Largest Civil War Cemetery
August 23, 2012 6:54 AM   Subscribe

Is Vicksburg National Cemetery the largest Civil War cemetery?
posted by rzperllian to Society & Culture (6 answers total)
posted by timsteil at 7:07 AM on August 23, 2012


(There's a lot of maybes in pretty much any kind of cemetery/burial question, especially if it involves anything that might have happened before 1950 or so. I'm assuming here, BTW, that you didn't mean to say "where they buried Union soldiers" at the end of your question.)
posted by SMPA at 7:29 AM on August 23, 2012

In what way are you defining "largest"? By land area, by total number of burials, by number of Union burials or something else?
posted by easily confused at 8:29 AM on August 23, 2012

Any metric will do, and yup, I don't mean just Union soldiers. Thanks!
posted by rzperllian at 10:30 AM on August 23, 2012

I'm pretty sure Arlington is the largest American national cemetery containing the remains of any person who fought in the US Civil War, because Calverton is the largest of the national cemeteries in terms of physical size (1,045 acres,) Arlington is #2 (624 acres,) and Calverton was built in 1978. The last claimed Civil War vet died in 1959 and the last confirmed (or even very likely) vet in 1956 (*), so.

I'm not sure where the largest cemeteries in the US are, but Greenlawn and Dayton National are considered to be "large" at 360 acres and 98 acres respectively, so I'm guessing Arlington can give the overwhelming majority of them a run for their money.

Part of your trouble here is that about a decade after the Civil War, various authorities went and disinterred a bunch of people and tried to redistribute them based on factors like where they were from, where there was space (either in the appropriate geographic region north/south, or in a location where they were (more) easily protected/honored), and so on. The major battlegrounds that were preserved as burial sites (Gettysburg, Antietam, etc.) were quite a bit smaller (like, 11 acres.) So we have a TON of similarly-sized cemeteries to contend with.

Plus, cemeteries don't like being all "check out how many dead bodies we have in this place full of death, look at what cold-hearted death-means-nothing statisticians we are," so it's harder to find reliable statistics even when you don't have to account for things like "oh, it turns out an extra thousand people were buried here, whoopsie." I used to live near Camp Chase - it was basically forgotten for thirty years, the big monument and historical markers say there are 2,260 people buried there (which is what Wikipedia thus reports,) but the VA says it's 2,168 people in 2,122 grave sites. It's actually not bad at all by the standards of Civil-War-era burial grounds - it helps these were mostly PoWs, who were thus fairly well documented.

(*) Mr. Woolson is buried in Duluth; Mr. Williams in Texas.
posted by SMPA at 12:12 PM on August 23, 2012

If you just want number of burials, Arlington Nat'l. Cemetery has something like 400,000: exact number unknown due to poor records, sorry. The cemetery was started during the Civil War, with recently-killed Union soldiers, so perhaps it qualifies for your purposes. At this point, it has both Union and Confederate dead, as well as from every era since plus a number of Revolutionary dead that were moved in later.
posted by easily confused at 7:13 AM on August 27, 2012

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