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Poplar Grove National Cemetery In July 1862, Congress passed legislation giving the President of the United States the authority to purchase land for the establishment of cemeteries “for the soldiers who shall die in the service of their country.” This legislation effectively began the National Cemetery system. At Petersburg, implementation of this system did not begin until 1866. During the siege, Union soldiers who were killed in battle were hastily buried near where the fighting took place, some in single shallow pits, others in mass graves. Identification was as simple as a name carved on a wooden headboard, if there was time to leave even that. In 1866, Lt. Colonel James Moore began his survey of the Petersburg area to locate land for a National Cemetery. Eventually, a farm just south of the city was chosen. This tract of land had been the campground for the 50th New York Volunteer Engineers. During the war they constructed a gothic-
style, pine log church called Poplar Grove. With the cemetery now established, work began to move approximately 5,000 Union soldiers from nearly 100 separate burial sites around Petersburg. Bodies were moved from nine Virginia counties, reaching as far west as Lynchburg. The burial corps worked for three years until 1869. In that time they reinterred 6,718 remains. Only 2,139 bodies were positively identified. Poplar Grove National Cemetery is located at 8005 Vaughan Road, Petersburg (Dinwiddie County).
Richmond NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD PARK Richmond’s story is not just the tale of one large Civil War battle, nor even one important campaign. Instead, the park’s resources include a naval battle, a key industrial complex, the Confederacy’s largest
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