If you plan to search a cemetery for Civil War veteran's
graves, knowing what clues to look for will conserve
time and make your trip more interesting and rewarding.

We hope you find your visit to this web site useful and informative.

Civil War Monument

When you first enter a cemetery scan the area for a large monument like the one shown
above or any similar type monument. They vary in size and some may even have a cannon
beside them. Usually such a monument is surrounded with numerous military headstones
with rounded tops as shown. Some may have star-shaped or round flag holders next to them.
As the graves sites next to the monument filled up, veterans were buried throughout the
cemetery with the same military headstone, many in family plots.


Before you begin your walk through the cemetery it is helpful if you keep your thoughts in focus with the customs and dates of the era and other things pertinent to a cemetery. To do this we suggest you carry a card which could contain some of the following information:-

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Civil War Union Veteran
Original Issue Headstone

Note the letters within the shield are relief sculptured. The rank of Private was not displayed.
The absence of this rank on the original issue headstone was understood to be that of Private.
Dates of birth or death were also not displayed.

To the left of the headstones is a typical Civil War era Grand Army of the Republic ( GAR )
flag holder in the shape of a star. Inscriptions on the star vary by manufacturer
and often include the number of the veteran's G.A.R. post.

Civil War Union Veteran
Current Issue Headstone

You will note the current issue headstone ( shown here ) has undergone several changes from
the original issue headstone pictured above. The shield and letters are now engraved into the
stone and highlighted in black and the dates of birth and death are displayed if they are known.

Edwin Bigelow was a Captain and his rank was duly displayed as always but current
issue headstones now display the rank of Private, which is a deviation from the past.

Civil War Confederate Veteran
Current Issue Headstone

~ ~ Flag Holders ~ ~

A quick and common method of locating Civil War veteran's graves, in addition to these
distinctive headstones, is to look for flag holders.

The three flag holder emblems shown here are cast and could be made from bronze, iron or aluminum.

A NOTE OF CAUTION: If there are no words on the headstone that positively indicate a
veteran is buried there and if the flag holder does not appear to be permanently installed in concrete
at the grave site, the remote possibility exists that the individual buried there may not be a veteran.

This emblem was the original
design provided by the Grand
Army of the Republic (G.A.R.)

This emblem is a popular current
design for a G.A.R. veteran.

This emblem is generic and
used for any branch of the

Family Headstone
With veteran member listed

This headstone did not have a flag holder but clearly shows that
Frank D. Pease served in Company B of the 1st Michigan Infantry

NOTE: His birth date of 1840 falls within the average age group of the men that served during the Civil War.

Individual headstone

This headstone is also without a flag holder but clearly shows that
David Irish served in Company G of the 8th Michigan Cavalry

NOTE: This example, as did the one above, illustrates that not all veteran's grave
sites have flag holders, therefore if it is your intention to perform a complete
search of the cemetery, it is necessary to check every headstone.

Individual Headstone
With Unit and G.A.R. identification

This headstone displays both the veteran's rank and unit as well as the name
of his Grand Army of the Republic Post. Lucien A. Smith was a 1st Lieutenant
in the 136th New York Infantry and was a member of the Fairbanks Post of the G.A.R.

NOTE: His birth date of 1840 falls within the average age group of the men that served during the Civil War.

Family Headstone
showing severe erosion from exposure to the elements

It is easy to recognize this as the Woodruff family headstone but the date of birth and death
are difficult to read. Unclear engravings are often found on old headstones that have been
exposed to the weather and pollution over time. The date on this headstone appears to be 1808
which would place him in the time period where he could have served in the Civil War.

Family Headstone -- Side View
side of the Woodruff family headstone shown above
which confirms he was a veteran of the Civil War

Here we see the membership badge of a member of the Grand Army of the Republic G.A.R.
which was only open to Civil War veterans. This veteran even went to the extent of having
his post number 48 engraved there also. This picture and the one above illustrate the
importance of looking at all sides of a headstone during your research.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


are monuments or headstones erected
to honor people or groups of people who
are not buried at the site of the cenotaph

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This headstone states this veteran died at Andersonville, a Confederate prison in Georgia.
History confirms that the majority of the veterans that perished there are buried there.
Another clue in this regard are the words
which hints that this headstone is a cenotaph erected in his honor.

This is another example of a headstone that can be assumed to be a cenotaph
because of the fact it clearly states that George H. Peebles died in a Confederate prison.

This cenotaph is in the Waterbury family plot in the West Reading Cemetery in Michigan, and honors
Sergeant Aaron Vale Waterbury
17th Michigan Infantry, Company H

Sgt. Waterbury had just been released from Andersonville Prison and two days later on April 27, 1865
was going home on the Mississippi Steamboat Sultana when it exploded and sank near Memphis.
His body was never found.

The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil
honor all the members of our military who
willingly sacrificed their lives
to guarantee the
freedoms we so cherish as a nation.

Michigan Cemeteries Civil War Veteran Data Base

The Department of Michigan Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War has an aggressive on-going
program to search Michigan cemeteries, locate Civil War veterans graves and register them.
To access and search it, click here.


"Michigan at Gettysburg"
featured in

The Mitten is produced by the staff of Michigan History magazine, which is part of the Michigan Historical Center.
The Michigan Historical Center is part of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries.

The "Identifying Civil War Graves" portion of the overall project resulted in the creation of this web site as an aid for fourth grade teachers and students all across Michigan who are taking part in this Group Field Research Project during 2004. One of their suggested assignments is described as follows:-
"Remembering Those Who Served," the Gettysburg National Military Park has 10 monuments to the 4,000 Michiganians who fought at Gettysburg. However, tributes to those who fought in the Civil War can be found in many Michigan communities. Students will be instructed to contact their local historical society, museum, or cemetery sexton to determine where Civil War veterans in their county are buried. Classes of students will visit their local cemetery and work in groups to search for Civil War memorials and soldiers' graves. Using maps created by the students or provided by the cemetery sexton they will be asked to mark the location of soldiers' graves they find and to try and determine if the soldier buried there might have served at Gettysburg.

The S.U.V.C.W. welcomed the opportunity to be a part of this project. This experience also revealed that our new web pages are currently the only source on the Internet for information of this kind. Therefore we plan to maintain and expand it. In the process we see the field experience the teachers and students will gain from this project as a rare opportunity for us to get professional feedback that will assist us in making this site more useful for others. Please send us your comments, experiences and suggestions to help us achieve this goal.

Austin Blair Camp No. 7 is located in Jackson Michigan and meets locally.

The Camp is very active in Civil War projects and has an Auxiliary that works with the men on many projects.
Additionally the Auxiliary plans numerous activities throughout the year that are both educational and entertaining.

You are always welcome to visit the meetings or join the Camp if you share the Camp's interest in continuing to honor the men who served our country to preserve the Union between 1861 and 1865.

To learn about events, times and location, click here.

Updated October 30, 2009

Your questions and comments are welcome.
Please E-mail
Graves Registration Officer
Charlie Waters

Thanks for stopping by

Bob Griggs
Camp Signals Officer
& Webmaster