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Philadelphia in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

A National Cemetery System

 
 
A National Cemetery System Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 25, 2019
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 office responsible for administering to the need 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
Marker detail: Soldiers' graves near General Hospital,<br>City Point, Va., c. 1863 image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress
2. Marker detail: Soldiers' graves near General Hospital,
City Point, Va., c. 1863
task began. 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 soldiers’ 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.

Reflection and Memorialization
The country reflected upon the Civil War's human toll—2
Marker detail: Knoxville National Cemetery Plan, 1892 image. Click for full size.
National Archives and Records Administration
3. Marker detail: Knoxville National Cemetery Plan, 1892
Knoxville National Cemetery was established after the siege of the city and Battle of Fort Sanders in 1863.
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.

To learn more about benefits and programs for Veterans and families, visit www.va.gov

 
Erected by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the National Cemeteries marker series.
 
Location. 40° 3.518′ N, 75° 9.193′ W. Marker is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Limekiln Pike and Haines Street (69th Avenue). Marker is located within the Philadelphia National Cemetery grounds, on the left-hand side after entering through the main gate. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6909 Limekiln Pike, Philadelphia PA 19138, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least
Marker detail: Lodge at City Point, Va., pre-1928 image. Click for full size.
4. Marker detail: Lodge at City Point, Va., pre-1928
The first floor contained a cemetery office, and living room and kitchen for the superintendent's family; three bedrooms were upstairs.
8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. In The Battle of Germantown (here, next to this marker); Address by President Lincoln (a few steps from this marker); Mexican-American War Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); Philadelphia National Cemetery (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); U.S.C.T. Burials in the National Cemetery (about 500 feet away); Confederate Burials in the National Cemetery (about 800 feet away); Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument (approx. 0.2 miles away); Village of La Mott (approx. ¾ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Philadelphia.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Philadelphia National Cemetery
 
Categories. Cemeteries & Burial SitesPatriots & PatriotismWar, US Civil
 
Marker detail: National Cemetery Monuments image. Click for full size.
5. Marker detail: National Cemetery Monuments
left to right: Massachusetts Monument, Winchester, Va., 1907; Maryland Sons Monument, Loudon Park, Baltimore, Md., 1885; and Women's Relief Corps/Grand Army of the Republic Monument to the Unknown Dead, Crown Hill, Indianapolis, Ind., 1889.
A National Cemetery System Marker<br>(<i>view looking southwest from inside cemetery entrance</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 25, 2019
6. A National Cemetery System Marker
(view looking southwest from inside cemetery entrance)
A National Cemetery System Marker<br>(<i>wide view from just outside cemetery gate</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 25, 2019
7. A National Cemetery System Marker
(wide view from just outside cemetery gate)
 

More. Search the internet for A National Cemetery System.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 19, 2019. This page originally submitted on July 10, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 43 times since then. Photos:   1. submitted on July 10, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on July 17, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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