Wednesday, February 13, 2008

National Cemetery

My husband and I took advantage of some warm weather recently, and took a walk around the Fredericksburg National Cemetery, where 15,300 are buried at the top of a terraced hillside. Most of the dead are Union soldiers who fought in the Civil War battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House and other nearby campaigns, or who died of illness in camp. Only a fraction of the soldiers are identified, and their graves are marked with small upright stones. The graves of the unknown are indicated by flat, numbered stone markers in the ground. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place, and especially quiet in the wintertime.

There are a number of these signs, each with a sad quatrain that add up to the most depressing poem about the war dead (click on the image for a closer look). Just in case you didn't find the sight of 15,000 gravestones depressing enough.

The monument to Gen. Humphreys and his division, Battle of Fredericksburg.

The hillside, taken in the summer.

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