Thousands of Civil War soldiers buried in unmarked graves in Salisbury cemetery

SALISBURY, N.C. — Thousands of Civil War soldiers are buried in unmarked graves in a Salisbury cemetery.

One man is making it his mission to give them the recognition they earned in war.

For the past eight years, Mark Hughes said he has been asking the government to label the gravesites of more than 3,500 Union soldiers who died while in a Confederate prison in Salisbury.

Their bodies were thrown in mass trenches and Hughes said many of their families never learned how they died or where they were buried.

"What I would like to see are bronze tables. Maybe four by eight with the name, rank and the unit of every soldier," Hughes said.

But in the most recent letter from the Department of Veteran Affairs, Hughes said they turned down his request.

The letter said in part, "It would not be historically appropriate to affix bronze plaques." The letter also said prison records listing the names of each soldier were "incomplete and in disarray."

Hughes argues that the records are accurate.  He said a VA officials told him there was another reason why they wouldn't install the markers.

"She said, 'You know that the markers are not going to happen. That would be too much work,'" Hughes said.

Hughes and others say no matter how long it takes, it's the right thing to do.

"For family members to come and see a name and put that with their family member rather than to just come and see unknown," said Toni Hill.

Channel 9 reached out to the Department of Veteran Affairs, but has not heard back yet.