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Throwback Thursday: National Cemetery System

Throwback Thursday

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — The National Cemetery System was created by Abraham Lincoln in 1862. The creation of the system was for the disposition of Union soldiers in the north. The admission Confederate soldiers was not ratified legally until 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt. Under his administration Roosevelt gave a full pardon to all Confederate soldiers.

In its beginning there were originally 14 burial sites in the country. Currently there are 147; of them one is in Puerto Rico and one in Mexico City because of the Mexican War. These were hallowed grounds that were set up by the United States in order to get decent burial to the military who served in the protection of our nation.

The first burials that took place were within the outer walls of the earthworks of Fort Brown. One of them was Maj. Jacob Brown. That area was the burial ground for active military, and sometimes their spouses for the period of warfare throughout this region. In 1909 the program of centralizing the national cemeteries began. A project was started to exhume the remains in this area, which took about three months. Railway boxcars were used to transport the remains to Pineville, Louisiana.

When Brownsville went through the Mexican War, those casualties were transferred to Pineville after the ratification of the site. Transfers from Fort Polk, which is in Point Isabel, were the original burials that took place in the battle of Palo Alto and they were also transferred here as well.

Lastly there were also border burials in Laredo at Fort Macintosh. All of that whole conglomerate was taken up to Pineville in order to establish what we call the Brownsville sector of the national cemetery.

Abraham Lincoln said in his initial description for the national cemetery was to give the fallen some dignity. They had given their lives for their country, in one form or another. They were laid to rest at a peaceful location and perpetually given an area where their spirits can rest in peace. Brownsville played a heavy role in this, and it put it put a mark in the military throughout a hundred years in its existence.

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