Thursday, February 16, 2006

Hallowed ground

Did you know that more than 3 million Americans fought in The Civil War, and over 600,000 men, 2 percent of the population, died in it?

Also did you know more major battles during the Civil War took place in Virginia, the Capital of the Confederacy, than in any other state.

And did you know that Yorktown was the site of a major Civil War battle.

I didn't until today. I had never really thought about it,

I have lived in the Tidewater VA. area for the better part of my life. Unless you count the two or three times a year that I go to the pottery factory in Williamsburg I have never spent much time in that area.

Of course I've done the tourist thing a time or two over the years, but I have never really spent much time exploring the area itself. Maybe that is why it came as a surprise to me to find that a major Civil War battle had been fought in Yorktown. I always thought of that area as a Revolutionary War tourist trap.

Today while riding around I discovered the Yorktown National cemetery. One of the first things I noticed was that the majority of the headstones were marked unknown, and that most of those housed the remains of two or more soldiers. The more I walked the more this intrigued me. It also left me feeling sad to know so many brave young men died so far from home, never to be identified. I couldn't help but wonder what it must have been like for the families to never know where there love one was put to rest.
While reading
I found the following information:

"In August, 1862, David Judd of the 33rd New York Infantry wrote upon passing through Yorktown: "Near to the fortifications [Confederate] was a Union Cemetery, containing the graves of 300 Union soldiers, each of which was adorned by a neat head-board, designating the name and regiment of the soldier." By the end of the Civil War in 1865, the total of Union soldiers buried in the "Union Cemetery" exceeded 600. The following year, the cemetery formally became a National Cemetery and Union dead from 50 sites within a 50 mile radius of Yorktown were re-interred in the newly landscaped cemetery.

Today, the Yorktown National Cemetery, which is closed to burials, contains the remains of 2,183 soldiers, ten of which are Confederate. Only 747 of the dead are identified. Many of the dead are from the 1862 Peninsula Campaign and other battles around Richmond, though some died during the period Yorktown served as a Union garrison from 1862-1864. "

I left knowing I have walked on Hallowed ground..I like to believe that somehow those men know they are not forgotten.



Blogger Connie and Rob said...

This was a great post!

I love visiting places and learning things more about history. That is so terribly sad that so many men gave their lives and are not even marked with a headstone so they may be identified. Soldiers deserve so much more. My prayers go out to each and every one who is out there fighting today.


February 18, 2006 at 6:14 AM  
Blogger Leslie Shelor said...

I didn't know about Yorktown as a Civil War site, either. Interesting! What is sad in the far north of Virginia is how the many historical sites of every period of our history, especially Civil War, are being threatened by development.

February 18, 2006 at 7:48 AM  
Blogger Autumn said...

The site was marked with a stone on each grave, but the ones who contained unknown soliders said just that..Unknown..some had 2 or 3 bodies..It was so sad
I know what you mean, this area is really growing in development. Did you know the Navy is closing Ft. Monroe? I took a trip there yesterday, so much history is going to be lost..

February 18, 2006 at 12:20 PM  

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