The last Civil War veteran buried in Vernon County will be honored in a ceremony May 18 that includes a musket salute and the placing of a Last Soldier Marker on the veteran’s grave.
The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), a national veterans organization made up of the descendants of the Union soldiers who fought the Civil War, is conducting the ceremony with help from local history and veterans groups.
Milton E. Crary, the last Union veteran buried in Vernon County, died on May 5, 1939 at the age of 91 in the village of Hillsboro. Crary was born in 1847 in Rock County, and as a youth, moved with his parents to Richland Center, where he helped his father operate a tannery. Later, Crary moved to Hillsboro where he operated a shoe shop for a number of years.
Crary enlisted as a private in Co. F., 46th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, in January 1865. The regiment served in Kentucky and Alabama in the spring of 1865, performing guard duty along the line of the Nashville & Decatur Railroad.
Crary is buried in Mount Vernon Cemetery in Hillsboro. The Last Soldier honor ceremony begins at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 18th, at Crary’s grave.
Camp #15 of the Sons of Union Veterans, based in Wind Lake, will be firing a three-volley salute over Crary’s grave with Civil War muskets and reading the funeral ritual of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), the fraternal organization that Union soldiers formed after the end of the Civil War.
“This Last Soldier Marker is a fitting tribute to one of the soldiers who fought 150 years ago to preserve the liberties we enjoy as a nation today,” said Robert F. Koenecke of Camp #15. Koenecke, past Commander of Camp #15, designed the marker used to honor Crary and is helping lead the drive to place a Last Soldier Marker on the graves of the last Union veteran buried in each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties.
The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War has more than 6,000 members across the country and is the successor to the G.A.R., whose last member died in 1956.