Yorktown in the Civil War
— Colonial Nat'l Hist Park —
Grave Number 497
On August 31, 1861, Isaac and his brother James enlisted in Company C, 100th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. In early May 1864, Lieutenant Isaac Cornelius submitted his resignation but remained with the army, while his request was processed. At the Battle of Cold Harbor, on June 2, 1864, Isaac was mortally wounded and died four days later. Isaac left widowed his bride of just three months. The Civil War also claimed the lives of three of his brothers.
I passed . . . THE UNION SOLDIER'S BURIAL GROUND . . . laid out in avenues and enclosed with a Virginia rail fence; each grave having a headboard, neatly marked, telling the hero's name, his company and regiment . . . In this lonely resting place on the plains of Yorktown, sleeps many a noble boy, far from his home and kindred, with no kind friend to drop a tear, or sing a funeral requiem.Barthalomew S. DeForest, 1st Lieutenant
81st New York Regiment, 1862
In the spring of 1862, war again scarred Yorktown's landscape as a Union army prepared to besiege Confederate forces holding the town. On the night of May 3-4,1862, in the face of Union siege artillery, Confederate forces withdrew from the area. Yorktown then became a Union garrison for most of the Civil War and provided hospital service to wounded and sick soldiers.
By war's end, the remains of approximately 600 Union soldiers had been buried in this area between the 1781 Allied Siege Lines. In 1866, the cemetery was designated a national cemetery, and Union dead from over 50 field burial sites within 50 miles of Yorktown were re-interred here.
Of the 2,183 burials, two-thirds of the remains are unknown. Only 747 are identified.
Grave Number 351
William Scott is known as the Sleeping Sentinel. In August, 1861, Scott, along with his unit, the 3rd Vermont Regiment, was assigned picket duty near Washington, D.C. On the night of August 31, however, Scott was caught asleep at his post. He was court-martialed and sentenced to death, the first soldier from the Army of the Potomac to face execution. President Abraham Lincoln, however, spared his life. On April 16, 1862, Vermont troops assaulted Confederates at Dam No. 1, south of Williamsburg. William Scott was one of 44 Vermont soldiers killed in the action.