Monday, August 23, 2010

Baton Rouge National Cemetery

The Baton Rouge National Cemetery is located at 220 North 19th Street, Baton Rouge,
Louisiana, in East Baton Rouge Parish, about 1 1/4 miles from the grounds of the state capitol. It is adjacent to the city cemetery. The grounds are rectangular in shape and were originally enclosed by a wooden picket fence. which was replaced with a brick wall constructed in 1878. The entire wall was surfaced with stucco in 1936. The main entrance is located on 19th Street at the center of the west side and is protected by a double iron gate with a pedestrian gate on each side. These gates were constructed in 1933. There are two additional gates, one on Convention Street near the utility building, and a service gate on the east side along 22nd Street, which was constructed in 1952. The lodge is located near the main entrance, and the utility building is situated just south of the lodge. As you enter the cemetery, the flagpole is located across the avenue from the lodge. It is situated on a mound with a six-inch concrete coping laid in octagon shape. Near the center of the cemetery is a rostrum.

The cemetery was established in 1867. Henry W. Taylor, a discharged 1st Sergeant of
Company B. Forty-fifth Regiment of Infantry, was the first superintendent. His appointment was dated June 1, 1868. Graves were originally marked by wooden headboards that were later replaced with upright marble headstones. As of January 31, 1997, there were 5,046 sites used for the interment of 5,362 casket remains and 25 sites used for the interment of 31 cremated remains. The cemetery closed in 1960, except for interments in occupied and reserved graves. As of January 31, 1997, there were 24 gravesites available (22 reserved) for the interment of casket remains and 262 sites available for the interment of cremated remains.
The original superintendent's lodge was a wooden cottage containing three rooms with a
piazza all around and shutters on all windows. This structure was later replaced with a 1 1/2-story brick lodge. The present lodge, constructed in 1931, is a one-story, seven-room stucco structure, with a sun porch and basement. The roof is asphalt shingles and replaced the original slate roof.

The enclosed porch was renovated in 1962. A wall of the same material as the cemetery perimeter wall surrounds the lodge. The brick utility building, containing public restrooms, was constructed in 1932. The original roof was made of asbestos shingles and was replaced circa 1992 with an asphalt shingle roof.

The octagon-shaped rostrum is constructed of iron frame with the lower section made of
brick with a stucco surface. The posts and supporting steps are made of cast iron. with black steel railings. The galvanized iron roof has been removed.
A brick public rest room building with an asbestos shingle roof. constructed in 1939. was
removed in 1952.

There is one commemorative monument in the Baton Rouge National Cemetery:
Massachusetts Monument - A large granite monument erected in 1909 by the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts. In 1908, the legislature authorized the monument in memory of the officers of the 31st and 41st Infantry and the men from Massachusetts who lost their lives in the Department of the Gulf during the Civil War. It was constructed by J. N. White and Sons of first-class Quincy monumental granite at a cost of $5,000. The eagle, Massachusetts seal, etc., are made of bronze.

The monument is inscribed as follows:
MASSACHUSETTS
IN MEMORY OF
THE OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE FEDERAL
ARMY AND NAVY FROM MASSACHUSETTS
WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN THE DEPARTMENT
OF THE GULF DURING THE CIVIL WAR
1861 - 1865
ORGANIZATIONS
THAT SERVED IN THE DEPARTMENT
4TH INFANTRY
26TH INFANTRY 47TH INFANTRY
30TH INFANTRY 48TH INFANTRY
31ST INFANTRY 49TH INFANTRY
38TH INFANTRY 50TH INFANTRY
41ST INFANTRY 52ND INFANTRY
42ND INFANTRY 53RD INFANTRY
2ND LIGHT BATTERY 7TH LIGHT BATTERY
4TH LIGHT BATTERY 12TH LIGHT BATTERY
6TH LIGHT BATTERY 13TH LIGHT BATTERY
15TH LIGHT BATTERY

The numbers shown for contributing resources within the property reflect the following:
Buildings: Lodge, utility building
Sites: Cemetery
Structures: Gates (3), perimeter wall, rostrum
Objects: Flagpole, Massachusetts monument, Bronze plaque affixed to flagpole, plaque in
front of cemetery


NARRATIVE STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
The Baton Rouge National Cemetery is significant under Criterion A and is an important
component of the multiple property submission of Civil War Era National Cemeteries. It is significant
under Criterion A because of its association with the Civil War. The cemetery is also significant
beyond the Civil War era, as it includes the remains of veterans associated with every war and
branch of service who have served their country throughout its history.
The period of significance ends in 1932, the year of construction of the utility building.
In early May 1862, Captain Thomas T. Craven. with seven vessels. was sent to Baton
Rouge to take the capital city. On May 7, 1862. Commander James S. Palmer from Craven's
detachment. proceeded to Baton Rouge aboard the Iroquois and demanded the surrender of the
city. Receiving no satisfactory answer. Palmer landed a force on the morning of the ninth and
claimed possession of the arsenal and barracks. Captain David G. Farragut also moved up to Baton
Rouge.

At Baton Rouge, James B. Kimball, the chief engineer of the Hartford. had dumped his dirty
laundry into a small boat manned by four sailors and started for a house near the wharf to find a
wash woman. As the party neared the shore, about forty guerrillas rushed down the levee and
blasted the boat with buckshot. slightly injuring Kimball and two of the sailors. When Farragut
learned of this, he ordered the Hartford and Kennebec to open fire. Surprisingly, only one woman
was killed, three were wounded, and two drowned while trying to escape. The gunboats continued to
shell the town as long as they thought they could see any trace of the guerrillas. Later, Farragut
assured the citizens, and later the mayor, that unless he were attacked again, he would not fire into
the city. The next morning, May 29. General Thomas Williams arrived in Baton Rouge with his
troops. Farragut requested that he go ashore and protect the lives and property of the loyal citizens.
The guerrillas had threatened to return and destroy Baton Rouge in order to keep the Federal troops
from taking over the city. General Williams landed and took possession of the United States
barracks and set up his artillery. Feeling that Baton Rouge was relatively safe. Farragut left two
gunboats to aid General Williams and departed for New Orleans to obtain supplies. Williams
subsequently left a small force to protect Baton Rouge and left for Vicksburg, Mississippi.
On July 16, Williams was urged by General Butler to return down-river as soon as possible
to blockade Red River and help protect Baton Rouge. He arrived in Baton Rouge on July 26.
Williams was a stickler for petty regulations. In the enervating heat of Baton Rouge, he continued to
hold regular drill and frequent full-dress inspections. More and more men sickened and died. Nearly
half of the entire garrison at Baton Rouge was on the sick list.

When the Federal fleet took leave of Vicksburg, Major General Earl Van Dorn quickly
assumed the offensive and ordered General John G. Breckenridge to lead an expedition to strike at
Baton Rouge. He and his men reached the capital in the early morning of August :. Breckinridge
placed his forces on the left and right side of the Greenwell Springs Road in a single line of battle.
The Confederate troops waited in line for daylight to begin the attack. The citizens of Baton Rouge
had been awakened at dawn by the fire of musketry and the deeper roar of the cannon. As the battle
neared, many persons panicked. Men. women. and children ran to escape the horrors of the
bursting shells, the flying bullets, and the hand-to-hand fighting in the city.

Some three hundred miles above Baton Rouge, the ram Arkansas had completed her
repairs and hastily left Vicksburg to reinforce the Confederate force in its attack on Baton Rouge.
Delays were caused by several stops for repairs. The troops had done all that could be done until
the coming of the Arkansas. Just four miles above Baton Rouge, the ram developed new difficulties
and was tied up to the bank. Enemy gunboats appeared. The last engine trouble proved worse than
expected. and when the enemy gunboats began their cautious approach, the Arkansas could not be
moved. Several shots were exchanged by the two forces with little or no effect. Lieutenant Henry K.
Stevens ordered the crew ashore. set the ship afire. cut the moorings, and set her adrift. When the
flames reached the shot guns they discharged. The fire finally reached the magazine, and the ship
exploded. At four o'clock in the afternoon, Breckenridge learned of the fate of the Arkansas and
abandoned all plans to resume the attack. Around dark he ordered his troops to withdraw to the
Comite River. The following day, they reached the river and went into camp. An outpost was
established at Pratt's far, only five miles from Baton Rouge. but the Confederates were in no danger,
as the enemy did not leave the city.

The battle had lasted only a short time, but the fighting had been severe. The Union had
383 casualties: 84 killed, 266 wounded, and 33 either captured or missing. Confederate losses were
estimated to be 84 killed. 315 wounded, and 57 missing.

For nearly two weeks, the work of building up defenses for Baton Rouge went forward. in
anticipation of a second attack from the Confederates. One third of the town was burned or torn
down so that the gunboats. located above and below town, would have a clean sweep and be able
to converge their fire on the rear and side approaches to the town. Colonel H. E. Paine of the Fourth
Wisconsin assumed command on August 6.

General Butler, who had previously decided to hold Baton Rouge, changed his mind. He
feared that the next Confederate target would be New Orleans and wanted to concentrate his men
there. He ordered Colonel Paine to burn Baton Rouge to the ground. Three days later, he
countermanded his orders and advised Paine to leave Baton Rouge as intact as possible. Butler
also ordered the release of several hundred convicts from the Penitentiary and ordered them to
enlist in the United States army. On August 21. the troops with all their guns, equipment and spoils,
moved down to Carrolton, just above New Orleans. and began strengthening the defenses of Camp
Parapet in anticipation of a Confederate movement against New Orleans.

Two gunboats, the Essex and the No. 7, remained before Baton Rouge and threatened to
shell the entire town if Confederate forces entered. Citizens who had fled before the battle began to
move back into town. Captain David G. Farragut had suggested that Baton Rouge should be
reoccupied without delay. About half the expeditionary force. several thousand men. under Brigadier
General Cuvier Grover was ordered to accompany the Richmond and four of Farragut's gunboats up
to Baton Rouge and to occupy the place. On December 17. 1862, the mission was successfully
accomplished.

The town presented a desolate appearance. Many of the houses had been punctured by
cannon balls. Work was started to clean up the battle debris and strengthen the fortifications. On the
night of December 28. the beautiful Gothic capitol building was set on fire by careless troops
occupying the place. All through the night, the Baton Rouge skyline was lighted up by the bright
flames. Despite the efforts of the Union commander to extinguish the fire, the next morning the
building was a shell with only blackened scorched and windowless walls remaining.
The Battle of Baton Rouge was fought in close proximity to the site on which the Baton
Rouge National Cemetery was established. Some troops were stationed directly behind the
Magnolia Cemetery, which is adjacent to the national cemetery.

A marker of interest is that of General Philemon Thomas. Thomas directed the capture of
Baton Rouge from the Spanish in 1810 and fought in both the Revolutionary War and the War of
1812. At the request of the Mayor of Baton Rouge, his remains were disinterred from an abandoned
cemetery and reentered in the Baton Rouge National Cemetery in 1886. The large flat marker at his
grave in Section 3. is inscribed as follows:
TO THE
MEMORY OF
GEN'L. PHILEMON THOMAS
WHO WAS BORN
IN ORANGE COUNTY, VA.
FEBY. 9TH, 1763
AND DIED
IN BATON ROUGE, LA.
NOV. 18TH 1847
THIS TABLET ERECTED BY
HIS CHILDREN
HE WAS A SOLDIER OF '76' AND OF '14', A MEMBER
OF THE CONVENTION THAT FRAMED THE CONSTITUTION
OF KENTUCKY AND A MEMBER OF HER LEGISLATURE
HE REMOVED TO LOUISIANA IN 1806
COMMANDED THE FORCES WHICH CAPTURED THE
SPANISH FORT AT BATON ROUGE IN 1810. SERVED
MANY YEARS IN THE LEGISLATURE OF LOUISIANA.
AND WAS TWICE ELECTED TO THE CONGRESS OF THE
U.S. THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER, HE WAS CALLED
A PATRIOT AND A GOOD CITIZEN - WE KNOW HIM
TO BE A KIND FATHER AND A FIRM CHRISTIAN.
"SIC TIBI IN TERRA LEVIS"

There is a total of 20 of these large flat markers in Section 3. Many are cracked and much
of the inscription has been worn away by the elements. Some of these markers were placed in other
cemeteries as early as 1830 and the remains, along with the large markers, were moved to the
Baton Rouge National Cemetery circa 1890. The decedents were both adults as well as children of
officers. Removal of a levee by the U. S. Army Engineers necessitated discontinuance of a cemetery
known as the Old Post Cemetery of the Arsenal Grounds.
A cast bronze plaque affixed to the flagpole is inscribed as follows:

UNITED STATES
NATIONAL MILITARY CEMETERY
BATON ROUGE
ESTABLISHED 1867.
INTERMENTS 2936.
KNOWN 2442.
UNKNOWN 494.

In many national cemeteries, such a plaque was affixed to a large monument made of an
original cast iron seacoast artillery tube, secured by a concrete base. Records indicate that there
were two large gun monuments placed in the central avenue of the Baton Rouge National
Cemetery. These monuments were subsequently removed, but the plaque was preserved and
restored.
A plaque in front of the cemetery reads as follows:
NATIONAL
CEMETERY
Federal soldiers killed in
the Battle of Baton Rouge
August 5, 1860.
were buried on this site
which became a
National Cemetery in 1867.
Among soldiers buried here
is General Philemon Thomas
remembered for his
attack on the Spanish fort
at Baton Rouge in 1810,
which established the
West Florida Republic
When the national cemetery was established in 1867, the original burials were of soldiers
who fell on the battlefield near Baton Rouge or died in the hospitals and the remains of Union
soldiers removed from Plaquemine, Louisiana, and Camden Arkansas. There are three Confederate
soldiers buried in the cemetery.

Three former superintendents of the national cemetery are buried here:
Aden & Emma King - Aden was superintendent from 1920-1924. He died during his service as
superintendent, and his wife, Emma, was appointed to the position upon his death. Both are buried
in Section 2 (Graves 3145 and 3145A).

Levi S. Porter - Superintendent from 1932-1934. He is buried in Section 7, Grave 5.
In 1878, when the brick wall was being built around the cemetery to replace the picket
fence. the Government had let a contract to Michael and Bernard Jodd, thought to be from Boston,
Massachusetts. They brought with them a crew of bricklayers and hired local men to carry brick and
mortar. About this time, yellow fever was raging in the south and, before the wall was completed,
both of the Judds contracted the fever and died in September 1878. They are buried in Section 44,
and private headstones mark their graves. The wall was later completed by local men.
The cemetery contains 7.7 acres. The site was formerly owned by Pierre Baron and
Simonna Bareno. from whom the right and title, in fee simple, were purchased by the United States
on October 16, 1868. for the sum of $3.600.00. A small strip of land? ten inches wide, on Dufrocq
Street and one of twenty-four inches on Florida Street were donated to the United States on April
21, 1873, by the City of Baton Rouge.


MAJOR BIBLIOGRAPHICAL REFERENCES
National Cemetery System Microfilm Records
Department of Veterans Affairs Historic Preservation Office
Report of Inspector of the National Cemeteries of the United States for 1869
Report of the Inspector of the National Cemeteries for the years 1870 and 1871
Holt, Dean W. American Military Cemeteries. North Carolina. McFarland and Company, Inc., 1992.
Winters, John D. The Civil War in Louisiana. Louisiana State University Press 1963.


[Photo and summary taken from Louisiana National Register of Historic Places]
Amazon books about - Louisiana Cemeteries

Followers

About Me

My Photo
Networking Louisiana genealogy. This is the Yahoo group managers site. View more about me on My Heritage Our Story Blog Catalog My Facebook Profile