Memorial Day At Salisbury National Cemetery, NC
I was interested in finding this local and very cool Civil War era cemetery for the photo opportunity.
Which I totally enjoyed photographing the whole area… WOW.
But what I didn’t realize was first how serene and peaceful the whole area would be. And second I hadn’t researched the history of the place. I knew it was a Union Soldier burial ground… yeah… that’s ALL I knew?
HISTORICAL INFORMATION (directly from website)
Salisbury National Cemetery was established by Confederate authorities to serve as the burial ground for captured Union soldiers incarcerated at the prison in Salisbury. The practice of prisoner exchange kept the prison populations down until 1864, after which their populations swelled. In the fall of 1864, the number of soldiers at Salisbury prison doubled from 5,000 to 10,000. It suffered from one of the highest prison death rates, with as many as half the men dying of starvation or disease.
Recent historical research has led to a disparity over how many men are believed to have died during the last year or so of the war and are buried at the cemetery. The dead were buried in 18 trenches measuring about 240 feet long, located at the southeast end of the cemetery. Colonel Oscar A. Mack, the inspector of cemeteries, said in his report of 1870-71, “The bodies were placed one above the other, and mostly without coffins. From the number of bodies exhumed from a given space it was estimated that the number buried in these trenches was 11,700. The number of burials from the prison pen cannot be accurately known.” The figure of 11,700 was accepted for many years, however, it is probably lower and it is doubtful we will ever know exactly how many unknown remains are there.
After the war this was designated Salisbury National Cemetery, and another 412 remains were relocated here from Lexington, Charlotte, Morgantown, and other places. The cemetery was dedicated in 1874, a wall was built around the perimeter the following year, and by 1876 the headstones and a monument were in place. Salisbury National Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.
The kids were all… we’re driving WHERE?
How long will this take?
WHY are we going to see a cemetery with people we don’t know?
After a little more than an hour exploring the site and reading a few plaques—Including the Gettysburg Address—plus reading about the history of this place. I was completely smitten. What a lovely town, you can FEEL the history beneath your feet. Salisbury is about 30 minutes north of Charlotte.
It took less than an hour to explore the oldest portion of the Cemetery (there are two cemeteries located a few blocks apart in the town of Salisbury). Why see this historic landmark? To really experience firsthand just how many people in acres and acres of land have died fighting for this country. Not all of those stories are pretty. But they ARE our history. Thousands of veterans from wars since the Civil War are now buried here.
My Favorite Plaque: One Country – One Flag
And a few more photos I’m thrilled to share.
I got my pretty pictures. But I gained so much more. Perspective. Education. Dare I say… understanding?
Happy Memorial Day. And to my kids… THIS is why we drove to Salisbury early on a Memorial Day.