Elmira in Chemung County, New York — 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
In 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 our 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. Cemetery
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 of 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 honorable 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 County 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
Erected by National Cemetery Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Location. 42° 6.656′ N, 76° 49.6′ W. Marker is in Elmira, New York, in Chemung County. Marker is on Davis Street. Touch for map. Marker is located near the cemetery office entrance (the old superintendents's lodge). Marker is at or near this postal address: 1200 Walnut Street, Elmira NY 14905, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Woodlawn National Cemetery (here, next to this marker); Confederate Burials in the National Cemetery (within shouting distance of this marker); Shohola Railroad Accident Memorial (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Confederate Burials (about 300 feet away); Address by President Lincoln (about 300 feet away); Confederate Soldiers Memorial (about 500 feet away); John W. Jones Museum (approx. ¼ mile away); Augustus W. Cowles (approx. 0.3 miles away); Mark Twain (approx. 0.3 miles away); Veterans of All Wars (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Elmira.
Also see . . .
1. National Cemetery Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (Submitted on October 31, 2015, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
2. History and Development of the National Cemetery Administration. National cemeteries were first developed in the United States during the Civil War. On July 17, 1862, Congress empowered President Abraham Lincoln, “to purchase cemetery grounds and cause them to be securely enclosed, to be used as a national cemetery for the soldiers who shall die in the service of the country.” This was the first U.S. legislation to state and solidify the concept of a national cemetery. (Submitted on October 31, 2015, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
Categories. • Cemeteries & Burial Sites • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 31, 2015, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 166 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. submitted on October 31, 2015, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.