Annual Illumination 2016 - Stop #3

Known or Unknown; Here they Lie Side-by-Side, Just as they Stood in Battle

In a time before dog tags were issued by the military, only a few of the soldiers fortunate enough to be buried had marked graves. But more often than not, these markers did not survive the elements. To save money and time, many of the unidentified soldiers buried in this cemetery have been buried together in mass graves; the number of soldiers per grave is marked with a number on a small, flat, square stone. Oftentimes, in attempting to identify the remains, only a partial name or initials could be found.Those would then be transferred to the gravestone.There are over 12,000 soldiers in this cemetery whose identities can only be tied to partial names, initials, or even less than that.

Two known soldiers, Lieutenant James Clark and Corporal Frederick Wildt, were buried and given marked graves after their deaths at the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862. These two men were well known and well liked in their regiment, which likely resulted in the preservation of their identities.Their memories have been saved not only by the marked graves, but also by the letters written about them after their deaths.Today, these men lie side-by-side in the cemetery to observe the way they stood together in the ranks of their regiment.


Last updated: June 9, 2016

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