Memorial Day At Salisbury National Cemetery, NC

2014 May 27

I admit.
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.

Salisbury National Cemetery

salisbury national cemetery gate

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?

salisbury national cemetery carissa rogers photography


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.

kids salisbury national cemetery 2014 carissa rogers photography

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

salisbury national cemetery carissa rogers photography one country one flag

And a few more photos I’m thrilled to share.

salisbury national cemetery carissa rogers photography US Flag Veterans graves


salisbury national cemetery carissa rogers photography black and white civil war cemetery union soldiers POW prison


1 salisbury national cemetery carissa rogers photography family in veteran cemetery on memorial day


salisbury national cemetery carissa rogers photography bikers on memorial day veterans


salisbury national cemetery carissa rogers photography union POW prison gates


salisbury national cemetery carissa rogers photography decorated grave on memorial day veteran

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.

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7 Responses
  1. May 27, 2014

    We love Salisbury. Such a beautiful, quaint little town. I talked to my kids about what Memorial Day is and why it’s a national holiday. We looked at pictures, but that was it. I can’t wait until they are all old enough to go on field trips.
    Twitter: wcornelison

    • May 27, 2014

      Be careful when they are ‘old enough’ they won’t WANT to go… 🙂
      Mine usually stop the whining once we get ‘THERE’ but… you’ve been warned!

  2. May 27, 2014

    I love finding the beauty in most things and while some people would think it weird that I think the headstones are beautiful, what the represent is invaluable. So thankful for the memories of those that still live on in our hearts. Thanks for capturing these awesome images!
    Twitter: mommybknowsbest

    • May 27, 2014

      I totally agree, selfishly I was going just because I knew there would be pretty sites right? But worth the peace and learning experience for sure!

  3. May 27, 2014

    We’ve been to Salisbury, but never to this cemetery. What a perfect way to spend Memorial Day and teach your kids what it’s all really about! Thanks for sharing this Carissa!
    Twitter: Kelchristina

  4. May 27, 2014

    Salisbury is a beautiful little town & the people there are sweet. I am glad that what started off as a trip for pretty pictures morphed into something more. I am always open to experiencing and learning new things whenever I venture out.

    Often times it’s those unexpected moments & lessons that we value and that stick with us the most.
    Twitter: yummommies

  5. May 28, 2014

    I have lived here my whole life, and while I’ve been to Arlington, I’ve never been to the cemetery in Salisbury. I really need to take the kids.
    Twitter: mamamommymom

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