Soldiers' National Cemetery (Gettysburg)
To properly bury the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg, a "Soldiers Cemetery" was established on the battleground near the center of the Union line. Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin supported the proposal with state funds to purchase the cemetery grounds and pay for the re-interment of Union dead from inadequate grave sites that covered the battlefield. It was here during the dedication ceremony on November 19, 1863, that President Abraham Lincoln spoke of "these honored dead..." and renewed the Union cause to reunite the war-torn nation with his most famous speech, the "Gettysburg Address".
- Battlefield: Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
- Location: 97 Taneytown Rd on Cemetery Hill
- Map Coordinates: +39° 49' 11.28", -77° 13' 52.32"
- Built: Groundbreaking: 1863; Completed: 1872
- Number of Burials: 3,512 Union soldiers, over 6,000 total
- Current Owner: National Park Service
- Admission: Cemetery grounds open to the public from dawn to dusk
History of the Soldiers' National Cemetery
Shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg, with the support of Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin, the site was purchased and Union dead were moved from shallow and inadequate burial sites on the battlefield to the cemetery. Local attorney David Wills was the man primarily responsible for acquiring the land, overseeing the construction of the cemetery, and planning its dedication ceremony, although the initial concept and early organizational efforts were led by rival lawyer David McConaughy. The landscape architect William Saunders, founder of the National Grange, designed the cemetery.
Saunders's design had two facets: first, the Soldiers' National Monument was placed at the center, promoting the Union victory and the valor of the fallen soldiers; second, the graves were arranged in a series of semicircles around the monument, emphasizing the fundamental egalitarian nature of U.S. society, with all the graves considered equal. The original plan was to arrange the plots in essentially random order, but resistance from the states caused this to be modified and the graves are grouped by state, with two sections for unknowns and one section for the regular army.
There are numerous other monuments in the cemetery, including the New York Monument, the first statue to Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds, and the monument to Lincoln's address.
The cemetery was dedicated on November 19, 1863. The main speaker at the ceremony was Edward Everett, but it was here that Abraham Lincoln delivered his most famous speech, the Gettysburg Address. The night before, Lincoln slept in Wills's house on the main square in Gettysburg, which is now a landmark administered by the National Park Service.
The cemetery was completed in March 1864 when the last of 3,512 Union dead were reburied. It became a National Cemetery on May 1, 1872, when control was transferred to the War Department. In 1933 responsibility of the cemetery was transferred from the War Department to the National Park Service.
Today, the Gettysburg National Cemetery is the final resting place for American veterans from all of this country's major wars and conflicts. It is closed to new burials.
Union Soldier Burials
The pages linked below contain a roll of soldiers buried at the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg according to a report from 1865. It is a listing of soldiers by state. Some of the dead are listed with items found with them. Others are listed with identifying features. It's possible that some of these soldiers may have since been identified and/or moved. Some are marked removed as it occurred before the report was written.
Listed by Section and State
- Unknown -- 143 soldiers
- Illinois -- 6 soldiers
- West Virginia -- 11 soldiers
- Delaware -- 15 soldiers
- Rhode Island -- 12 soldiers
- New Hampshire -- 49 soldiers
- Vermont -- 61 soldiers
- New Jersey -- 78 soldiers
- Wisconsin -- 73 soldiers
- Connecticut -- 22 soldiers
- Minnesota -- 52 soldiers
- Maryland -- 22 soldiers
- US Regulars -- 138 soldiers
- Unknown -- 411 soldiers
- Maine -- 104 soldiers
- Michigan -- 171 soldiers
- New York -- 866 soldiers
- Pennsylvania -- 526 soldiers
- Massachusetts -- 159 soldiers
- Ohio -- 131 soldiers
- Indiana -- 80 soldiers
- Unknown -- 425 soldiers
- Total -- 3555
Abraham Lincoln at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery, Mathew Brady, LOC, November 19, 1863
- NPS Information Page: http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/national_cemeteries/Pennsylvania/Gettysburg_National_Cemetery.html
According to the Gettysburg National Military Park website, "Though the Union dead had been taken care of, the Confederate dead still remained in scattered field burials and hospital sites, including the temporary cemetery where Camp Letterman had been. Concerned with providing their native sons with a proper burial, ladies' memorial societies in several southern states secured state monies and donations to have the Southern dead relocated to their home states. The first re-internment of Confederate dead began in 1872, once again performed by Samuel Weaver who had been in charge of the re-internments in the Gettysburg national cemetery. Carefully boxed and labeled, the remains were shipped by rail to cemeteries in Savannah, Charleston, and Raleigh. When the state organizations from Georgia, North and South Carolina had completed their task, a co-operative effort by a similar organization (took place) in Virginia. The remaining bodies were to be shipped to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, where a special section was set aside specifically for this purpose. The boxes of remains, some containing as many as five in each, were set side by side in the designated plot as they arrived. The last of these reburials was completed by 1877."
Data from Revised Report of the Select Committee Relative to the Soldiers' National Cemetery Together With Accompanying Documents as Reported to the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, Singerly & Myers, State Printers, 1865.