Civil War - Where They Rest . . .

by Barb Hyde, November, 2011

A-I J-Z (Veterans Index) Medal of Honor Cemeteries

I never could have taken all of these photos.
Many thanks to all of the people who have so graciously, even enthusiastically, allowed me to use their photos.

Note for use: click on links to go directly to more information. Click on any small photo to open a full-size photo.


Andersonville Prison and its National Cemetery
  Photo by mistermullet1952  
Andersonville, in Georgia, was the most notorious Confederate prison camp. If you have never read MacKinlay Kantor's Pulitzer-prize-winning novel, Andersonville (1955), the 150th anniversary of the Civil War might be an appropriate time to do so.

Andersonville, officially known as Camp Sumter, was one of the largest military prisons established by the Confederacy during the Civil War. The prison, which opened in February 1864, was in existence for 14 months. During that time over 45,000 Union soldiers were confined at the prison. The largest number held in the 26½-acre stockade at any one time was more than 32,000, during August of 1864. There was only one water source for the prison: Providence Spring. Almost 13,000 prisoners died from disease, poor sanitation, malnutrition, overcrowding, and exposure to the elements - one death every 11 minutes. Over 40% of all Union prisoners of war who died during the Civil War died at Andersonville.

Alone among the southern prison cemeteries, we have a good record of most of the burials of the soldiers who died at Andersonville. There are only 921 'unknown' graves among the 13,714 Civil War graves in the cemetery. The completeness of the burial records is thanks to the diligence of young Union prisoner, Dorence Atwater, who was in one of the first groups of soldiers sent to Andersonville and who survived until the prison was liberated. He was chosen to record the names and numbers of the dead at Andersonville for the use of the Confederacy after the war ended. Fearing that the list would never survive the war, he secretly made a second, copy which he managed to preserve as he was released and mustered out. His list was published by the New York Tribune when Horace Greeley, the owner, learned that the federal government had refused to acknowledge it and was giving Atwater much grief because of it.

In the autumn of 1864, after the capture of Atlanta, the Confederates feared that General William Tecumseh Sherman would detour from his march to the sea to liberate the prison. All the prisoners at Andersonville who were well enough to be moved were sent to Millen, Georgia, and Florence, South Carolina. After General Sherman began his march to the sea, the prisoners were returned to Andersonville, where conditions were somewhat improved.

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Arlington National Cemetery

Photo by Daniel Meyer
View from Arlington House

Before the outbreak of the Civil War, the great estate of Arlington belonged to Robert E. Lee and his wife, Mary Anna Custis Lee. The land was originally bought by the grandson of Martha Washington who built the house in 1802. It was inherited by his daughter, Mary Anna Custis, and the Lees made it their home.

Ever-mounting deaths among the wounded soldiers sent to Washington hospitals drove the need for a new cemetery. It was considered appropriate to forever deprive the commander of the Confederate forces of his estate and ensure that it would be lost to his family forever by appropriating the land and creating a military cemetery for the Union dead. Accordingly, in 1864, 260 acres were appropriated from the estate, ostensibly through a tax sale.

Today the cemetery encompasses 612 acres and contains more than 300,000 graves.

The first burial at Arlington National Cemetery was that of Private William Henry Christman of Pennsylvania, who lies in Section 27, Lot 19. During and after the Civil War, only soldiers whose families were too poor to have the remains shipped home to rest among loved ones could be buried at Arlington. By 1870, there were over 15,000 soldiers buried at Arlington. Of the total number of Civil War dead in the cemetery, about 4,000 are unknowns.

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 Last Update November 11, 2011

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