Civil War vet finally laid to rest
She made a few calls and was stunned to hear that Peter Knapp's ashes were sitting on a storage shelf, unclaimed. She later inquired about Knapp's wife, Georgianna, who died in 1930. She was there, too.
"I felt the ashes had to be buried or at least scattered somewhere," said Alice Knapp. "Not sitting in some storage locker."
The reason why nobody ever scattered or buried the ashes at the time has probably been lost to history. A family friend, Debbie Peevyhouse of the California Medal of Honor Project, arranged to have them placed in the national cemetery.
The hearse carrying the twin gold boxes containing the ashes arrived on a road lined with Patriot Riders holding American flags. The speakers largely focused on what Peter Knapp endured as a soldier, his incredible reunion with the man he shot and his commitment to his wife of more than 53 years.
"May we all be inspired by his example of loyalty and fidelity," said D.H. Shearer, an Oregon pastor who, on this day, was a Union chaplain.
The Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War performed a ritual for the dead based on a Grand Army of the Republic ceremony from 1873. The funeral also included a bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace," a bugler who performing "Taps," and the laying of wreaths. Following a musket salute, a folded U.S. flag was presented to Alice Knapp.
According to his 1924 obituary, Peter Knapp enlisted with Company H, 5th Infantry, Iowa Volunteers, in July 1861 and fought in numerous battles, including Iuka, Shiloh and Vicksburg. He was taken prisoner at the battle of Missionary Ridge and sent to Andersonville, where almost 13,000 Union soldiers died.
He married Georgianna Pearson in Muskegon, Mich., in 1870 and moved to Washington state in 1887. He was elected justice of the peace after his retirement from the sawmill business.
Much less is known about his wife.
"The veterans in the world know your wife or your spouse is a companion that really helps you make the adjustment back to the world," Ruth Knapp said. "I'm sure there was more than one night when he woke up screaming, and she would have had to have been there to soothe him. I would think she was a very important reason he was able to keep it together."
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