In honor of Memorial Day, the 1869 Whitman Report on Cemeteries is on display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building from May 22 through June 5. 
Memorial Day traditions began in the aftermath of the Civil War. The American people were just beginning what historian Drew Gilpin Faust called “the work of death.”
An estimated 750,000 soldiers died between 1861 and 1865—about 2.5 percent of the population. Never before or since has war resulted in so many American casualties. The task of locating, identifying, burying, and mourning the dead was overwhelming.
Walt Whitman wrote of the nation’s shared suffering in his epic 1865 poem, When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d:
I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them, And the white skeletons of young men, I saw them, I saw the debris and debris of all the slain soldiers of the war, But I saw they were not as was thought, They themselves were fully at rest, they suffer’d not, The living remain’d and suffer’d, the mother suffer’d, And the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffer’d, And the armies that remain’d suffer’d.
In his Personal Memoirs, Ulysses S. Grant described an open field after the 1862 Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee. He said it was “so covered with dead that it would have been possible to walk across the clearing, in any direction, stepping only on dead bodies.” The proper burial of these and other Union soldiers took years and an expansion of the Federal Government to complete.
Edmund B. Whitman of the U.S. Army’s Quartermaster Corps led one of the crews charged with converting temporary graveyards into permanent national cemeteries. Over four years beginning in March 1865, Whitman’s men located, disinterred, and reburied almost 115,000 bodies. In his Final Report, now on display, he included drawings of Shiloh and several other new national cemeteries.

In honor of Memorial Day, the 1869 Whitman Report on Cemeteries is on display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building from May 22 through June 5.

Memorial Day traditions began in the aftermath of the Civil War. The American people were just beginning what historian Drew Gilpin Faust called “the work of death.”

An estimated 750,000 soldiers died between 1861 and 1865—about 2.5 percent of the population. Never before or since has war resulted in so many American casualties. The task of locating, identifying, burying, and mourning the dead was overwhelming.

Walt Whitman wrote of the nation’s shared suffering in his epic 1865 poem, When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d:

I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them,
And the white skeletons of young men, I saw them,
I saw the debris and debris of all the slain soldiers of the war,
But I saw they were not as was thought,
They themselves were fully at rest, they suffer’d not,
The living remain’d and suffer’d, the mother suffer’d,
And the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffer’d,
And the armies that remain’d suffer’d.

In his Personal Memoirs, Ulysses S. Grant described an open field after the 1862 Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee. He said it was “so covered with dead that it would have been possible to walk across the clearing, in any direction, stepping only on dead bodies.” The proper burial of these and other Union soldiers took years and an expansion of the Federal Government to complete.

Edmund B. Whitman of the U.S. Army’s Quartermaster Corps led one of the crews charged with converting temporary graveyards into permanent national cemeteries. Over four years beginning in March 1865, Whitman’s men located, disinterred, and reburied almost 115,000 bodies. In his Final Report, now on display, he included drawings of Shiloh and several other new national cemeteries.

We’re screening the final film in our Spielberg Film Festival tonight! Join us tonight, November 18, at 7 p.m. Tickets are free and distributed an hour before the screening. For details on the award, go here.
President Lincoln picked Ulysses Grant in March 1864 to be Lieutenant General of the U.S. Army, making him commander of all Union forces.
In June of that year, Grant set out to capture Petersburg, Virginia, the hub of a railroad system that carried food and supplies to the Confederate capital city of Richmond and to Gen. Robert E. Lee’s army. Although the Union’s initial assaults failed to capture the city, they did sever some of these railroad lines. By July both Confederate and Union forces had dug in for a long, slow battle of attrition.
In August 1864, Grant protested a proposal that some of his troops be removed from Petersburg, arguing that it would weaken his hold on the city. The President agreed and sent this message to Grant offering words of encouragement.
“Hold on with a bull-dog grip, and chew & choke, as much as possible,” wrote the President.
Steven Spielberg is being honored by the Foundation for the National Archives for his film legacy, which has brought history to life on the big screen. The National Archives is celebrating the award with a film festival.

We’re screening the final film in our Spielberg Film Festival tonight! Join us tonight, November 18, at 7 p.m. Tickets are free and distributed an hour before the screening. For details on the award, go here.

President Lincoln picked Ulysses Grant in March 1864 to be Lieutenant General of the U.S. Army, making him commander of all Union forces.

In June of that year, Grant set out to capture Petersburg, Virginia, the hub of a railroad system that carried food and supplies to the Confederate capital city of Richmond and to Gen. Robert E. Lee’s army. Although the Union’s initial assaults failed to capture the city, they did sever some of these railroad lines. By July both Confederate and Union forces had dug in for a long, slow battle of attrition.

In August 1864, Grant protested a proposal that some of his troops be removed from Petersburg, arguing that it would weaken his hold on the city. The President agreed and sent this message to Grant offering words of encouragement.

“Hold on with a bull-dog grip, and chew & choke, as much as possible,” wrote the President.

Steven Spielberg is being honored by the Foundation for the National Archives for his film legacy, which has brought history to life on the big screen. The National Archives is celebrating the award with a film festival.

In the middle of the Civil War, General Grant ordered the expulsion of all Jews from the territory under his command. This action had a ripple effect on Grant’s political career, the burgeoning Jewish-American community, and the stage of the American political process. Jonathan Sarna discusses this notorious anti-Jewish order and his new book When General Grant Expelled the Jews this Thursday at 7 p.m.

In the middle of the Civil War, General Grant ordered the expulsion of all Jews from the territory under his command. This action had a ripple effect on Grant’s political career, the burgeoning Jewish-American community, and the stage of the American political process. Jonathan Sarna discusses this notorious anti-Jewish order and his new book When General Grant Expelled the Jews this Thursday at 7 p.m.