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July 24th, 1863, to His Excellency Governor Curtin ; and the Governor, with that profound sympathy and that care and anxiety for the soldier which have always characterized him, approved of the design, and directed a correspondence to be entered into at once by Mr. Wills with the Governors of the other States having soldiers dead on the battle-field of Gettysburg. The Governors of the different States, with great promptness, seconded the project, and the details of the arrangement were subsequently agreed upon. Grounds favorably situated were selected by the agent, and Governor Curtin directed him to purchase them for the State of Pennsylvania, for the specific purpose of the burial of the soldiers who fell in defence of the Union in the Battle of Gettysburg, and that lots in this cemetery should be gratuitously tendered to each State having such dead on the field. The expenses of the removal of the dead, of the laying out, ornamenting, and enclosing the grounds, and erecting a lodge for the keeper, and of constructing a suitable monument to the memory of the dead, to be borne by the several States, and assessed in proportion to their population, as indicated by their representation in Congress. The Governor of Pennsylvania stipulated that the State of Pennsylvania would subsequently keep the grounds in order, and the buildings and fences, in repair.
Seventeen acres of land on Cemetery Hill, at the apex of the triangular line of battle of the Union army, were purchased by Pennsylvania for this purpose. There were stone fences upon these grounds, which had been advantageously used by the infantry. On the elevated portions of the ground many batteries of artillery had been planted, which not only commanded the view of the whole line of battle of the Union army, but were brought to bear almost incessantly, with great effect, upon every position of the Rebel lines. We refer the reader to the excellent map of this battle-field and its hospitals, in the front of this pamphlet. It was prepared by the Rev. Andrew B. Cross, who is one of the most active and zealous members of the Christian Commission, and who labored faithfully for months in the hospitals at Gettysburg, ministering to the temporal and spiritual wants of the wounded and dying soldiers. This map gives the locality of the Na
tional Cemetery, as well as many other points of interest connected with the battle-field.
The cemetery grounds were plotted and laid out, in the original and appropriate style indicated by the plate accompanying this description, by the celebrated rural architect, Mr. William Saunders.
Such was the origin of this final resting-place for the remains of our departed heroes, who nobly laid down their lives a sacrifice on their country's altar, for the sake of Universal Freedom and the preservation of the Union. Who can estimate the importance to us and all posterity of their valor and heroism? Their remains, above all others, deserve the highest honor that a grateful people can bestow on them. Their deeds will live in history long after their bodies have mouldered into dust; and the place where they now lie will be honored, protected, and preserved as a sad, but sacred memento of their brave conduct.
The design contemplates the erection of a monument to the memory of the dead; and the situation which seems to meet with the greatest favor is in the centre of the semicircle of graves. It has been suggested, that each State having dead here should contribute a slab or stone tablet, to be placed in the monument, with the names engraved upon it of those whose graves are not identified, and who consequently are interred in the lots set apart for the unknown.
The grounds are laid off in lots for each State, proportioned in size to the number of marked graves on the Gettysburg battle-field. There is also a lot set apart for the burial of the remains of those who belonged to the regular service. The graves of about one third of the dead were unmarked ; but these bodies are deposited in prominent and honorable positions at each end of the semicircular arrangement of the lots. The grounds naturally have a gradual slope in every direction from the centre of the semicircle to the circumfer
Each lot is laid off in sections, with a space of four feet for a walk between each section. The outer section is lettered A, and so on in alphabetical order. As the observer stands in the centre of the semicircle, facing the circumference, the burials are commenced at the right hand of the section in
each lot, and the graves are numbered from one up numerically. A register is made of the number, name, regiment, and company of the occupant of each grave.
Two feet space is allotted to each, and they are laid with the heads towards the centre of the semicircle. At the head of the graves there is a stone wall, built up from the bottom as a foundation for the headstones, which are to be placed along the whole length of each section, and on which, opposite each grave, will be engraved the name, regiment, and company of the deceased. These headstones will be all alike in size, the design being wholly adapted to a symmetrical order, and one which combines simplicity and durability. No other marks will be permitted to be erected. There will be about twenty-nine hundred burials in the cemetery.
An application was made by Mr. Wills to Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War, for coffins for the interment of the dead, and the Quartermaster-General was promptly ordered to furnish them. The Secretary of War, also, with a liberal considerateness, afforded many facilities for the proper and honorable solemnization of the exercises of the 19th of November. The removals and burials are made with the greatest care, and under the strictest supervision. Every precaution is taken to identify the unmarked graves, and also to prevent the marked graves from losing their identity, by the defacement of the original temporary boards on which the names were written or cut by comrades in arms. The graves be. ing all numbered, the numbers are registered every evening in a record-book, with the name, company, and regiment. This register will designate the graves, should the temporary marks become defaced by the action of the weather, or be otherwise lost, before the permanent headstones are put in place. After the burials are all made, the graves all permanently marked, and the style of monument determined upon, a map will be prepared and lithographed, showing the number of each grave in each section, and a key be published with the map, giving the full inscription on the headstone, corresponding with the number.
A few of the States sent agents to Gettysburg to superintend the removal and burial of their dead, while most of them