Civil War Cemeteries
Approximately 120,000 Georgians served the Confederacy, and many thousands of them died over the course of the conflict, with estimates varying from around 11,000 to 25,000. Within the state itself, several major battles and numerous skirmishes left both Union and Confederate soldiers dead near farms, homes, hospitals, and towns. While many soldiers died on battlefields, many more died in hospitals from wounds and disease. Though most of the dead in Georgia were Confederates, a significant number of Union soldiers died as well.
Many fallen soldiers remained unidentified. The corpses were often very deteriorated after battle as the result of wounds and decomposition, and many were initially buried in mass graves near where they fell. For major engagements, such as those at Chickamauga, Resaca, and Atlanta, bodies were moved to nearby existing cemeteries or to new ones created just after the fighting.
Stone monuments or obelisks were often constructed in these cemeteries to honor both individuals and full companies and regiments that suffered significant losses. In addition, the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), which formed a Georgia chapter in 1895, placed iron crosses of honor on many graves throughout the state. Later, soldiers' resting places were officially marked with regulation government headstones, noting their service to the Confederacy.
Kingston and Cassville Cemeteries
Each cemetery in Georgia has its own history relating to local events and politics during and after the Civil War. Kingston and Cassville, both in Bartow County, for example, established Confederate cemeteries after intense fighting in that area in May 1864, during the early part of the Atlanta campaign. There are 250 unknown Confederate and 2 Union soldiers buried in Kingston. The Cassville cemetery holds approximately 300 unknown Confederate soldiers (including a general) who died in eight local hospitals. They were buried in the town cemetery after Union general William T. Sherman's troops set fire to Cassville. The UDC placed marble headstones on all the Cassville graves in 1899.
The separate cemeteries in Marietta were created because local civilians objected to enemies lying together in death. A prominent Marietta businessman, Henry Green Cole, sought a combined Confederate and Union cemetery, and donated land toward the project. When local officials objected, Cole gave the land to the federal government to be used for the burial of Union casualties only, and it was designated as such in 1866.
A well-known monument to the Confederate dead, the "Lion of Atlanta," was erected at Oakland in 1894. Confederate vice president Alexander Stephens was briefly interred there after his death in 1883, but his body was later moved to his home at Crawfordville, in Taliaferro County.
Barry L. Brown and Gordon R. Elwell, Crossroads of Conflict: A Guide to Civil War Sites in Georgia (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2010).
Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008).
Richard J. Lenz, The Civil War in Georgia: An Illustrated Traveler's Guide (Watkinsville, Ga.: Infinity Press, 1995).
Jim Miles, Civil War Sites in Georgia (Nashville, Tenn.: Rutledge Hill Press, 1996).
David N. Wiggins, Georgia's Confederate Monuments and Cemeteries (Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2006).
Marilyn Yalom, The American Resting Place: 400 Years of History through Our Cemeteries and Burial Grounds (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008).
Leah Richier, University of Georgia
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.