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     A Guide to Research Resources

Cemeteries and Headstone Records

Headstones and Markers

Government-Provided Headstones

In 1873, Congress granted burial rights to all honorably discharged veterans of the Civil War in national military cemeteries. Another act of congress authorizing government-provided gravestones for soldiers buried in private cemeteries was passed in 1879.  The names and places of burial places of the soldiers provided with these headstones were to be preserved.  These records, part of the Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, Record Group 92, have been microfilmed, and are available at the National Archives. 

Carded Headstone Records

Microfilm publication M1845, Card Records of Headstones Provided for Deceased Union Civil War Veterans, 1879-ca. 1903, consists of 22 rolls of microfilm which contain more than 166,000 card records of headstone (gravestone) contracts provided for deceased Union veterans of the U.S. Civil War. 

The records consist of 3 by 4 inch cards arranged alphabetically by surname, then by first name.  The cards contain information such as rank, company, regiment, date of death, burial place including the name of the cemetery, grave number, if any, and the name of the contractor who provided the stone.  Most of the burials occurred in private cemeteries, usually in the county of the soldier's last residence; some occurred in cemeteries at National Homes of Disabled Volunteers Soldiers.  Unfortunately, a paper cutter was used to cut off a small section from the top of each card, and some of the names have been cut off and may be difficult, if not impossible, to read.  In some instances, the names have been rewritten below the original.

NOTE:  The carded records cover headstones provided for Union Civil War soldiers who died between 1861 and 1903.  The gravestones were provided by the Federal Government between 1879 and 1903 under contracts entered into with private companies. 

These records can be viewed at the National Archives Building in Washington DC and at thirteen NARA regional records service facilities. For more information, Carded Headstone Records.

Later Headstone Applications

Applications of Headstones in Private Cemeteries, 1909-1924, entry 592, Record Group 92.
Arranged by state and then by county, regardless of date. 

Applications for Headstones for Soldiers Buried at Soldiers Homes, 1909-1924, entry 591, Record Group 92.
Arranged by state and then by the location of the home. 

The information in these records is similar to the card records referenced above:  name of veteran, rank, company, regiment or vessel, date of death, the name and location of the cemetery, and the date of application.  Supplemental information regarding a veteran's service may be found in these records. 

Both sets of records have not been microfilmed, and can be searched at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. 

Researchers may also order records from the National Archives.

For faster service, researchers may wish to contact a professional researcher at the National Archives in DC.

NOTE:  For headstone applications of 1925-1970, contact the Modern Military Records Branch of the National Archives.

National Archives Records Administration
Modern Military Records
Attn:  Headstone Applications
8601 Adelphi Road, Room 2400
College Park, MD 20740-6001

If you prefer to hire a researcher to check the records for you, follow this link to a list of professional researchers who regularly search records at College Park.

Fore more information on the history of Government-provided headstones, read this article that appeared in the Spring 2003 issue of Prologue Magazine (NARA publication): 
Honoring Our War Dead: The Evolution of the Government Policy on Headstones for Fallen Soldiers and Sailors

Ordering Headstones for Union and Confederate Soldiers

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a government headstone or marker for the grave of any deceased eligible veteran - including Confederate Civil War soldiers - in any cemetery around the world. For all deaths occurring before September 11, 2001, the VA may provide a headstone or marker for graves that are not already marked with a private headstone.  Flat markers in granite, marble, and bronze and upright headstones in granite and marble are available. The style chosen must be consistent with existing monuments at the place of burial.

Weaver HeadstoneThis is a photograph of a headstone I ordered for a Confederate ancestor who died during the Civil War.  I discovered that my 3rd Great Uncle John Weaver was buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia in an unmarked grave.  I requested the forms from the Veteran's Administration and sent the completed application with a minimal installation fee to the cemetery office with a copy of John’s service record.  Six weeks later the stone was installed. I was so happy to visit his grave and see the beautiful stone the following Memorial Day. This headstone is the upright model. It measures 42 inches long, 13 inches wide and 4 inches thick. Weight is approximately 230 pounds. Variations may occur in stone color and design may vary from cemetery to cemetery.  John's headstone bears the Southern Cross.

For information on ordering headstones and markers

NOTE: Although the VA ordering instructions state that you have to provide copies of the veteran's discharge papers, this is not true in the case of Civil War soldiers.  A copy of the military service record should be sufficient. 

Burial Records

To request information about a Civil War Veteran's Burial Site in a National Cemetery, you should begin with the Nationwide Gravesite Locator on the National Cemetery Administration web site.

The site covers most of the 120 Department of Veterans Affairs national cemeteries that may be searched for burial locations.  Some internments will not be listed since several cemeteries have not completed their records as of this writing. 

If you don't find what you are looking for, write directly to the National Cemetery Administration (402B), Department of Veteran Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20420.  The VA has alphabetically arranged index cards identifying practically all soldiers buried in national cemeteries and other cemeteries under Federal jurisdiction from 1861 to present.

Helpful tips:

  • There is no form to complete – simply state your request in writing.
  • There is no fee for this search.
  • Expect a reply in about three weeks.
  • Be sure to include your address, phone number and e-mail address with your request.
  • If requesting burial information, be sure to include the following:
    • Full name of veteran including alternative spellings
    • Date and place of birth
    • Date and place of death
    • Regiment, if known, or state from he entered the service
    • Military Service Branch, i.e. Army, Navy, Marines



Related Links

Civil War Cemetery and Burial Links
Civil War Cemetery Links
Confederate Cemetery List
- Comprehensive List by State
CWSS Civil War Cemeteries (in process)

At this writing only the Poplar Grove Cemetery at the Petersburg National Battlefield is online.
- National Cemeteries by State
Records of burials on this site were provided by the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs. These records may not represent the complete list of burials, only those that are on file with the VA. Reports of any errors should be directed to them.
- Search Cemeteries Around the World
Records for 4,056,102 cemetery records across 8,905 cemeteries from around the world.
National Cemetery Administration
National Cemetery Admin. - Headstones & Markers
National Cemetery Web Pages
- Cemeteries by State
Nationwide Gravesite locator
RootsWeb.com Cemetery Record Database
Contains more than 795,000 records.
USCWC Cemetery Database Project
 (LSU) Cemetery Database

Published Sources

Other Published Sources

Atwater, Dorence.  Prisoners Who Died at Andersonville Prison: Atwater List.  Andersonville, GA: National Society of Andersonville, 1981.  

Busey, John W.  The Last Full Measure Burials IN The Soldier's National Cemetery At Gettysburg.  Hightstown, NJ:Longstreet House, 1988.

Coco, Gregory A.  Wasted Valor: The Confederate Dead at Gettysburg.  Gettysburg, PA: Thomas Publishing, 1990.

Cross, Harold A.  They Sleep Beneath the Mockingbird: Mississippi Burial Sites and Biographies of Confederate Generals.  Murfreesboro, TN: Southern Heritage Press, 1994.

Earp, Charles Albert and Peter Lowry Johnston.  These Honored Dead: A Roster of over 2,500 Maryland Union Soldiers Buried in National Cemeteries.  Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 2006.

Gurney, Gene.  Arlington National Cemetery: A Picture Story of America's Most Famous Burial Grounds From the Civil War to President John F. Kennedy's Burial.  New York: Crown Publishers, 1965.

Hughes, Buckner and Nathaniel B. Hughes.  Quiet Places: The Burial Sites of Civil War Generals in Tennessee.  Knoxville: East Tennessee Historical Society, 2001.

Hughes, Mark.  Confederate Cemeteries.  2 Volumes.  Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 2002 & 2003. 

----------.  The Unpublished Roll of Honor Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1996.

MacClosket, Monroe.  Hallowed Ground: Our National Cemeteries.
New York: Richards Rosen Press, Inc., 1968.

Magner, Blake A.  At Peace With Honor: The Civil War Burials of Laurel Hill Cemetery Philadephia, PennsylvaniaCollingswood, NJ: C.W. Historicals, 1987. 

Maryland.  Board of Trustees of the Antietam National Cemetery.       History of Antietam National Cemetery, including a descriptive list of all the loyal soldiers buried therein: together with the ceremonies and address on the occasion of the dedication of the grounds, September, 17th, 1867.  Baltimore: J.W. Woods, Printer, 1869.

Mundie.  James A. Jr.  The Confederate Generals Buried in Louisiana.  New Orleans: The Civil War Round Table of New Orleans, Inc., 1987.

Owen, Richard and James Owen. Generals at Rest: The Grave Sites of the 425 Official Confederate Generals.  Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Pub., 1997.

Smith, Robert E.  Confederate Casualties at First and Second Manassas.  Westminster, MD: Willow Bend Books, 2001.

U.S Quartermaster’s Dept.  Roll of Honor: Names of Soldiers Who Died in defense of the American Union, Interred in National Cemeteries, I-XXII.  Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1994.

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