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Ceremony honors Confederate officer, McDuffie Rifles unit

Laid to rest in 1870, Maj. William Britton Hundley, II, once again had relatives dressed for mourning standing over his grave at a special memorial service in his honor. Approximately 80 people attended the rededication of the gravesite of the Confederate officer from Warrenton that was held Saturday in the Warrenton Cemetery.

The gravesite was discovered last year and restored by Maj. Hundley's great-grandson, Ben Willingham. Mr. Willingham said he organized the service to not only pay tribute to his great-grandfather, but "to all the young men from Georgia at that time who answered the call of duty." For the ceremony, Mr. Willingham's wife wore a replica of the mourning dress worn by Maj. Hundley's wife.

"It is our duty to share the heritage of the South to future generations," Tom Holley, a Thomson resident and member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said during the ceremony. "The Major's grave represents the link for us to do that."

A history was given of the McDuffie Riflemen, a confederate volunteer unit, along with recognition of each Confederate States of America soldier buried in the Warrenton Cemetery. A gun salute was given by re-enactors from the Museum of Southern History in Jacksonville, Fla., Amazing Grace was played on the bagpipes by David Butler during the laying of the wreath by Steve Longcrier and Mr. Willingham. A tribute to Maj. Hundley included a brief biography given by Mr. Holley. Phil Turner, the "Gray Poet," read one of his poems, "Rebel Comin'," after which Mr. Butler played Taps on the bugle.

"It was a class act," said Jeffrey Britton Hundley, Sr., the great-great-great grandson of Maj. Hundley. "It was all very well done. A lot of thought went into it. It was well organized."

Others involved in the ceremony were members of the W.H.T. Walker Chapter #2253 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy from Augusta/Evans and members of the Major General Ambrose Ransom Wright Camp #1914 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans from Columbia County.

"I had no idea what to expect of how many people would attend," Mr. Willingham said after the ceremony. "But it turned out very well."

Jeffrey Hundley came from Atlanta to attend the ceremony with his son, Jeffrey, Jr., and his brother, Mike, who is also from Atlanta.

"It was enlightening on my family history," said Jeffrey, Jr., who is 18. "This was all a new experience for me, and I think it is great. It is nice to know my family roots."

The service with replica clothing from various times of Southern history was also new to Maj. Hundley's great-great niece, Nancy Dolce. Mrs. Dolce came from Tecumseh, Mich., where she has lived all of her life. Mrs. Dolce said this was her first exposure to anything Southern.

"But I appreciated it from the family's point of view," she said.

Her family, however, didn't let that rest. She was teased by her cousins, Jeffrey, Sr., and Mike.

"They told me there was going to be a Yankee hanging," she said. "And I'm the only Yankee here, so I'm trying to keep a low profile."

Web posted on Thursday, March 29, 2007

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