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30 July, 2007

The Soldiers National Cemetery at Gettysburg

[excerpted from: Gettysburg National Military Park ] -

To properly bury the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg, the "Soldiers Cemetery" was established on the battleground near the center of the Union line. The brainchild of concerned Gettysburg citizens, the project began soon after the close of the battle as rains and wind wore away the soil from the shallow graves that dotted the battlefield. Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin supported the project and funds were provided by the commonwealth to purchase ground on Cemetery Hill. Some of the money was also used to pay Samuel Weaver and his laborers for the grisly task of removing Union dead from inadequate grave sites that covered the battlefield and hospital sites. The many southern dead would remain on the field until the 1870's, when they were removed to cemeteries in the south.

The work of the cemetery committee was not yet complete by the time of the formal dedication on November 19, 1863. It was during the dedication ceremony, which was attended by approximately 10,000 citizens, that President Abraham Lincoln delivered his most famous speech, the "Gettysburg Address".

Here is a link to the only known photograph taken of President Lincoln at Gettysburg that day: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/gadd/images/platform.jpg

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on Life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.

On fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents to spread,
And glory guards, with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.
- from the Bivouac of the Dead
by Theordore O'Hara

The markers of unknown soldiers from the battle of Gettysburg.

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