Behind a short stone wall surrounding 23 acres of rolling hillsides, more than 18,000 military personnel and their families are buried at Marietta National Cemetery. Among the unmistakable white headstones, two commemorate recipients of the highest honor bestowed upon those who serve in the military -- the US Medal of Honor.
But in one of the horrific realities of war, only one of those heroic service personnel rests in peace in Marietta.
Private Dennis Buckley, a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient from the 136th New York Infantry, is among more than 13,000 Civil War era Union dead buried at the historic cemetery. Buckley, a Canadian native, likely saw multiple battles with the 136th New York before his death at Peach Tree Creek in the Atlanta campaign. Early in the conflict, the 136th New York was recorded to have participated in battles at Chancellorsville, VA; the Battle of Wauhatchie, and the Battle of Gettysburg.
By 1864, the unit had been reassigned to the army of General William T. Sherman as he began the Atlanta campaign. Buckley's New York regiment was active at the battles of Rocky Face Ridge, Resaca, Cassville, Dallas, Kennesaw Mountain, and in the siege of Atlanta. Two days before the Battle of Atlanta and the ultimate siege of the city, Buckley was killed in action at Peach Tree Creek when he crawled on his hands and knees to capture the Confederate regimental flag of the 31st Mississippi Infantry. Buried in Section G at Marietta, Buckley was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously on April 7, 1865 for his bravery.
The second Medal of Honor recipient, Georgia native Corporal Lee Hugh Phillips, never returned home from Korea. He is commemorated with a cenotaph in Section MB, near the flag that flies over the hallowed grounds.
Phillips was awarded the Medal of Honor "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a squad leader of Company E," on November 4, 1950. According to the Medal of Honor Citation, Phillips led his small squad against a heavily-fortified position which had been unsuccessfully attacked on multiple occasion. In a bayonet charge up a hill, Phillips and his squad were outnumbered and outgunned but persisted their attack.
Reaching an "almost inaccessible portion of the hill position," Phillips pressed his attack from the point position, "using one hand to climb up the extremely hazardous precipice" as he hurled grenades with the other. Finally, he a two remaining comrades "succeeded in annihilating the pocket of resistance and in consolidating the position" but were then subject to a fierce counterattack, which they repulsed.
Phillips miraculously survived the battle for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. But he was killed in action just three weeks later, on November 27, 1950, while fighting at the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea. His Medal of Honor was presented to his mother at a Pentagon ceremony in March 1954.
A complete account of Phillips heroism is included in his Medal of Honor citation. While this 2019 Department of Defense profile indicates Phillips was buried at Chosin Reservoir, other sources agreed that his remains were not identified or recovered after his final battle.
Second In A Series
This post is the second in a series of articles about the Marietta National Cemetery and the fallen heroes remembered there. See Part 1 here. Follow DeanLand on NewsBreak to see the full series through May 31.
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