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Visual Evidence

Transcript: Letter from the Secretary of War regarding permanent grave markers.

War Department
June 25th 1873


I have decided to adopt the following described headstones for the National Cemeteries -

For the Known.

A white marble, or gray granite, slab four (4") inches thick - ten (10") inches wide, twelve (12") inches high above ground and, for the latitude of Washington and South, twenty-four (24") inches in the ground -- north of that latitude, thirty (30") in the ground.

The part above ground to be polished neatly and to have the top slightly curved.

The number of the grave, the rank and name of the soldier, and the name of the state from which he came, to be cut on one face - the figures and capital letters to be 2 inches long and 1/3 inch deep; the other letters one inch long and 1/3 inch deep. The letters may be in relief, or incised, at the option of the bidder.

The portion below ground to be rough dressed, and at least inch wider and thicker than the part above ground. The bottom to be straight, and of uniform thickness, and the corners square.

For the Unknown.

A granite, or marble, block six inches square and two and a half feet long - 6" x 6" x 2'-6" -

The top and four inches of the sides of the upper end to be neatly dressed, and the number of the grave cut on the top in figures 2 inches long and inch deep. When the figures are more than three, they will be arranged in a curve around the margin.

The top to be flat, or, slightly convex. The bottom to be flat and full six inches square - the rest of the block to be rough dressed, or split, but to be of full size throughout.

The block to be firmly set in the ground so that the top shall be just even with the top of the grave.

The marble for the slabs to be white, of fine grain, good texture, and hard; For the blocks to be nearly white of pretty fine grain and good texture - to be a good durable marble.


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