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.