Civil War Photo Contest
Featured Book Reviewer
- Feb 23, 2013
- East Texas
United States National Cemeteries were created by Act of Congress following the Civil War as places to gather Federal dead from various often hasty camp and battlefield graves. Usually they were in a location central or adjacent to major battlefields, encampments, or towns; usually the fallen from nearby smaller actions or locations were brought for final interment to the National Cemeteries. I visited several recently, those shown in the accompanying photos.
Murfreesboro National Cemetery lies at the very heart of the Stones River Battlefield. It was developed postwar near the wartime Hazen Monument between the railroad and the Nashville Pike with most of the work digging graves and interring the remains done by members of the 111th U.S.C.T. beginning in 1865. The Napoleon standing guard above indicates the position of a Union battery during the battle, while the monument below is dedicated to the over 6,000 Union dead, 2,500 of them unknown.
The National Cemetery in Chattanooga was created on high ground siezed from the Confederates Nov. 23, 1863, in the opening phase of the Battle of Chattanooga by members of Thomas' Army of the Cumberland. Like most, it assumes a tranquil if motonous character, interspersed with a few state monuments like that above to the units in the battle. The most famous section, however, is the small plot below which contains an Ohio monument and the semicircle of graves of James J. Andrews ( in left foreground ) and those of his men who were hanged for their part in the Great Locomotive Chase.
The Marietta National Cemetery contains the remains of soldiers killed at nearby Kennesaw Mountain and other battles of Sherman's Atlanta Campaign. Said to have over 10,000 burials, it's hard to tell just how many of them are of Civil war vintage, due to the regrettable habit of continuing burials as long as space permits, filling the once-open gaps, borders, and margins between Civil War-era sections with those of veterans of all wars since and even their spouses.
There are a few state monuments here too, though there was no fighting at this location; one of the most striking is this one, featuring Wisconsin's badger state mascot. Other structures in National Cemeteries usually include a bandstand or speakers' platform like that below and also shown at the top of this page. Decoration and Memorial Day commemorations were early on an important part of activities at places like this for survivors and their families of both sides of the conflict in the postwar years.