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Unknown
Burial Locations
for Veterans

 
       In an effort to help the genealogist and historian better understand why they may have a lot of frustration in not being able to find out anything at all about an ancestor that served in a war.

       Veteran burial locations can often be confusing, and a researcher has to be able to have a better understanding the reason for their lack of finding records or other data concerning the whereabouts and other information for their dear departed ancestor's life in the war.

       The information provided here may be of assistance

This Republic of Suffering
("Death and the American Civil War")
 

 
Title - This Republic of Suffering
Sub-Title - Death and the American Civil War
Author - Drew Gilpin Faust
Copyright - 2008
ISBN #: 13:978-0-375-40404-7
Publisher - Alfred A. Knopf

 

 
       The author, Drew Gilpin Faust, is the relatively new president of Harvard University.

  Excerpts  

 
       "Men thrown by the hundreds into burial trenches; soldiers stripped of every identifying object before being abandoned on the field; bloated corpses hurried into hastily dug graves; nameless victims of dysentery or typhoid interred beside military hospitals; men blown to pieces by artillery shells; bodies hidden by woods or ravines, left to the depredations of [animals] or time; the disposition of the Civil War dead made an accurate accounting of the fallen impossible. In the absence of arrangements for interring and recording overwhelming numbers, hundreds of thousands of men--more than 40 percent of deceased Yankees and a far greater proportion of Confederates--perished without names, identified only, as Walt Whitman put it, 'by the significant word UNKNOWN'."

Drew Gilpin Faust goes on to note that,
       "To a twenty-first century American, this seems unimaginable. [But] only with the Korean War did the United States establish a policy of identifying and repatriating the remains of every dead soldier. Only with World War I did soldiers begin to wear official badges of identity [dog tags].... Only with the Civil War did the United States create its system of national cemeteries and officially involve itself with honoring the military dead."

Faust reports that,
       "the dead of the Mexican War received no official attention until 1850, two years after the conflict ended.... 'The U.S. government ' found and reinterred 750 soldiers in an American cemetery in Mexico City. These bodies represented only about 6 percent of the soldiers who had died, and not one body was identified."

 

       The author goes on to say that there were was no provision for official communication with families of deceased soldiers at the start of the American Civil War. There were no graves registration units at the beginning of the conflict. The unprecedented numbers of casualties meant that armies were overwhelmed taking care of the living after a battle. Who was responsible for burying the dead depended on who held the ground after a battle. If one side retreated, the other side tended to care for its own dead first and the other side, if at all, much later. And complicating things even more, postal communication to notify families was poor, particularly in the later years of the Confederacy.

       There were class distinctions as well. Until around the time of the Battle of Gettysburg, deceased officers were treated distinctly different from enlisted soldiers. This began to change with the establishment of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, where all soldiers, regardless of rank, had an equal place of honor in the cemetery.

 

 


2008 Wayne Hinton

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