The National Cemetery in Fredericksburg was officially created on February 22, 1867 when Congress passed an “Act to establish and protect national cemeteries.” This act “authorized the Secretary of War to purchase cemetery land, build enclosures, appoint superintendents, construct caretaker lodges, and erect markers over each grave.” This legislative action caught up with what was already happening in the field. What was behind all this?
Before going further, I must acknowledge the work of Don Pfanz, former National Park Service Historian who researched and pulled together information concerning the Fredericksburg National Cemetery. I liberally borrowed ideas and information found in his unpublished manuscript titled Where Valor Proudly Sleeps. Thanks Don.
As far back as September 1861, shortly after the first battle of Manassas, the army directed its commanders to bury their dead. By April 1862, when it was apparent that the ongoing Civil War would be long and hard fought, Congress empowered President Abraham Lincoln, “to purchase cemetery grounds and cause them to be securely enclosed, to be used as a national cemetery for the soldiers who shall die in the service of the country.” This small but significant new presidential power was given in “[A]n act to define the pay and emolument of certain officers of the Army, & for other purposes.” The army then directed its commanding generals to establish cemeteries near battlefields, to mark graves with headboards, and to keep a register of the burials. Continue reading
This is the third in a series on the Fredericksburg National Cemetery. I return to the Anderson sketch of the Union burial trenches used in the previous post. These trenches were created to accommodate the large number of Union dead that remained exposed on the open fields in and around Mercer Square following the Battle of Fredericksburg. Now let’s jump to the ‘big’ trench. I call this one the ‘SWALE Trench’. Based upon the work I did finding the Swale in Mercer Square (click here), and reading participant accounts of the battle, I am convinced the location of this trench was along a portion of the Swale Continue reading
The purpose of this post is to honor the memory of the fallen, and to identify some of the prominent locations of the temporary Union war-time burials, prior to their being gathered into the Fredericksburg National Cemetery on Willis Hill.
During my initial research on the Swale in Mercer Square, I came across references concerning the burial of Union dead. There was a map related to these burials which intrigued me, and it closely matched my Swale findings. I knew that someday I would look further into this part of the history of the battle.
The Anderson Burial Trench map. The Stratton burial trench was located between the Stratton house and his wheelwright shops
You can see that the author of the burial sketch was clearly attempting to convey what he remembered from his time during the battle and at the burials. While the author’s map is Continue reading
Posted in Cemeteries, In the neighborhood
Tagged 126th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment, 27th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment, 53rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment, 5th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry Regiment, 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Battle of Fredericksburg, Burial Trench, Colonel John R. Brooke, Fredericksburg National Cemetery, Marye's Heights, National Cemetery, Sisson's Store, Stratton House, Sunken Road
A year ago, I posted three items concerning the Confederate Cemetery (click here). This year I deal with war casualties and the National Cemetery in Fredericksburg. This is the first of five in this series.
The American Civil War was our first national experience with casualties of war, both civilian and military, on an “Industrial scale”. Overall, the nation’s armies suffered more than 618,000 deaths. Reliable information on military losses is very hard to come by and accurate civilian losses are almost impossible to determine.
How does this tally of death correspond to other wars in which the nation has been involved? In the first graph, we see how all other wars pale with the civil war in comparison. Interestingly, the author of the American War Deaths table records the figure of Civil War deaths to be 618,000. When you add in wounded in action and prisoners of war we see Continue reading
In 1885 S. Millett Thompson, former lieutenant of the 13th New Hampshire (NH) Volunteer Regiment, revisited Fredericksburg and other sites in Virginia that he and the 13th NH marched and fought through during the Civil War. He had last been there during the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13th, 1862. His regiment had been part of General Burnside’s last assault against Marye’s Heights. This assault had been undertaken by five regiments of Colonel Rush C. Hawkins’ 1st Brigade part of Brigadier General George W. Getty’s 3rd Division. Upon Thompson’s return home from this memorable trip to Fredericksburg he began to write a book based upon his wartime diary and letters writing to family members in the late 1870’s. During the writing, he made use of many published Continue reading