LHS Team Brings Mount Sinai Cemetery Story to Juneteenth Celebration

The Family & Friends of Mount Sinai Cemetery, a project of the Lovettsville Historical Society, was at the Leesburg Juneteenth celebration on June 19 at Ida Lee Park. Pictured are Claudette Bard, Ed Bard, and Ed Spannaus. We were spreading the word about our campaign to restore the Mount Sinai Cemetery, and looking for more family and descendants of those buried at Mount Sinai..

One of those buried at Mount Sinai, Pvt. Samuel Timbers of the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry USCI), had a direct connection to Juneteenth. His regiment was in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, and, by some accounts, saw that enslaved persons had not been emancipated yet, and urged Gen. Gordon Granger to issue his General Order No. 3, enforcing Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in Texas.

How did Timbers’ regiment get to Galveston? The 29th USCI, previously known as the 29th Illinois Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops, had participated in the Siege of Peterburg, was present at the Fall of Richmond on April 3, 1865, and then was at the Confederate surrender at Appomatox on April 9.

The 29th was part of the XXV Corps of the Union Army, which was sent to Texas to prevent Napoleon III’s puppet government in Mexico from aiding Confederate insurgents in Texas. While sailing from Virginia to Texas, the ships carrying the 3rd Brigade of the Corp’s Second Division, were prevented by  strong winds and high waves from making their scheduled landing at Corpus Christi. They proceeded to Galveston to take on coal and water, arriving on June 18, and going ashore on the 19th. General Granger reported to Gen. Phil Sheridan that when he arrived at Galveston on the morning on June 19, he found the brigade already there, consisting of the 29th and two other regiments of USCI troops.

It is not certain that Private Timbers was with the regiment itself on June 19, since he had been detached from his company to support  the Second Division supply train as a teamster. The Division’s animals and supplies may have been traveling on separate ships to Texas. But it is established that his regiment played a crucial role in what we now celebrate as “Juneteenth.”

For a report on another Loudoun County Juneteenth event at which the role of the U.S. Colored Troops in Galveston was described, go here.

And for more on Private Timbers and why his regiment was in Texas, see “Remembering Private Samuel Timbers.”