Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Civil War Burials

The bodies of the dead presented more complications for the Civil War armies. Burial could depend on when and where a person died in battle. Sometimes temporary truces were called so that both sides could retrieve their dead and wounded from the field.
There was no standardized identification system during the Civil War. Precursors to modern “dog tags” were metal discs that could be engraved with a name. These discs were sometimes sold to the troops by private sutlers, or vendors.

At the Battle of Cold Harbor, many Union soldiers wrote their names on pieces of paper and pinned them to their uniforms, but tens of thousands of soldiers throughout the war were buried as “unknowns”. Often, soldiers were buried where they fell.

On the battlefield, the troops recovered the bodies; in the Division hospitals, the Surgeon-in-Charge arranged for burial.

A regiment usually had a burial ground for its own dead near its camp. If the body of a soldier was sent for by his family, it could be disinterred and shipped as long as the regiment remained in that camp. These graves were mostly unmarked, and if a regiment moved, the location of its dead was likely to be lost.


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