Colonel William Mabry Shy robed 114 later
I was attended a wedding party last weekend near Franklin, TN and was surprised to find a most unexpected historical site in the back yard: the previously 1977 vandalized grave of Colonel William Shy, 20th Tennessee Infantry CSA.
I discovered the grave robbery had been finally traced back to a young man from Franklin. According to the current property owner, the culprit had been on a construction team renovating the home. He was never prosecuted, and died years ago in a motor cycle accident.
The publication referenced below is dated from 1985. Sometime later, the artifacts stollen were unanimously turned over to the Carter House Museum, where the coffin had been donated by the family after the incident.
‘THE PILLAGED GRAVE OF A CIVIL WAR HERO’
“Occasionally unusual circumstances arise that call for the excavation of a historic burial. In 1977 the grave of Civil War hero Colonel W.M. Shy was disturbed. Upon examination a body was discovered that was thought to have been a recent murder victim. After a thorough examination, the body was identified as that of Colonel Shy.”
Colonel William M. Shy (1838-1864)
“After the battle, Compton’s (Shy’s) Hill was covered with the dead and wounded from both sides. Among them was Colonel Shy; handsome in life, heroic in death. Dead at the age of 26, a minnie ball in his brain. He had been shot at close range, [his head being powder-burned around the hole made by the shot] (Marshall 1912:522).”
“Vandalism of the Grave The grave of Colonel Shy lay peacefully behind the beautiful antebellum home on Del Rio Pike with little notoriety for over a hundred years. Then, on Christmas Eve of 1977, local police officers were called to investigate a report that the grave had been disturbed.
Upon arriving, the deputies discovered a headless body on top of the casket and thought someone had placed a murdered man in Colonel Shy’s burial plot. Local authorities could not match the headless corpse with any of their missing persons reports. Wild theories abounded, some even speculated that the head might have been removed to hamper identification of the body.
Dr. William M. Bass, Forensic Anthropologist and Head of the Anthropology Department, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, was called in to aid with the removal and identification of this unknown body. If one had followed the story in the newspapers it would have read much like a condensed version of a Damon Runyon murder mystery.”
– excerpts from ‘THE PILLAGED GRAVE OF A CIVIL WAR HERO’ Col.-Shy-Grave-Robing.pdf
See a 360 degree panorama of Col. Shy’s grave. The tour has a link to Shy’s Hill in Nashville.
NOTE: this grave is on private property