Excellent post. When the Union Army reoccupied the
Manassas area, they investigated the desecration of Sullivan Ballou's remains. In her book, Robin Young provides excerpts from residents who lived in the neighborhood of Sudly Church. They were disgusted by the sacrilege and assured union authorites that the dirty deed was done by Georgians. Virginia men would not do such a thing.
Displaying skulls and bones, making finger rings and other bits of jewelry from the skeletal remains of enemies was a common Celtic practice. Was the collecting of bones ghoulish souvenir hunting, or a cultural characteristic? The dichotomy of who approved such practices and who did not might be as simple as who was of Scotch-Irish descent and who wasn't.
I personally know several WWII veterans who brought home Japanese skulls, including an uncle. This practice was so wide spread, the Japanese government advertised in American veteran magazines for their return. I doubt if any high ranking American officer in WWII condoned such practices, but it happened anyway.
Regards, R. Cofer