Let’s Talk About: The Final Honor

 In the Summer, 2022, issue of American Ancestors, publication of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, there was an article aimed at Memorial Day. Written by David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogists at NEHGS, the article was titled “The Final Hour: U.S. Military Gravestones.”

Lambert began the article thusly:  “Most American cemeteries include a veterans section. These lots typically feature standard white marble gravestones……which the U.S. government provides at no cost for any honorably discharged veteran…..a tradition that began about a decade after the Civil War.”

“Soldiers from earlier wars had gravestones, of course, but these were placed by families. Not all of the Civil War dead were identifiable and many wooden headboards in military lots are marked as unknown. Some Union or Confederate dead were identified based on their uniforms, buttons or insignia.”

Realizing that the wooden headboards were deteriorating, on March 3, 1873, Congress passed an appropriation of a million dollars ( nearly 28 million today) to replace the wooden headboards with more permanent marble or granite markers.

Lambert ended the article with:  “Nearly 150 years after its original appropriation, the U.S. Veterans Administration continues to assist with marking or re-marking graves of American veterans from the Revolutionary War to the present. For assistance with ordering (or replacing) a gravestone for an honorably discharged U.S. veteran, contact the veterans’ agent in the town or city of burial.’
Websites you might wish to check (Google):
*US Civil War Roll of Honor, 1861-1865*Roll of Honor: names of Soldiers who died in Defense of the American Union*US, Burial Registers for Military Posts, Camps, and Stations, 1768-1921*US Records of Headstones of Deceased Union Veterans, 1879-1903*US Headstone Applications for US Military Veterans, 1925-1949*American Battle Monuments Commission database*Interment.net*Find-A-Grave*Billion Graves

TRIVIA:  Know why Union gravestones have rounded tops and Confederate markers have pointed tops? The “wag” is that the Confederates “wanted no damn Yankees sitting on their graves.”  True? Have no idea.