Lexington in Fayette County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)
Lexington National Cemetery
In 1847, Abraham Lincoln traveled to Lexington to visit his wife's family. It was a small county seat but regional economic and cultural center. When the Civil War began in 1861, the railroads that linked Lexington with Cincinnati, Ohio, and Louisville, Kentucky, made the city a strategic transportation hub.
The Union Army maintained a supply depot and hospitals in Lexington. After the Union defeat at the Battle of Richmond (Kentucky) on August 30, 1862, Lexington was captured and briefly occupied by Confederate troops.
As a result of a raid by Confederate Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan in 1863, Union authorities built a series of fortifications in central Kentucky, including Fort Clay in Lexington. The fort's artillery fired on General Morgan's cavalry when they again raided the city for supplies in June 1864. This was the last time Confederate forces threatened Lexington.
“Harvest of Death”
Early in 1866, Capt. E. B. Whitman began gathering information in preparation for the reinterment of Union soldiers buried in the Military Division of Tennessee. This huge district included
Captain Whitman, later lieutenant colonel, placed newspaper notices seeking locations of Union graves. Citizens, chaplains, soldiers, and officers replied. Whitman made three major expeditions across the region, stopping at hundreds of battlefields and engagement sites. Because of his work, thousands of Union dead were moved to twelve new national cemeteries.
In May 1869, Whitman submitted a detailed summary of this difficult project to the quartermaster general. The report contained sketches and site plans of each cemetery, and data on interments and service affiliations.
Prior to 1869, ten federally established or public cemeteries in Kentucky contained the remains of Union soldiers. The work of reinterring the dead was almost complete when the army changed is plan and reduced the number of cemeteries to six.
Union soldiers who died in Lexington's army hospitals during the war were buried in the City Cemetery. Dead from battlefields at Mount Sterling and Cynthiana, and blockhouses and fortifications along the Kentucky Central Railroad, were also interred here. The 0.75-acre lot became Lexington National Cemetery in 1868. By 1874 contained 929 burials, including 105 unknowns.
White marble posts inscribed with ‘U.S.’ mark the national cemetery boundary.
Captions (left to right)
• Barracks and Fort Clay, c. 1865. National Archives and Records Administration
• Soldiers' Lot in Lexington City Cemetery, from Brvt. Lt. Col. E.B. Whitman's final report, c. 1869. Whitman used the phrase “Harvest of Death” in his exhaustive report to describe the work of collecting the dead. National Archives and Records Administration
• Drawing of cemetery boundary markers, 1870s. National Archives and Records Administration
• Undated postcard of Lexington National Cemetery. Postcard Collection, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center
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. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1869.
Location. 38° 3.484′ N, 84° 30.655′ W. Marker is in Lexington, Kentucky, in Fayette County. Marker can be reached from West Main Street (U.S. 421) west of Oliver Lewis Way/Newtown Pike, on the right when traveling west. Marker is in the national cemetery section of Lexington Cemetery. To reach it from the cemetery entrance, take the first two lefts, then follow the road. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 833 W Main St, Lexington KY 40508, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A National Cemetery System (a few steps from this marker); Address by President Lincoln (within shouting distance of this marker); Confederate Soldiers Monument (approx. 0.2 miles away); 1787-1987 Bicentennial Tree (approx. 0.2 miles away); Henry Clay (approx. 0.2 miles away); Lexington Cemetery (approx. 0.2 miles away); Ladies' Confederate Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); Lexington Historic Distillery District (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lexington.
Also see . . .
1. Lexington National Cemetery. In 1861, Amos Barr of the 14th Union Infantry became the first person to be buried in what would later become the Lexington National Cemetery. (Victoria Endres, Clio: Your Guide to History, posted Sept. 27, 2020) (Submitted on July 29, 2022, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.)
2. Timeline 1861. Beginning of timeline of the national cemetery system. (National Cemetery Administration) (Submitted on July 29, 2022.)
Credits. This page was last revised on July 29, 2022. It was originally submitted on July 29, 2022, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 104 times since then and 52 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 29, 2022, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.