“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Zachary in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana — The American South (West South Central)

A National Cemetery System

A National Cemetery System Marker image. Click for full size.
March 25, 2016
1. A National Cemetery System Marker
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 needs of troops in life and 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 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.
A National Cemetery System Marker image. Click for full size.
March 25, 2016
2. A National Cemetery System Marker
Click or scan to see
this page online
In October 1865, Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Megis 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 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
Port Hudson main cemetery gate and walkway image. Click for full size.
March 25, 2016
3. Port Hudson main cemetery gate and walkway
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 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 Was monuments peaked in the 1890's. By 1920, as the number of aging veterans was dwindling, more than 120 monuments had been placed in 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.
Location. 30° 39.657′ N, 91° 16.551′ W. Marker is in Zachary, Louisiana, in East Baton Rouge Parish. Marker can be reached from Port Hickey Road (State Highway 3113) 1.9 miles west of Samuels Road (U.S. 61), on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 20978 Port Hickey Road, Zachary LA 70791, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Medal of Honor Tree (about 300 feet away, measured in
Port Hudson National Cemetery image. Click for full size.
March 25, 2016
4. Port Hudson National Cemetery
a direct line); Port Hudson National Cemetery (about 400 feet away); Heroes Of The War On Terrorism (about 700 feet away); Purple Heart Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); Commissary Hill (approx. 1.8 miles away); Lower Commissary Hill Battery (approx. 1.8 miles away); Steedman Headquarters (approx. 1.8 miles away); Subterranean Torpedoes (approx. 1.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Zachary.
Also see . . .  Port Hudson National Cemetery. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs/National Cemetery Administration entry (Submitted on March 28, 2016.) 
Port Hudson Cemetery NRHP marker image. Click for full size.
March 25, 2016
5. Port Hudson Cemetery NRHP marker
This National Cemetery
has been listed in
The National Register
Historic Places

by the
United States Department of the Interior
Credits. This page was last revised on February 1, 2021. It was originally submitted on March 26, 2016. This page has been viewed 351 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on March 26, 2016. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 2, 2023