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Florence in Florence County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

A National Cemetery System

 
 
A National Cemetery System Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross, May 2, 2020
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
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ended, a grim 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.

(sidebar)
Reflection and Memorialization
The country reflected
Marker detail: Soldiers’ graves near General Hospital, City Point, Va., c. 1863 (Library of Congress image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross
2. Marker detail: Soldiers’ graves near General Hospital, City Point, Va., c. 1863 (Library of Congress
upon the Civil War's 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 Veteran 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 July 17, 1862.
 
Location. 34° 11.053′ N, 79° 45.205′ W. Marker is in Florence, South Carolina, in Florence County. Marker can be reached from East National Cemetery Road (State Road S-21-13) 0.1 miles west of Stockade Drive, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 803 East National Cemetery Road, Florence SC 29506, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking
Marker detail: Knoxville National Cemetery Plan, 1982. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross
3. Marker detail: Knoxville National Cemetery Plan, 1982.
Knoxville [National Cemetery] was established after the siege of the city and Battle of Fort Sanders in 1863. National Archives and Records Administration
distance of this marker. Florence National Cemetery (here, next to this marker); Carillon (a few steps from this marker); Civil War Union Burials (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named A National Cemetery System (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Dahlgren, IX-inch (about 700 feet away); Brooke Rifled Cannon, VII-inch (about 700 feet away); Guns of the CSS Peedee (about 800 feet away); Brooke Rifled Cannon, VI.4-inch (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Florence.
 
Regarding A National Cemetery System. The Florence National Cemetery is composed of two properties. The oldest portion is the original 1865 property, which was expanded by two acres in 1942. A new 19-acre area southeast of the older cemetery was established in 1984.
 
Marker detail: Lodge at City Point, Va., pre-1928 image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross
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.
Marker detail: National Cemetery Monuments image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross
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 shown from a distance. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross, May 2, 2020
6. A National Cemetery System Marker shown from a distance.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on May 6, 2020. It was originally submitted on May 5, 2020, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. This page has been viewed 243 times since then and 45 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on May 5, 2020, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Jul. 17, 2024