Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

NYC Project IDs More than 4,000 Civil War Graves

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 29, 2011

This seems like a big thing, and a good one. From the Associated Press:

Clarence McKenzie, a local boy fatally wounded in an accidental shooting in Maryland, was buried June 14, 1861, two months after the Union garrison at Fort Sumter surrendered to Confederate forces. He was followed to the grave 12 days later by Adolph Vincens, a 23-year-old London-born jeweler who was the first Civil War battle casualty buried at Green-Wood.

By the time the war ended four years later, about 200 other soldiers and sailors who died in the Civil War were buried at Green-Wood, established in 1838 in what was then a rural section of Brooklyn. In the decades after the war, thousands of others would join their comrades – and even some of their one-time enemies – at the historic cemetery.

Today, the 478-acre expanse of greenery and statuary covering the cemetery’s rolling hills is believed to be the final resting place of about 8,000 Civil War veterans.

A team of volunteers and Green-Wood staff has spent nearly a decade trying to identify all those graves. When the project began in September 2002, cemetery officials figured they had, at most, 500 veterans of the nation’s bloodiest war buried here.

Using the cemetery’s own burial records, plus government, military and privately owned documents available online, Green-Wood’s project has identified the graves of about 4,600 Civil War veterans. Green-Wood historian Jeffrey Richman estimates 3,000 to 4,000 more are scattered among the cemetery’s more than 560,000 total interments.

The Civil War dead buried at Green-Wood include unknown privates and famous officers, buglers and Medal of Honor recipients, Yankees from Maine to Iowa, fathers, sons and brothers, and even 75 Confederates, including two generals. None of the original gravestones for the Confederates gave any indication they had fought for the South, an intentional omission being rectified by the installation of new granite markers provided by Veterans Affairs.

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Image: In this March 2, 2011 photo, headstones from the Veterans Administration are ready to be installed on the graves of Civil War veterans who had no markers at Green-Wood Cemetery in the Brooklyn borough of New York. A project at the cemetery hopes to identify the nearly 8,000 Civil War soldiers buried beneath the green expanse in the New York City outer borough. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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2 Responses

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  1. Keith said, on May 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Andy, yes, I live down the street from Green-Wood and visit almost weekly. They are doing an incredible job with this project. You see the new headstones at every turn throughout the cemetery. Each soldier’s story is one more tile in the mosaic. If some so-called “heritage groups” spent their time on such endeavors they could make an actual contribution to our understanding of the conflict and the era.

    • Andy Hall said, on May 31, 2011 at 3:24 pm

      Thanks for adding this. It sounds like an incredible project; I’m sorry I hadn’t known about it before. There seems to be an assumption among Southron heritage groups that Northerners don’t care too much about their Civil War legacy; this story argues strongly otherwise.

      The local SCV/SUV groups here had made an effort several years ago, when they were actively doing markers (not sure if they still are), of adding a few lines of further explanation of each man’s personal story. I always thought that was something sorely needed, but often overlooked.


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