Antietam National Cemetery
The Antietam National Cemetery is part of the National Park Service and is located on the Antietam Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland. It contains the graves of soldiers killed during the Maryland Campaign of 1862 during the Civil War as well as more than 200 non-civil war veterans that were killed in conflicts after the civil war up until the Cemetery's closure in 1953. Those included Veterans and their wives from the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. A special exemption was made when on October 29, 2000 Patrick Roy of the United States Navy, who was killed in the attack of the USS Cole, was buried at the cemetery. The cemetery was originally created because many of the soldiers who died at the Battle of Antietam had not been properly buried. Soldiers were buried in mass graves and many graves were unidentifiable or unmarked, scattered around and even exposed. Thus, in 1864 the Maryland Senate introduced a plan to establish a state or national cemetery. In 1865 Maryland purchased 11-1/4 acres that would later become Antietam National Cemetery.
Backstory and Context
It was a hard task to locate burial sites to identify the soldiers. With the help of two local men, Aaron Good and Joseph Gill, many soldiers were located and identified, which took several years. With contributions in the amount of $70,000 from 18 Northern States and workers consisting of mostly veterans, the cemetery was completed in 1867 and dedicated on September 17, 1867. Notably the dedication was on the fifth anniversary of the battle.
Buried in the cemetery are approximately 4,776 Union soldiers of which 1,836 of them are unknown. The soldiers are buried together by state, with a section specific for officers, U.S. Regulars and unknown soldiers. Also buried in the cemetery are more than 200 veterans from other wars.
Also inside the cemetery is the statue called the Private Soldier Monument, which is a dedication to the Union soldiers buried in the cemetery. The contract for the monument was awarded to J.G. Batterson, who also constructed the monument at Gettysburg Cemetery. The statue was originally constructed and stood in front of the Centennial Exposition until being transported to the cemetery in 1880. The statue faces North or toward home for the soldiers and is inscribed with "Not for themselves, but for their country." The statue is known to locals as "Old Simon."
The Battle of Antietam is considered one of the bloodiest one day battles in American History, with many more dying after the battle from their wounds or sickness related to it.
"History of Antietam National Cemetery." Western Maryland's Historical Library. Accessed June 01, 2017. http://www.whilbr.org/antietamnationalcemetery/index.aspx.
Antietam National Cemetery. Accessed June 01, 2017. https://www.nps.gov/anti/learn/historyculture/antietam-national-cemetery.htm.