For many people in Lynchburg, the “Confederate Cemetery” is the Old City Cemetery. Early maps often referred to Confederate Cemetery, not Old City Cemetery. Why are there over 2,200 Confederate soldiers, from 14 states, buried in Lynchburg?
Although there was no significant military engagement in or near Lynchburg, the city was home to the second largest permanent hospital center in the Confederacy. The Civil War was the first war, fought in the United States, where injured soldiers were removed from the battlefield, placed onto box cars and taken to the nearest “hospital town” for treatment, surgery or to die. As Lynchburg had three major rail lines soldiers were oftentimes brought here. Tens of thousands of soldiers, both Union and Confederate, were treated in local hospitals (previously used as tobacco warehouses). When they died they were brought to the city’s only public burial ground, Old City Cemetery, where it was customary to bury “strangers” and those without relatives nearby.
In 1861 the first of 2,500 Civil War soldiers was buried in the cemetery. There are over 2,000 white marble headstones in the Confederate section, each with two lines of inscription. The first line gives the soldier’s initials and the second line gives an abbreviation for his military unit and state. The headstones were installed by the Southern Memorial Association between 1904 and 1915, at a cost of $1.25 each.
In 1866 the Union soldiers buried in the cemetery were exhumed. Many were sent to their hometowns. Approximately 200 Union soldiers were relocated to Poplar Grove National Cemetery near Petersburg, VA.
The Confederate Section is bordered on 3 sides by a boxwood hedge and the old brick wall on the fourth. The 500-foot long, five foot tall brick wall was constructed in 1886. You enter this section of the cemetery through the entrance arch. Made from granite, the arch was built in 1926. It serves as a gateway and a memorial.
In 1869 the Monument to the States was erected. It is the oldest Confederate monument in Virginia and the fourth oldest in the United States. Each of the 14 blocks bears the name of a state represented by soldiers buried here. The order of states is based on the space needed for the lettering, not the number of soldiers from each state buried here.
In 1931 the large concrete bench, Veteran’s Bench, and the domed temple or belvedere, Speakers Belvedere, were built for the annual Memorial Day ceremony. The Memorial Day ceremony has been held almost every year since 1866. It is a most interesting and educational ceremony to attend. Review the Old City Cemetery calendar of events for next year’s date and time.
In addition to the graves of individual Confederate soldiers is a section called Negro Row. Ten African-Americans are buried within or adjacent to the Confederate Section. Most of those buried in Negro Row were slaves who worked in the local military hospitals. Others included body servants of Confederate military officers. The only woman buried in the Confederate Section during the war was a slave known only as “Jane”.
The first Civil War soldier buried in Lynchburg was Pvt.Thomas P. Plunkett. He died of disease at the old Lynchburg College hospital on June 17, 1862. There are six known soldiers buried here who died in the Battle of Lynchburg, June 17-18, 1864. Three known soldiers buried here were deserters. All died when shot for desertion.
Using data from George A. Diuguid’s excellent cemetery records a six-sided kiosk and information display was erected in 1995. Descendants can use the kiosk to search for their soldiers name and burial location.
Throughout June, July and August when the Cemetery hosts free, walking tours (10:00 am each Saturday) of the cemetery time is always spent in the Confederate Section. The Candlelight Tours, held during October, usually tell the story of a Confederate soldier buried here. Or, if you would like to do research on your own burial records are available in the Cemetery Center.
During the past two summers local professors and students interested in archaeology have been conducting “below ground archaeology” surveys in the Confederate Section. By removing and scraping the soil only six inches deep usually reveals very clear answers to grave locations and orientation. The soil in a grave shaft is looser and a different color from the undisturbed “walls” of the grave shaft. Although graves are traditionally six feet deep, graves found here are often only four feet deep or sometimes as shallow as one foot deep.
Almost every guest who has stayed with us at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast has visited the Old City Cemetery. Some take advantage of the tours or events, others wander and enjoy the peacefulness of the cemetery grounds where they might take pictures or contemplate those who have passed on.
Lynchburg unexpectedly became a major “hospital city” during the Civil War due to it’s railroads, availability of “rooms” and it’s remoteness. In fact, in terms of numbers of Confederate Hospitals no other city had more hospitals except for Richmond, Virginia.
Three rail lines terminated in Lynchburg, the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad (from the southwest), the Orange & Alexandria Railroad (from the north) and the Southside Railroad (from Richmond).
Before the war Lynchburg had 39 tobacco manufacturers and another 41 businesses that were manipulators and shippers of the plant. These warehouses were converted to hospitals, along with hotels, a college (Lynchburg College), meeting halls, stables and individual people’s homes. College Hospital admitted more than 20,000 Confederate casualties during the four years of the Civil War.
Lynchburg was considered remote since it was far removed from the eastern part of the state where much of the fighting took place. Warfare took place mostly on flat land, which Lynchburg is certainly not. The James River borders the city on one side, much like a moat.
The five hotels in Lynchburg were all used as hospitals at some point during the war. The Warwick House, located at 1003 Main Street, was the first permanent hospital. The Union “City Hotel” became known as the Ladies’ Relief Hospital. Five hundred women formed the Ladies’ Relief Society, similar to our American Red Cross today. These untrained women were married to wealthy entrepreneurs but they willingly learned medical techniques of putting on tourniquets, cleaning lacerations and ministering to the terminally ill. The Ladies’ relief Hospital death rate in the four years of the war dropped from 93 deaths during the first two years of the war to 36 deaths during the last two years of the war, with roughly the same number of admissions.
The “Tobacco” Hospitals served a great need as the smaller hospitals were occupied to beyond capacity. The hospital names reflected the names of the tobacconist owners who sacrificed their commercial buildings for the sake of the war effort. These building were the antithesis of what we consider a modern day hospital-dingy, poorly lit, cramped and filled with strange odors. Two permanent tobacco hospitals were located on Dunbar Street near Twelfth Street. Both buildings were four to five story rectangular red brick structures, timber framed with stone underpinning, stepped parapet walls and gable roofs.
Prior to the Civil War the wounded in battle were treated on the battlefield or in tent hospitals. The hospitals cared for thousands, but often the patients died not from their wounds but from the treatment or rampant epidemic diseases that spread throughout the close quarters of the hospital buildings. Smallpox, measles, malaria, typhoid fever, dysentery and acute diarrhea killed many. Cleanliness and good hygiene would have prevented many of these diseases from spreading or spreading so rapidly. It is estimated that over 245,513 soldiers, from both armies, died from infection.
The City of Lynchburg in the four years of the Civil War became a living hospital laboratory, testing the efficiency of an overwhelmed, untrained medical system to see if the hospital concept could progress from its reputation as a place where people went to die to a place where people went to recover and return home. Thankfully we have the hospital system today that works efficiently and to the patients benefit.
Interested in the Civil War? When visiting our Lynchburg Bed and Breakfast, The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast we can point you to many Civil War sites. For reservations call us at 434-846-1388 or book on-line.
The Old City cemetery, in Lynchburg, VA, was established in 1806. It has been in continuous operation since it’s founding, making it one of the oldest public cemeteries in the US. Nearly 20,000 people are buried here. They include political, religious and cultural leaders, veterans of every major American war from the Revolution to Vietnam and over 2,200 Confederate soldiers. Three-quarters of those buried are African American (both free and enslaved) and more than one-third are infants and children under the age of four.
In addition to the graves honoring the dead are several buildings/museums, exhibits/monuments, gardens and special horticultural areas. In 2016 The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast’s blog is going to feature a special section of the Old City Cemetery throughout the year.
January we are highlighting the Pest House Museum Medical Center.
Located directly across the street from the Cemetery Center the 1840’s white frame building was the medical office of Dr. John Jay Terrell. It was moved here from his farm, Rock Castle Farm in Campbell County, in 1987. He used this office to treat patients for 40 years. Once restored it now combines his medical office with an example of a Pest House, to explain the medical science of the 1800’s.
Dr. Terrell’s Office contains his operating table, “poison chest,” “asthma chair,” and some of his instruments. A 1860’s hypodermic needle, clinical thermometer and chloroform mask along with his surgical kit are on display. Medical treatments often killed patients in the 1800’s, before their ailments would have. Dr. Terrell implemented washing hands and instruments between patients and the use of sand or sawdust on the floors to cut down on the spread of germs and bacteria. Simple things we do today and expect to be done today. These reforms enacted by Dr. Terrell reduced the Pest House mortality rate from 50 percent to 5 percent.
The Lynchburg Pest House was originally located near Fourth and Wise Streets, beside the early cemetery boundary where most of the patients would be buried. Used to quarantine Lynchburg residents in the 1800’s who contracted contagious diseases such as smallpox or measles the standards of cleanliness and medical care were virtually non-existent. Dr. Terrell deplored the conditions and volunteered to assume the responsibility of improving conditions for both the residents of Lynchburg and the Confederate soldiers who spent time there in quarantine. In the Pest House you will see examples of the straw pallets placed on the floor, that has been covered with sand. The use of sand made it easier to clean away debris and hazardous waste. The interior walls have been painted black to save the patients eyes, as smallpox affects the eyes and light. The garden just outside the Pest House contains various herbs and plants that Dr. Terrell would use when making salves, tinctures and remedies for his patients.
You can tour the Old City Cemetery daily between dawn until dusk. The various buildings and museums are not generally open to the public. You have access to them through placards, large windows and doors and recorded descriptions of the buildings and what they contain. The Cemetery Center is open daily between 11 until 3, or by appointment. For more information about the cemetery, tours, events, burial records or visiting the cemetery contact them at 434.847.1465 or www.gravegarden.org
The Sesquicentennial (150) celebration begins tomorrow! Both the National Park Service and the town of Appomattox are ready for the onslaught of guests from around the world, intent on experiencing this once in a lifetime event. Have you planned out your next 5 days?
As a follow-up to last week’s blog post below you will find some additional highlights of the events, lectures, programs, real-time re-enactments and educational activities taking place between Wednesday, April 8 until Sunday, April 12, 2015. Remember, a complimentary shuttle bus service will be running between Lynchburg and Appomattox Court House National Historic Park. Once at the park a separate shuttle will take you to the individual venues. For those guests staying at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast a shuttle bus pick-up location is within an easy walk.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday: an author’s tent with writers of historical books who will answer your questions, have books to purchase and will help you get a feel for the significance of April 9, 1865.
- Each day there will be Parole Pass Printing demonstrations
- Each day you’ll find Wet-plate Photography exhibits in the park
- Friday, April 10, 2 different guest speakers at Appomattox County High School
- Friday, April 10, through Sunday, April 12, real-time Stacking of Arms Ceremonies
- Extended hours at The Museum of the Confederacy each day
- Special lectures and exhibits at The Museum of the Confederacy each day
- Cavalry and Horse Artillery Encampment at the Appomattox Center for Business and Commerce each day
- United States Colored Troops Encampment at Carver Price Legacy Museum each day
The dates, times and locations of these events, programs and special activities plus many more can be found on the found on the following websites:
Need lodging? Give us a call at 434.846.1388 or check on-line to see if we have had any cancellations.
Commemorate the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, between April 8 to 12, 2015, at Appomattox Court House National Historic Park and throughout Appomattox, Virginia.
Beginning at 9:00am on Wednesday, April 8 and ending at 4:00pm on Sunday, April 12, 2015 a variety of special programs, lectures, activities and events will be held at the National Park and at various locations within the town and county of Appomattox, Virginia.
A real-time program featured on Wednesday the 8th, starting at 3:30 until7:30, will include a lecture and presentation on the Battle.
The Opening Ceremony will take place at the National Park between 11:00-12:30 on Thursday, the 9th. Between 2:00-3:00 Lee will surrender to Grant at the McLean House within the National Park grounds. Lee will leave the McLean House between 3:00-3:30, another real-time event.
On Friday, the 10th, Lee and Grant will meet, the Commissioner’s Meeting will be re-enacted, the Confederate Cavalry will surrender and the first Stacking of Arms will take place. Friday evening, starting at 6:30, a special program the “Footsteps to Freedom” Memorial Ceremony (accompanied by spiritual music) will take place within the National Park. 4500 luminaries will be arranged along a country road to symbolize the slaves living in or near Appomattox when the war ended.
Saturday, the 11th and Sunday the 12th have various lectures, events and programs, held at numerous sites within the National Park, the City of Appomattox or the Museum of the Confederacy. The last Stacking of Arms Ceremony will take place on Sunday at 1:00.
Directions, times, locations and more information can be found at the following websites.
Complimentary shuttle buses will run throughout the day between Lynchburg and Appomattox. Parking will be extremely limited. Separate shuttle buses will take you to the Sesquicentennial venues in the National Park and Appomattox. Guests staying at The Carriage House Inn will be able to walk to one of the shuttle bus stops to Appomattox Court House.
150 years ago today, although not a major battle, the city of Lynchburg heard cannon fire and gunshots. The Battle of Lynchburg is technically a misnomer as the failure of the Union assault kept Lee’s supply lines open, which enabled him to fight for an additional eight months.
It took more than three years for the war to reach Lynchburg. Troop trains regularly pulled into Lynchburg’s Ninth Street Station bearing carloads of wounded Confederate soldiers, as the majority of the tobacco warehouses had been converted into hospitals, making Lynchburg the second-busiest hospital town in the south. Lynchburg manufactured ammunition at it’s foundries and provided milled grain and flour from one of the area’s largest grist mills. As a major supply route for the Confederate Troops, General Grant gave General Hunter orders to destroy Lynchburg thereby disrupting supplies to the Confederate Army and thereby ending the war.
As General Hunter marched through the Shenandoah Valley on his way to Lynchburg he ran into little resistance. He took a page out of General Sherman’s march through the south as he burned and plundered the small towns and villages, including VMI in Lexington as he headed towards Lynchburg. Meanwhile General Lee, knowing the importance of Lynchburg to the South sent General Jubal Early to defend the city as there were very few able bodied persons left in Lynchburg to mount any type of defense.
As General Early was racing to Lynchburg to defend the city, General Hunter and his men, on their way from Lexington to Lynchburg, arrived in the Town of New London where they were offered food and drink. This slowed the advance on Lynchburg by several hours buying General Early several hours of time. Finally, General Hunter arrives in Lynchburg and takes over Sandusky, a plantation in the northwest section of Lynchburg, as his headquarters. While preparing his battle plan he sends out spies to the city.
During the evening and night of June 17, 1864, empty trains kept pulling into the 9th Street Station to the cheers of the townspeople as the band played. Word got back to General Hunter that dozens of trains full of Confederate Troops were arriving to defend the City. Fearing that he was outnumbered General Hunter decided not to attack the City and retreated. In a letter to General Grant, General Hunter states, “It had now become sufficiently evident that the enemy concentrated a force at least double the numerical strength of mine and what added to the gravity of the situation was the fact that my troops had scarcely enough of ammunition left to sustain another well-contested battle.”
While there were a few small skirmishes in Lynchburg during the Battle of Lynchburg, the city was left standing and continued to supply the South for the remainder of the war. Because of General Hunter’s retreat from the Battle of Lynchburg we have many buildings that may have been destroyed if he was able to complete his mission. Sandusky stands today and has been restored to the way it looked when it was General Hunter’s headquarters. It is open to the public. Check the link for more information.
If you are interested in the Civil War, the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse celebrates its 150th year anniversary next spring. We are now taking reservations, and I recommend you book early, if you plan on taking part of all the activities the National Park Service has planned for that week. We are about 20 minutes from Appomattox Courthouse!
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