Illinois National Guard


 
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    Civil War
     
    A new nation, America was again struggling to find herself and war again found its way to the front porch of the American home. We were a nation at war with itself. Northern brothers were again fighting Southern brothers for the rights of the individual. During the Revolutionary War, we saw a nation where everyone was threatened. This war would only intensify this, and bring the war much closer than before. The Civil War brought new regulation on the handling of the remains of the war dead. Laws were passed to provide every man with a new coffin, clean garments, grave maker, and a death notice sent to the family. Unfortunately, the nature of this war would make this almost impossible. Battles could now be fought over greater distances. Advances in technology resulted in an unprecedented number of dead. This created major problems for recovering the remains of soldiers, often scattered over miles, with armies constantly giving chase to the enemy. While the sentiment regarding the importance of caring for the dead increased, the reality was that it was a step backwards from that ideal.
During the Civil War, over 300 plots of land would be donated for use as cemeteries. In 1862, the War Department issued General Orders #75 and #33. These passed on the responsibility of burial to the commanding officer. He would be responsible for setting aside land near the battlefield for a cemetery to provide burial for those who would be killed in the upcoming battle. Each grave was to be marked with the name or number of the soldier being buried. Without setting aside a designated unit for accomplishing this task, it became impossible. The cemeteries that were established suffered neglect over time. Yearly, the Army came out with updated regulations for the treatment of the war dead. At the end of the war, the regulations stated the deceased would be given an escort based on rank, six men to carry the casket, 3 volleys from the riflemen in the escort, and a flag draped over the coffin. After the burial, the flags would be returned to Army stock.