Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



The Civil War in the United States was the deadliest conflict faced by Americans during the nineteenth century. The resulting numbers of dead bodies called for a change in both cemetery planning and traditional cemetery use. The Union created what became the National Cemetery System, consisting of standardized, nearly identical cemeteries created throughout the South both during and immediately after the war. This system, controlled by the federal government, sought to honor the loyalty of the Union dead while simultaneously dishonoring the Confederate dead, who could not be buried in national cemeteries. In contrast, southerners formed local organizations, primarily made up of women, to provide burial services for their dead. They also sought to restore honor to the Confederate dead through such methods as the Lost Cause, which provided a southern perspective on the Civil War and proclaimed the Confederate dead to be heroes. Both sides used their respective burial grounds as sites for commemoration, further recognizing the loyalty and heroism of the dead and showing that they could provide proper care for the graves of their fallen soldiers. The states of Virginia and Louisiana both went through the process of cemetery creation and commemoration after the Civil War, but in different ways. Virginia, in the Upper South, was the site of numerous battles, resulting in large numbers of dead and therefore large numbers of burials in the state. The process of cemetery creation as well as commemorative practices in Virginia was competitive between the federal government and southerners, with each side striving to show better care for the dead. In Louisiana, however, fewer battles during the war combined with a Deep South location that limited the number of northerners in the state, resulted in fewer national cemeteries and Confederate burial sites. The process of cemetery creation and the commemoration that followed in Louisiana was therefore not as contentious as the process in Virginia. Together, the history of Civil War cemeteries in Virginia and Louisiana provides a broader understanding of the process of cemetery creation and commemoration that resulted from the Civil War.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Gaines Foster



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History Commons