Genealogy: U.S. Civil War 1861-1865—Search the cemetery for information

Genealogy: Search the cemetery for U.S. Civil War 1861-1865 informationBy Barry J. Ewell
Finding graves of your ancestors from the Civil War era for both Union and Confederate soldiers is easier than you might think. The following are few resources.

Department of Veterans Affairs National Gravesite Locator. Search for burial locations of veterans and their family members in VA National Cemeteries, state veterans cemeteries, various other military and Department of Interior cemeteries, and for veterans buried in private cemeteries when the grave is marked with a government grave marker using the Gravesite Locator.

Headstones Provided for Deceased Union War Veterans circa 1879-1903.  An act of Congress of February 3, 1879, extended the privilege of government-provided gravestones to soldiers buried in private cemeteries.  There are 166,000 cards recording these headstones has been reproduced on microfilm (NARA microfilm M1845-22 rolls).  You can find the film at LDS Family History Library/Centers and National Archives and regional record services. These records consist of 3-inch by 4-inch cards arranged alphabetically by surname, thereunder by first name. The cards include some or all of the following information about each soldier: rank, company, and regiment; place of burial, including the cemetery’s name, and the city or town, county, and state in which it is located; grave number, if any; date of death; name of contractor who supplied the headstone and the date of the contract under which the stone was provided. Most of the burials occurred in private cemeteries, probably in the county of the soldier’s last residence. Some occurred in cemeteries at National Homes for Disabled Volunteers Soldiers.

The following is an example of Civil War headstone:

Union Soldier
Civil WarConfederate Soldier

Civil War
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. The organization has a national graves registration database that primarily lists burials for Union soldiers, however, some Confederate soldiers are also listed. Information that may be given for a person includes birth and death dates, age, unit, rank, enlistment and discharge dates, and name and address of cemetery.

Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (CWSS). The CWSS now includes a lookup capability for Civil War Monument graphical images. These images are associated with units and states, and the capability now exists to link the unit history narratives (above) to images of all monuments associated with a particular unit. The National Park Service manages 14 National Cemeteries, all but one of which is related to a Civil War battlefield park. The NPS is planning on listing all names of burials in these cemeteries on the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System. The first phase involves data taken from written records of Poplar Grove National Cemetery at Petersburg National Battlefield, and also includes images of the headstones.

Confederate soldiers. There is an estimated 250,000-plus confederate graves that are not very well marked. The LDS Family History Library has microfilms of two books  written by Raymond W. Watkins. Deaths of Confederate Soldiers in Confederate Hospitals (15 volumes)  (FHL book 975 V2w.) and Confederate Burials (28 volumes) (FHL book 975 V3w.).

Historical society headstone symbolism. Also be on the lookout symbols on graves of family members that were members of the historical societies:

Knowing that family members were members of these societies provide clues that your family may have copies of the research and applications that were used to apply for membership or that one of your ancestors did fight the Revolutionary War and you should be searching for military records.  Each of these organizations required the person to provide genealogical proof that their ancestor did in deed fight in the Civil War. The following are examples headstone symbols you will find:

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

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Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)

Civil WarCivil WarCivil WarCivil WarCivil WarDaughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War

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Sons of Confederate Veterans

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United Daughters of the Confederacy

Civil War Civil War Civil War
United Confederate Veterans