"Here where they fell,
Oft shall the widow's tear be shed,
Oft shall fond parents mourn their dead;
The orphan here shall kneel and weep..."
Hymn by Benjamin B. French
Sung at cemetery dedication
November 19, 1863
Soldiers' National Cemetery contains the graves of more than 6,000 United States servicemen, including 3,580 Union soldiers killed in the Civil War. Nearly half of the Civil War burials are unknown soldiers.
A few days after the battle, Andrew Curtin, Governor of Pennsylvania, visited Gettysburg and was deeply moved by what he saw. Bodies of soldiers had been hurriedly buried on the battlefield, and some had not been buried at all. Curtin and representatives of Northern states took steps to create a national cemetery. Beginning in October 1863, bodies were carefully removed from the field and re-interred here. The work took five months.
On November 19, 1863, before the burials were completed, government officials, battle veterans, and citizens assembled to dedicate the cemetery. Near the end of the ceremonies, the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, offered a few remarks - his Gettysburg Address.
Where was Lincoln?
President Abraham Lincoln was standing on a platform near the site of the Soldiers' National Monument when he delivered the famed Gettysburg Address.