Civil War Burial Details
During my years of study of the American Civil War, I have found that in many cases burial details were a
sad and horrible event. In a good many cases, the burial details were made up of African Americans and
it did not matter whether it was for the South or the North. Many times the dead were placed in trench
lines and covered over and sometimes not deep enough and rain water would bring them to the surface.
In one case in Virginia, an ice house in the side of a hill was filled with the corpses of the fallen.
At Camp Douglas, a Union P.O.W. Camp for the C.S.A. captured, was located outside of Chicago,
Illinois. Many of those who died there were from medical experiments and the bodies dumped into Lake
Michigan. The Mayor of Chicago and other leading citizens brought an uproar when bodies began
washing ashore. The camp commander was given Martial Law over Chicago to quell any problems.
Secretary of War Stanton wanted to keep this quiet.
Then we had Andersonville P.O.W. camp here in Georgia for the Union Soldiers. Many of those kept in
the camp died of disease, hunger and wounds in the hot Georgia sun. There were a good many C.S.A.
guards who died along with them from the same problems. It is worth noting that the commander of Camp
Douglas received a medal after the war and the commander of Andersonville was hung.
There were some cases where the soldiers were known who were buried on the field of battle in graves
and were marked so as if the family wished to claim them later they could. An example of this is when the
body of Lt. John Robert Selfridge from Henry County was returned from Virginia and his funeral was held
at the Shingleroof Campground. The very place where he signed up and prepared for war in 1861 and he
was returned in 1863.
If you live in our area, pay a visit to the Confederate Cemetery at Jonesboro, GA. There you will see the
solemn rows of headstones with no one under them. The dead are buried in a mass grave together from
the Battle of Jonesboro of August 31-September 1, 1864. But the site is truly a somber place to visit.
But imagine what it was like having to bury the dead at Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Shiloh, Missionary
Ridge, Vicksburg, Petersburg, Chickamauga, Kennesaw, Atlanta:There were people working day and
night to get those bodies in some type of grave to try and keep down disease and pestilence.
Let me tell you this, it is a truly humbling and bad feeling to find the remains of a Civil War soldier.
Whether it be part of a leg, arm, foot, or skull it is not for the weak. I have seen it all in my research over
the years. That is the part of Civil War Archaeology that will humble you for sure.
The Cemetery Research Group of Henry County Website
The B&M Civil War Research Group
The Georgia Historical Society, 1980-1986
The Georgia Historical Artifacts and Research Group, 1981-1989
Franklin Garrett Cemetery Research 1935.