Annual Illumination 2016 - Stop #2

A Mere Boy, This Man Lived

Most soldiers who died during the Civil War were buried by 1868, but for decades after into the 1930s, soldier remains were found and brought to the cemetery. Since 1870, local residents have found the remains of at least two-dozen soldiers, but there are undoubtedly more. After the war, Congress expanded the eligibility requirements for burials in the national cemeteries to include people such as Private Evander Willis, who fought in the war at the age of 18, survived, and lived until October 1935, decades after the Civil War ended.

In the 1930s, at the 75th anniversary of the war, only about 10,000 veterans were still alive. With the new changes Congress allowed, veterans like Willis found their final resting places in the Fredericksburg National Cemetery, receiving Civil War-style headstones like they would have if they had died during the war. One hundred and fifty years after its establishment, the cemetery is closed to burials but serves as a place of reflection for the thousands who visit every year to honor the soldiers who defended their country.


Last updated: June 9, 2016

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