn. (KMSP) - A Confederate grave marker is not what you would expect to find in Richfield, Minnesota. But if the story of John Dolson teaches you anything, it’s history is never simple.
“What makes it especially mysterious with this one is the camp letterman burials are so well identified,” said Minnesota Historian Stephen Osman.
Osman was among a number of historians involved in a ceremony on Memorial Day that paid tribute to Private Dolson and helped to get his story straight.
Fighting as a member of 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters, Dolson was among thousands killed in the battle of Gettysburg. Days after dying from his wounds, Private Dolson’s casket was mislabeled and later buried as Private John Dobson of the 2nd North Carolina Infantry, a soldier that never existed.
“It wasn’t until 2006 that a researcher in New York state, of all places, contacted the cemetery and said ‘I think you’ve got a Yankee down there,’” said North Carolina Historian Bruce Miller.
Miller, who volunteers at the Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, North Carolina where Dolson was buried, made the trip to Richfield for Monday’s ceremony.
Dolson remains buried in North Carolina, but his headstone has been corrected to reflect he was a Union soldier. In Richfield, a new plaque now honors his service and his old Confederate marker now accompanies it as a historical reminder of his unusual story.