Civil War Sesquicentennial

Civil War drummer boy re-enactors

Update, 6/1/2011: For more on the Sesquicentennial celebration that occurred over Memorial Day Weekend 2011, including videos and photos, please click here.

In September of 2002, the Green-Wood Cemetery launched its unprecedented Civil War Project. We knew at the time that Green-Wood was the place to be buried during and after the Civil War. We also knew that it has more Civil War generals (16 Union, 2 Confederate) than any other cemetery except Arlington and West Point. But we didn’t know that, nine years later (almost twice as long as the Civil War itself), we would have identified more than 4,500 Civil War veterans at Green-Wood, including 75 Confederates, have written a biography for each, and have obtained gravestones for more than 2,000 of these veterans who lie in unmarked graves.

Now, as the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War rapidly approaches, we are working on our plans to honor the service and sacrifice of these men. Events are planned throughout Memorial Day weekend. Green-Wood Cemetery will be the place for New York City’s sesquicentennial commemoration of the start of the Civil War.

On Saturday morning, May 14, volunteers will fan out across the cemetery’s 478 acres, placing markers at each of the 4,500 graves of our Civil War veterans. Then, two weeks later, on Sunday, May 29, volunteers will replace each of these flags with a luminary candle. That Sunday night, with all those luminaries lit, re-enactors in uniform will stand as honor guards along the Grand Procession and Civil War musicians — accordions, fiddles, a brass band, and a chorus — will perform Civil War songs across the grounds. Cavalry horses will walk the grounds and artillery guns will fire a salute. Descendants of these veterans, coming from throughout the world, will join the public to walk the grounds in tribute. A Civil War exhibition in our Historic Chapel, featuring artifacts primarily drawn from our Historic Fund collections, will open on Saturday, May 28, and will run through June 12. And, the updated third edition of our illustrated biographical dictionary on CD, with hundreds of portrait/photographs, will be issued.

Then, on Monday, Memorial Day, we will hold our March of Honor out to our Civil War Soldiers’ Lot, where 127 Civil War veterans, many of whom shed their blood at Antietam, Shiloh, Gettysburg, and other battlefields, are buried. There descendants will read the names of many of the men for whom Green-Wood is the “final camping ground.” Re-enactors and a Civil War artillery battery will fire salutes. We will then hold our 13th annual Memorial Day Concert, which will feature music from the Civil War.

We do hope you will join us on the Sunday evening and Monday of Memorial Day weekend. But, if you would like to do more to honor the sacrifice of these men and their service to their country, please sign up here to become a volunteer or email Jeff Richman, our cemetery historian, at

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.