Annapolis in Anne Arundel County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
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 office 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 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.
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.
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.
Location. 38° 58.599′ N, 76° 30.317′ W. Marker is in Annapolis, Maryland, in Anne Arundel County. Marker can be reached from West Street (Maryland Route 450) west of Taylor Avenue (Maryland Route 435), on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. On the grounds of Annapolis National Cemetery. Marker is at or near this postal address: 800 West Street, Annapolis MD 21401, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Annapolis National Cemetery (here, next to this marker); Address by President Lincoln (here, next to this marker); From The Bivouac of the Dead (here, next to this marker); Annapolis During The Civil War (within shouting distance of this marker); Anne Catharine Green (within shouting distance of this marker); Brown-Leanos Memorial Park (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sharpening Our Governing Teeth: The 1708 Charter of Annapolis (about 300 feet away); George H. Phelps, Jr. (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Annapolis.
Categories. • Cemeteries & Burial Sites • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on March 5, 2018. This page originally submitted on March 2, 2018, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 74 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on March 2, 2018, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.