Death and Dying
The somber aftermath of Civil War battles introduced Americans to death on an unprecedented scale. Neither individuals, nor institutions, nor governments were prepared to deal with such devastating loss of human life, for never before or since have we killed so many of our own.
The Civil War revolutionized the American military's approach to caring for the dead, leading to our modern culture of reverence for military death, including the National Cemetery system.
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Manassas National Battlefield Park
Like many soldiers on the eve of the first major battle of the Civil War, Sullivan Ballou feared he might not survive the conflict. The letter he wrote to his wife, expressing his anxiety, remains on the the most famous, and poignent, written during the war. Read more
Petersburg National Battlefield
After the Battle of Petersburg the dead were buried in shallow graves, most without grave markers. One year after the war ends a National Cemetery was established so that those Union soldiers who fell in the battle may be properly honored. Read more
Antietam National Battlefield
Following the Battle of Antietam in 1862, there were few cemeteries to inter the dead. Shallow graves were dug to quickly bury the remains of the battle, yet a permanent solution was needed. The result was Antietam National Cemetery, the final resting place for United States troops that had fallen during the Maryland Campaign. Read more