21 January 2008

Civil War Cemeteries

There are Civil War cemeteries throughout the United States even in California. The following website will provide a nice list of them: Civil War Cemeteries . I visited the Cold Harbor National Cemetery in Mechanicsville, Virginia. It is certainly an all afternoon experience. The first stop is at the history center building which has the walls covered with maps, photos, and explanations of the battle that occurred in the area. It is presented in a very understandable format with recorded explanations along with written descriptions. They also have a very nice selection of books and maps for sale all pertaining to the battles in the area and the Civil War. There is also a federal worker there that can answer questions and they are very interested in the subject. This stop alone is a very informative visit. The history center is next to one of the battlefields where seasonal reenactments occur. Down the road is the cemetery. After learning about the battle and talking with the man working that day, one realizes that finding a specific grave may not exist. The battles in that area were horrific and many soldiers were not identified and buried.
Driving down the road to the cemetery is the next stop. The first picture is what can be seen from the road. At the entrance is a listing in a book of all cemetery graves. This cemetery has 3 or 4 monuments for regiments in the battle. Most every stone has a soldier, his regiment, and rank is listed on the marker. The monuments have a long list of soldiers and near as I can tell, these soldiers are not on the individual graves.
After learning about the battle, driving around the area, and seeing the graves, one can be awestruck with challenges these men faced. First, they walked every where and did not have adequate food and clothing. The area is very harsh. The battles were very intense. Thousands of soldiers participated and died. Although my visit was difficult to accomplish with crutches and a bum leg, it was worth it. These guys deserve a very special remembrance for their sacrifices and I was able to find the grave of the 4-great uncle I was looking for.

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