Reconciliation, Commemoration, and Preservation
In the wake of the bloodiest, most destructive war of the century, the North and South sought political and cultural reconciliation. Soldiers on both sides sought to reconcile with former enemies by recognizing and commemorating their shared sacrifice. The Reconstruction-era goal of equality for Americans of color was largely abandoned by white Americans.
The varied efforts at commemoration and preservation by succeeding generations illustrate society's evolving values and views on the Civil War.
Stories from Reconciliation, Commemoration, and Preservation
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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
The Civil War culminated eighty years of sectional tensions - tensions begot at various times and places by debate over economic policies and practices, cultural values, the extent and reach of the Federal government, but, most importantly, the role of slavery within an American society striving for identity and economic strength on the world stage. Read more
The somber aftermath of Civil War battles introduced Americans--North and South--to death on an unprecedented scale and of an unnatural kind, often ending in an unmarked grave far from home. Neither individuals, nor institutions, nor governments were prepared to deal with death on such a massive scale, 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. Read more
From the design of the memorial to the artwork and sculpture displayed within its wall, the Lincoln Memorial reveals America's esteem for Abraham Lincoln and its grief at this premature death. Read more