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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Knoxville in Knox County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
 

A National Cemetery System

 
 
A National Cemetery System Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse, December 16, 2016
1. A National Cemetery System Marker
Inscription.  Civil War Dead
An estimated 700,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died in the Civil War between April 1861 and April 1865. As the death toll rose, the U.S. government struggled with the urgent but unplanned need to bury fallen Union troops. This propelled the creation of a national cemetery system.
On September 11, 1861, the War Department directed commanding officers to keep "accurate and permanent records of deceased soldiers." It also required the U.S. Army Quartermaster General, the officer responsible for administering to the needs of troops in life and in death, to mark each grave with a headboard. A few months later, the department mandated interment of the dead in graves marked with numbered headboards, recorded in a register.

Creating National Cemeteries
The authority to create military burial grounds came in an Omnibus Act of July 17, 1862. It directed the president to purchase land to be used as "a national cemetery for the soldiers who shall die in the service of the country." Fourteen national cemeteries were established by 1862.

When hostilities ended, a grim task began.
Union Soldiers Monument image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse, December 15, 2016
2. Union Soldiers Monument
Click or scan to see
this page online
In October 1865, Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs directed officers to survey lands in the Civil War theater to find Union dead and plan to reinter them in new national cemeteries. Cemetery sites were chosen where troops were concentrated: camps, hospitals, battlefields, railroad hubs. By 1872, 74 national cemeteries and several solders' lots contained 305,492 remains, about 45 percent were unknown.

Most cemeteries were less than 10 acres, and layouts varied. In the Act to Establish and to Protect National Cemeteries of February 22, 1867, Congress funded new permanent walls or fences, grave markers, and lodges for cemetery superintendents.

At first only soldiers and sailors who died during the Civil War were buried in national cemeteries. In 1873, eligibility was expanded to all honorably discharged Union veterans, and Congress appropriated $1 million to mark the graves. Upright marble headstones honor individuals whose names were known; 6-inch square blocks mark unknowns.

By 1873, military post cemeteries on the Western frontier joined the national cemetery system. The National Cemeteries Act of 1973 transferred 82 Army cemeteries, including 12 of the original 14, to what is now the National Cemetery Administration.

(sidebar)
Reflection and Memorialization
The country reflected upon the Civil War's
A National Cemetery System Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse, December 15, 2016
3. A National Cemetery System Marker
human toll - 2 percent of the U.S. population died. Memorials honoring war service were built in national cemeteries. Most were donated by regimental units, state governments and veterans' organizations such as the Grand Army of the Republic. Decoration Day, later Memorial Day, was a popular patriotic spring event that started in 1868. Visitors placed flowers on graves and monuments, and gathered around rostrums to hear speeches. Construction of Civil War monuments peaked in the 1890s. By 1920, as the number of aging veterans was dwindling, more than 120 monuments had been placed in the national cemeteries.
 
Erected by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs - National Cemetery Administration.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Cemeteries & Burial SitesWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the National Cemeteries series list. A significant historical date for this entry is February 22, 1867.
 
Location. 35° 58.583′ N, 83° 55.617′ W. Marker is in Knoxville, Tennessee, in Knox County. Marker can be reached from Tyson Street south of Bernard Avenue, on the right when traveling south. Marker is located at the north corner within the Knoxville National Cemetery. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 939 Tyson Street, Knoxville TN 37917, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Knoxville National Cemetery (here, next to
Knoxville National Cemetery Entrance image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse, December 15, 2016
4. Knoxville National Cemetery Entrance
this marker); Address by President Lincoln (a few steps from this marker); Old Gray Cemetery (approx. ¼ mile away); a different marker also named Old Gray Cemetery (approx. ¼ mile away); Charlie Oaks (approx. half a mile away); The Southern Railway Station (approx. 0.6 miles away); Patrick Sullivan's Saloon (approx. 0.6 miles away); Hubris Building (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Knoxville.
 
Also see . . .  National Cemetery Administration - Knoxville National Cemetery. (Submitted on December 18, 2016, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee.)
 
The National Register of Historic Places Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse, December 15, 2016
5. The National Register of Historic Places Marker
The Bivouac of the Dead image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse, December 15, 2016
6. The Bivouac of the Dead
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 17, 2017. It was originally submitted on December 18, 2016, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 405 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on December 18, 2016, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee.   5, 6. submitted on January 14, 2017, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 13, 2021