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Shiloh National Cemetery

Shiloh National Cemetery

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Published by Bob Andrepont
National Park Service Brochure about Shiloh National Cemetery
National Park Service Brochure about Shiloh National Cemetery

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Published by: Bob Andrepont on May 13, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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“The Handsomest Cem-etery in the South”
In 1866, the War Department established a cemeteryon the battlefield of Shiloh, in southwestern Tennes-see. In order to bury the dead not only from theApril 6-7, 1862, battle of Shiloh but also from all theoperations along the Tennessee River, workersbegan building the “Pittsburg Landing NationalCemetery.” Changed to “Shiloh National Cemetery”in 1889, the cemetery holds 3,584 Civil War dead,2,359 of them unknown. In the fall of 1866, workersdisinterred the dead from 156 locations on thebattlefield, and 565 different locations along theTennessee River. Headboards of wood first markedeach grave, but were replaced in 1876 and 1877 bygranite stones. Tall stones marked the known deadand square, short stones denoted unknown soldiers.Workers built a stone wall around the cemetery in1867, and fashioned ornamental iron gates at theentrance in 1911. A superintendent cared for thecemetery until it was officially consolidated withShiloh National Military Park in 1943. The results of so much labor produced what one observer called“the handsomest cemetery in the South.”Although established as a Civil War burial ground,the Shiloh National Cemetery now holds deceasedsoldiers from later American wars. Many World WarI and II, Korea, and Vietnam burials are in thenewest section of the cemetery. There is also onePersian Gulf War memorial. Total interred in thecemetery now stands as 3,892. Although the cem-etery was officially closed in 1984, it still averagestwo or three burials a year, mostly widows of sol-diers already interred.
“These Honored Dead”The National CemeterySystem
Lincoln’ s dedication of the Gettysburg NationalCemetery was a part of a larger movement to de-cently inter America’s war dead. Battle after battleproduced many dead who deserved proper burial.The result was the congressional establishment of anational cemetery system. President Lincoln signedthe bill on July 17, 1862. All over the nation, particu-larly on Civil War battlefields, workers began tobuild national resting places for America’s dead.Cemeteries began to appear at such places asAntietam, Soldier’s Home, and Gettysburg. Mostcemeteries on southern battlefields were not estab-lished until after the war, however, allowing time forword of the end of the war to spread and for emo-tions to cool. Wartime building of cemeteries in theSouth would not only take manpower away fromthe war effort, but also expose laborers to still-activeConfederate forces that might be lurking in the area.
Use a “short-hand” version of the site name here (e.g. Palo AltoBattlefield not Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Site) set in29/29 B Frutiger bold.
National Park ServiceU.S. Department of the InteriorShiloh National Military ParkTennessee-Mississippi
Shiloh National Cemetery
In this vision of the future, Lincoln spoke of “a newbirth of freedom,” of a “government of the people,by the people, for the people.” But Lincoln knewthat such a future would only be possible with thetragic death of America’s best.In dedicating the new national cemetery atGettysburg, Lincoln tied this new vision of Americato the loss of humanity on the battlefield. Theintention was not only to “dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who heregave their lives that that nation might live,” but alsoto call all Americans “to be dedicated here to theunfinished work which they who fought here havethus far so nobly advanced.” Lincoln called Ameri-cans to “highly resolve that these dead shall nothave died in vain,” and that “from
these honored dead 
we take increased devotion to that cause forwhich they gave their last full measure of devotion.”After the renown orator concluded his remarks andthe thunderous applause faded, the tall, gaunt manrose and began to address the crowd in a highpitched voice. Featuring none of the outwardappearances of importance, the second speakernevertheless spoke as if his was the keynote ad-dress. Although invited to speak almost as anafterthought, President Abraham Lincoln humblyspoke from the heart. The brief remarks he madethat day still echo through American history as oneof the most important speeches ever given.Known to history as the “Gettysburg Address,”Lincoln’s November 19, 1863, speech was more thana dedication of a new national cemetery. Whilefulfilling that obligation very successfully, thespeech did more. Lincoln’s masterpiece pointed toa vision of the future, setting the course of nationaldestiny. It pointed toward an America that Lincolnhoped would one day exist.

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