Digging up the Dead

A burial detail unearths dead soldiers from their battlefield graves, for reburial elsewhere in marked graves, among the graves of friends—a last service to those beyond service.

This picture is taken somewhere in the eastern theaters of the war, but it was a scene that repeated itself often in the West—and on the Confederate and Federal sides of the lines.

A member of the Fifty-First Illinois wrote, "The bodies had been so poorly buried by the rebs that subsequent rains had exposed the remains. Lt. Buck's body was identified by a pair of his shoulder straps and the gold filling in his teeth, Bilby by his red hair and the others by finding them right where they fell in battle or where we left them. "

In the case of soldiers of the Fifty-First, after Chickamauga, most of the reinterrments were to the national cemetery in Chattanooga, though some remains were shipped north for burial in local cemeteries.


Library of Congress Civil War Photo Collection