Posted by Crista Cowan on November 9, 2012 in Collections

During the Civil War fallen soldiers were often buried quickly, in the most convenient spot as battles continued and troops moved on.  Following the Civil War, many interred in these makeshift resting grounds, in the Mississippi Delta region, were moved to Memphis to be re-interred in a “designated field.”  Thus, most of the earliest burials at the Memphis National Cemetery are reinterments rather than original burials.  Sadly, the identities of many of these soldiers remain a mystery, like this entire list of UNKNOWN soldiers re-interred here from “a cotton field east of Horn Lake Road, one mile south of M&Tenn Railroad Depot.”

Many, however, are known, remembered, and honored for their service. French-born Henry Falcott enlisted in San Francisco shortly after immigrating to the United States. He served in the 8th U.S. Cavalry during the Apache Wars and received the Medal of Honor. Henry is buried in the San Antonio National Cemetery.  The first burial in the Los Angeles National Cemetery took place in 1889.  Abner Pratt, veteran of the Mexican-American war, also served in the Indiana Infantry during the Civil War. Like Nicholas Porter Earp (father of Wyatt Earp), Abner was living at the National Soldiers Home for Disabled Soldiers and Sailors when he died.

Memphis. San Antonio.  Los Angeles. These three cemeteries, and dozens of others are the final resting place for thousands of soldiers.  And the records of these burials, along with details about their military service are contained in burial registers.

From the 1860s until the mid-20th century, in some places, U.S. Army personnel tracked burials at national cemeteries and military posts in registers that included name, rank, company/regiment, date and cause of death, age, grave number, and original place of burial in the case of reinterments. The U.S. Army was responsible for all national cemeteries from the 1860s until the early 1930s, and they were responsible for depositing most burial registers at NARA.  In 1973, the Army transferred 82 national cemeteries to what is now VA, where the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) oversees them.

With more than 500,000 individuals listed in the records, these ledgers are one of two new collections, U.S. Burial Registers, Military Posts and National Cemeteries, 1862–1960 and U.S. Headstone Applications, 1925–1963. Both are now available for searching in time for Veterans Day 2012.

As we head into this Veterans Day weekend, may we all take a little time to remember, honor and thank our family members and others who have served in the armed forces, defending the freedoms we enjoy every day.

Crista Cowan

Crista has been doing genealogy since she was a child. She has been employed at since 2004. Around here she's known as The Barefoot Genealogist. Google Twitter


  1. Kay OLeary

    Thank you for this article.I have been looking for some military records that haven’t been released. Since the records are not 50 years old yet, I’m looking for obituary and family history.

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