• Photo of cannon at Antietam National Battlefield

    The Civil War

Death and Dying

Photo of skeletal remains from the Battle of Gaines’ Mill awaiting burial.

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.

Stories from Death and Dying

Showing results 11-13 of 13

  • Wilson's Creek National Battlefield

    Military Medicine at Wilson's Creek

    Modern photo of Civil War surgeon's amputation kit

    Elongated bullets, lack of equipment, unsterilized instruments, and live gun fire were just some of the issues hindering medical efforts for Civil War field hospitals and surgeons. Many soldiers were wounded in the Civil War but even more perished from disease. Learn about the medicine and medical professionals who served on the front lines. Read more

  • Vicksburg National Military Park

    Vicksburg National Cemetery

    Photo of headstones at Vicksburg National Cemetery

    The Siege of Vicksburg lasted almost two months, and left thousands wounded and killed. To honor the memory of those who lost their lives in the taking of Vicksburg a National Cemetery was constructed. For thousands of men, Vicksburg National Cemetery is their final resting place. Read more

  • Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park

    Walt Whitman at Chatham

    Photo of Walt Whitman

    Walt Whitman, one of America's greatest poets of the 19th century, came to Fredericksburg's Chatham Manor to search for his wounded brother in the aftermath of the Battle of Fredericksburg. The wounded men he encountered changed him profoundly and led him to serve as a nurse for the remainder of the war. Read more