Chattanooga in Hamilton County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
A National Cemetery System
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. In October
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 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. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Cemeteries & Burial Sites • War, US Civil.
Location. 35° 2.237′ N, 85° 17.205′ W. Marker is in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in Hamilton County. Marker is on National Avenue, on the left when traveling north. Across from cemetery offices. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 512 National Ave, Chattanooga TN 37404, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Chattanooga National Cemetery (a few steps from this marker); 84th Infantry Division (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line); Women of World War II (approx. 0.2 miles away); In Honor of Korean War Veterans (approx. 0.2 miles away); Viet Nam Veterans Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); 29th Infantry Division (approx. 0.2 miles away); In Honor of the Chosin Few Combatants of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir (approx. 0.2 miles away); Memorial Circle of Honor (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chattanooga.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 5, 2022. It was originally submitted on March 28, 2022, by Darren Jefferson Clay of Duluth, Georgia. This page has been viewed 80 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on March 28, 2022, by Darren Jefferson Clay of Duluth, Georgia. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.