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Volume 77/78 (2013)

Living Memorials to the Civil War Dead: Case Studies in the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia

August 12, 2014


As America’s Civil War laid claim to hundreds of thousands lives, it also transformed large swaths of bucolic countryside into cemeteries and memorials. This comparative study of two battlefield-located Civil War cemeteries, Battleground National Cemetery and Ball’s Bluff National Cemetery, examines the influence of natural and political forces on the aesthetics of the original sites. I argue that the land and objects on these sites function together as purveyors of specific narratives on the meaning of the war—narratives which vary dramatically based on the geographical location of the site within the Confederate–Union binary.