Of Monuments & Winchester National Cemetery

(Photo by Sarah Kay Bierle)

From the research desk!

I’ve been getting ready for Emerging Civil War’s fundraiser for Wreath Across America, and this past week some of my favorite sources are the commemorative books published after several Union veterans touring trips to battlefields in the decades after the Civil War. The group known as “Sheridan’s Veterans” planned and conducted some tours in the Shenandoah Valley in the 1880’s that sound like some wild fun. (Real fireworks every night with different veteran regiments trying to out-do each other with the best fireworks, music, and alcohol?)

But despite some of the escapades that the veterans undertook on these trips, their journeys back to the battlefields or burial places of their comrades had deep meaning. Some of the Union regiment monuments were placed during these trips, as is explained under the heading “A Beautiful Service” which details the dedication of the 38th Massachusetts Monument. Here’s the introduction:

A great multitude of the men killed during the war were hastily buried, both by friend and foe, without being recognized. Many of these bodies have since been gathered from field and farm and grove, and decently buried in the national cemeteries. Occasionally even now the plough brings to the surface human bones, with clinging shreds of uniform or buttons, showing that a Union soldier there met his fate. These remains are usually sent to the nearest national cemetery. The bodies of many dead heroes, undisturbed by the hand of man, will return to the elements on the historic fields of their fame.

But it is fitting and proper that some memorial stone should bear their names, and the most suitable place for this would seem to be in some national cemetery near the scene of sacrifice, and where perchance their bodies rest under some headstone marked “Unknown.”

Probably some such train of thought suggested to the mind of Capt. William H. Whitney, of the Thirty-eighth Massachusetts Infantry, as he stood in the National Cemetery at Winchester, during the first visit of the Sheridan’s Veterans to the Valley, that it would be well to erect a simple monument in that cemetery, bearing the names of those of his regiment who were known to have fallen in the Valley, but of whose burial no record is known…

38th Massachusetts Monument in Winchester National Cemetery (LOC)

At this time, I’m planning to share more about the 38th Massachusetts regiment and their monument’s dedication during the fundraiser evening on October 5, 2022.

Please consider supporting Emerging Civil War’s fundraiser to help Wreaths Across America place more wreaths at Winchester National Cemetery. A donation of $15 covers the cost of one additional wreath and all donations go directly to Wreaths Across America. When you donate through Emerging Civil War’s fundraiser page, your name and email are added to our guest list for the exclusive virtual history program which will be hosted on October 5, 2022 at 7pm. You’ll be able to join us for a history presentation and an interactive time as a thank-you for your support. (We’ll send you the link closer to the event date.)

To learn more about this event, please check out the press release here: https://emergingcivilwar.com/2022/08/31/emerging-civil-war-hosts-fundraiser-for-wreaths-across-america/

To make a donation and be able to join the virtual history program, please visit: https://bit.ly/ECW2022Wreaths

2 Responses to Of Monuments & Winchester National Cemetery

  1. Considering what Sheridan did to the Shenandoah Valley, and how Southerners felt about him and others, it’s very generous and encouraging that there has been no effort at all to remove those monuments. But the Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Trust is opposed to removing historic statues and memorials – to anyone.

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