Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Top 10 Civil War Cemeteries

1.  Gettysburg National Cemetery is the final resting place of over 3,500 Union soldiers from the civil war, casualties of the Battle of Gettysburg. President Abraham Lincoln attended the Consecration of the Soldiers National Cemetery on November 19, 1863.  Today is the 150th Anniversary of his famous speech the Gettysburg Address. You can watch a livestream.  The time 10am-11:30am. You can also reach the link through gettysburgfoundation website.

2. Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia was established as a military burial ground in 1864 on the grounds of the home of General Robert E. Lee and his wife.  She was a descendant of Martha Washington, the wife of our first president, George Washington.  The property was put up for public sale after the taxes were not paid in person.  Mrs. Lee had relocated during the war and did not return to pay her taxes.  General Meigs oversaw operations and it was his intention to make the property uninhabitable should the Lee family ever choose to return. Meigs created a deep rooted connection to the land and the war.  He built a burial vault in the rose garden and buried the remains of 1,800 Union casualties of the Battle of Bull Run. Arlington is not the largest national military cemetery in our country. I was surprised to find that out, but it is the most visited. It is a must visit for various notable graves located there but its origin is a compelling and stinging tale. Calverton National Cemetery established in 1978 located on Long Island in New York is the largest with 1.45 acres. Arlington National Cemetery is 624 acres.  it is hard to imagine a cemetery larger than Arlington.

3. City Point National Cemetery, Hopewell, Virginia The cemetery was established to reinter soldiers who were buried in the seven nearby hospital cemeteries and those from makeshift battlefield plots throughout the area. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

 Army of the James Monument was erected n 1865, City Point National Cemetery

4. Cold Harbor National Cemetery was established 1866 in Mechanicsville, Hanover County, Virginia on the site of the Battle of Cold Harbor.  Bodies were collected from a 22 mile radius. It was designed by Montgomery C. Meigs. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

Monument to the Unknowns erected in 1877 erected by the federal government to commemorate 889 unknown Union soldiers buried in the back trenches of the cemetery.

The Pennsylvania Monument was erected in 1909 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The 8th New York Heavy Artillery Monument was erected in 1909 by the state of New York.

5.  Philadelphia National Cemetery is located in Philadelphia just north of Germantown. It was established as a cemetery in 1862 and became one of the first 14 national cemeteries. National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

1911 Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument

6. Finn's Point National Cemetery is located in Pennsville, New Jersey and has the remains of soldiers from both sides of the Civil War who died while imprisoned at Fort Delaware across the river. National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Confederate Monument was erected in 1910 by the U.S. government to memorialize the Confederate soldiers that are buried here.

Union Monument was erected in 1879 in memory of the 135 Union guards who died on duty at 
Fort Delaware.

Fort Delaware view from the New Jersey side of the Delaware River was a prisoner of war facility during the Civil War.

7. Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia is not a National Cemetery but I believe it houses the remains of more Confederate soldiers than any other cemetery in the south.  Jefferson Davis, George Pickett and J. E. B. Stuart are among the Confederates buried here. Two former Presidents of the United States are also buried here, James Monroe 5th and John Tyler 10th President of the United States. Hollywood Cemetery was designed in 1847 by the noted architect, John Notman of Philadelphia.  It was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1969.

Confederate Monument Pyramid

Jefferson Davis

George Pickett

J. E. B. Stuart

8. Mount Moriah Cemetery is located in southwest Philadelphia and partly in Yeadon, Delaware County.  It is an enormous cemetery that has at least two sections for the military. Almost immediately upon entering the cemetery we were approached by a pick up truck asking if we could be helped. At first, I almost felt like we were trespassing on private property.  I told him we were looking for civil war veterans that I had read about being buried there.  He lead us on a overgrown path with potholes and took us directly to it.  He also mention the other military section and how to get there and he gave us a brief synopsis of the state of the cemetery and why it looked in such disrepair.  To accurately get that complete story I recommended Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery.  Things have improved by their volunteer efforts but there is a lot of work to be done there. Wikipedia says it is 380 acres and is the largest cemetery in Pennsylvania. The Friends of Mount Moriah mention about 200 acres according to real estate records. It was incorporated in 1855.


9. Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was founded in 1836.  It is not a National Cemetery but it is listed in National Register of Historic Places (1977) and listed as a National Historic Landmark (1998).  It contains the remains of several casualties of war and soldiers from both sides of the civil war conflict between the north and south, General George Meade is buried there along with 39 other civil war era generals. It is also a who's who of prominent Philadelphia names, legendary sports announcer Harry Kallas is buried there with a microphone as a tombstone marker. Confederate General Pemberton  was born in Philadelphia but married into a Virginia family.  He decided to go South. He is buried at Laurel Hill and there was quite an uproar from other war hero families when they wanted to bury him there. I haven't found him yet. Laurel Hill has events going on all the time, upcoming is a walk Laurel Hill's Legendary Civil War Ladies on Saturday November 23rd.

10. Chester Rural Cemetery in Chester is not a national cemetery but the first interments were soldiers from the civil war, I am told.  The deceased soldiers came from the U.S. Government Hospital across the street.  I thought I read it somewhere and if I find it again I will link it, many of these patients died of measles and some were prisoners from nearby Fort Delaware. I did find a link that speaks about the Confederate soldiers and if you find the list of names of folks buried in Chester Rural (I saw the list from a link at oldchesterpa.com) next to some of the names you will see RM that means removed.

Soldiers Circle at Chester Rural Cemetery contains the remains of several veterans.  The outer circle are those that fought in the civil war.

U.S. Government Hospital in Chester, PA later to be known as Crozer Theological Seminary a school attended by Martin Luther King.

 I was told there were several "Confederate soldiers" that were buried in Chester Rural at one time and their bodies had been moved to a cemetery in Virginia.  I went on the hunt for these men. Since I had recently been to Hollywood Cemetery in Virginia, I wondered if there was a connection.

I went to the Hollywood website and sent an email of my inquiry.  A woman from the office replied within a few hours and said she has no record of that but my question intrigued her and she would get an answer for me. A day later, I received another reply, this one also had attached information from the local historian.  His reply,

They are talking about the Gettysburg Dead that died as POW's in Chester, PA.

The men were not returned to VA. The Dabney Maury UDC Chapter wanted to place a memorial to their memory and were rejected and the monument is in Hollywood. Somehow that's been twisted over the years to include removal of the men.

 I believe the Gettysburg Dead stone pictured under Hollywood Cemetery may be the tribute to these men in the south. That is my conclusion of the information, I received.

So, I was now intrigued, there is a list of people buried by section in Chester Rural at oldchesterpa.com search "cemeteries" and you will find it.  There is a RM section, it is for the bodies that have been removed.  I have not done a comparison but I kept googling Confederates buried in Chester Rural.  There are some interesting stories in forums through ancestry etc. but what I found as a clue was that soldiers were moved to Philadelphia National Cemetery and last Memorial Day weekend I went and there they were. During my search, I also came across Mount Moriah Cemetery as a location where civil war causalities were buried and that opened up a history all its own, to accurately keep up with that story go to Friends of Mount Moriah.

Cemeteries certainly hold a lot of history and have many stories to tell. This is only a list of 10.

Facts Sheet about National Cemeteries can be found at the Department of Veterans Affairs website.  The first 14 national cemeteries were established in 1862.


  1. War is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

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