Union soldier figure atop monument at Baxter Springs National Cemetery; Bivouac of the Dead plaque at Wood National Cemetery; Flagpole and graves at Togus National Cemetery
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Civil War Era National Cemeteries: Honoring Those Who Served

Bath National Cemetery

Bath, New York

Bath National Cemetery
Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument
Photo by Jet Lowe, Historic American Engineering Record Photographer
Bath National Cemetery dates to 1877 when it was established as the final resting place for veterans who died while living at the Grand Army of the Republic Soldiers' and Sailors' Home in Bath, New York.  The facility was transferred to the state in April 1878 and renamed New York State Soldiers and Sailors Home. In the late 1920s, the state transferred this facility to the U.S. government, and the home became the Bath Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. Erected in 1892, a grand granite obelisk stands watch over the graves and honors those who fought for the Union during the Civil War.

Following the Civil War, thousands of volunteer soldiers were left with injuries and disabilities. Some required long-term care that was often more than families could provide.  In 1872, the state of New York passed legislation to construct a home for these soldiers. The legislation provided funding, and the Grand Army of the Republic, a Union veterans association, raised $100,000 for the home’s construction and operation.  Work began in June 1877, and the New York State Soldiers' and Sailors' Home opened on Christmas Day 1878.

In 1879, a cemetery was established for those who died while living at the home.  The cemetery is located northwest of the home’s parade ground.  A cemetery office and maintenance building was constructed in 1887 at the cemetery’s entrance on San Juan Avenue. The small, one-story building features simplified Victorian details, including arched windows and a hipped roof with finials and exposed rafter ends. A contemporary addition mimics the original building’s asymmetry.

On July 18, 1894, a dedication ceremony was held to unveil a grand monument on the cemetery’s grounds. Several years earlier, Brooklyn businessman Samuel Dietz bequeathed $15,000 to the home, and the home’s leaders decided to use the gift to build a memorial at the cemetery.  Several thousand people attended the ceremony, which included a parade, speeches, and a gun salute.  The obelisk is constructed of light Barre granite and rises 40 feet from its foundation. A bronze plaque at the monument’s base bears the inscription: “In memory of the soldiers and sailors of the war for the preservation of the Union who died in the New York State Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home.”

Bath National Cemetery
Flagpole with surrounding gravestones
Photo by Jet Lowe, Historic American Engineering Record Photographer
In 1929, the state transferred the home to the U.S. government to operate as the Bath Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.  The cemetery operated as the Bath Veterans Administration Medical Center cemetery until 1973, when it was officially declared a national cemetery.

Notable burials in the Bath National Cemetery include U.S. Army Private Robert Knox Sneden.  Sneden was an artist whose paintings and drawings of Civil War battles are on display at the Virginia Historical Society.  Bath National Cemetery is also the final resting place for Medal of Honor recipients, the nation’s highest military decoration, given for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”

The cemetery also contains the remains of several War of 1812 veterans. In 1987, an archeologist working on a site at Fort Erie in Canada discovered 28 skeletons, interred in a uniform manner lying east to west with hands crossed.  Subsequent investigation identified the remains as U.S. soldiers who fought in the War of 1812’s Niagara Campaign, during which U.S. forces attempted to gain control of Canada.  The soldiers were thought to have been men of the U.S. 2nd Artillery Regiment who died at the 1814 Battle of Snake Hill. After a ceremony in Canada, the casketed remains of the 28 soldiers were transported by hearse to the Bath National Cemetery for reinterment with full military honors. A monument stands near the graves of the War of 1812 veterans.

Today, the Bath Branch Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers is the Bath Veterans Administration Medical Center, which continues to provide care and comfort to veterans.  Modern facilities share the campus with a collection of 30 historic late-1800s buildings of Georgian, Colonial, and Victorian styles.
Plan your visit

Bath National Cemetery is located at San Juan Ave. on the grounds of the Bath Veterans Administration Medical Center in Bath, NY.  The cemetery is open for visitation daily from sunrise to sunset. The administrative office is open Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm; it is closed on all Federal holidays.  For more information, please contact the cemetery office at 607-664-4853, or see the Department of Veterans Affairs website. While visiting, please be mindful that our national cemeteries are hallowed ground.  Be respectful to all of our nation’s fallen soldiers and their families.  Additional cemetery policies may be posted on site.

The National Home for Disabled Volunteers Soldiers, including the Bath Branch, are the subjects of the National Park Service's National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers Travel Itinerary. The itinerary highlights  the 11 homes established after the Civil War.

The campus of the Bath Branch, now the Bath Veterans Administration Medical Center, is open to the public; visitors can drive through and walk on the grounds, visit the cemetery, and view the historic buildings.  Visitors should check in with the Director’s Office upon their arrival at the facility.  Volunteers maintain a museum (Building 29) during the summer.  It is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00am to 2:00 pm, but closed Tuesday and Sunday. For more information, see the Bath Veterans Administration Medical Center’s website. Please respect the privacy of veterans utilizing the facility.

Bath National Cemetery was photographed to the standards established by the National Park Service’s Historic American Landscapes Survey. Numerous buildings on the grounds of the former National Home have been photographed to the standards established by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.

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