Historic Resource Study for National Cemetery Administration Confederate Cemeteries and Related Sites
The National Cemetery Administration oversees 125 National Cemeteries and 33 soldiers’ lots. Although National Cemeteries and lots were established for Union dead, the Federal government retains jurisdiction over a small number of burial sites that contain the remains of Confederate dead. The CRA team, including Mudpuppy and Waterdog and Ned Crankshaw, ASLA, investigated the history of 9 Confederate cemeteries and 9 National Cemeteries with large numbers of Confederate interments. Despite the relative small size of some of these sites, they have been the backdrop for controversy about the display of the Confederate flag, installing/expanding memorials, and re-interring Confederate remains. The NCA has very little written historical analysis on Federal ownership and how these sites physically evolved. The absence of this information handicaps the development of sound cultural resource management policy and consistent management practices.
The results of CRAs study are being used to develop new, or revise existing, NCA policy about marking graves and installing interpretive signage, and assist with the preservation of historic landscapes and structures. The CRA team’s work resulted in products in five categories designed specifically to address these unique cultural landscapes: 1) an NCA Confederate Historic Resource Study that includes an analytic historical overview of all relevant Confederate burial issues and comprehensive written histories for 18 NCA cemeteries that are completely or partly Confederate burials; 2) National Register of Historic Places nominations for those sites determined eligible; 3) Historic American Landscape Survey (HALS) Reports for each cemetery; 4) landscape management recommendations for each cemetery; and 5) designed interpretive signage appropriate for each cemetery. Drawing upon our expert knowledge of best practices in maintenance, preservation, and interpretation of cultural resources and historic landscapes, we developed practical management recommendations that respected the site’s histories while considering the mission and goals of the NCA today. CRA completed the Base year deliverables, an outline for the historic resource study document, on schedule and at the request of the VA, was able to complete the deliverables for Option Year One ahead of schedule.