Green-Wood Cemetery came ‘alive’ for Memorial Day and Civil War

Green-Wood Cemetery came ‘alive’ for Memorial Day and Civil War
Volunteers played the roles of Confederates (right) and Union soldiers during Green-Wood Cemetery’s Memorial Weekend festivities, which commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
Photo by Tom Callan

History buffs were in all their glory this weekend at Green-Wood Cemetery, as the Sunset Park boneyard hosted festivities to commemorate both Memorial Day and the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

On Sunday night, Civil War re-enactors and cavalry horses marched through the 173-year-old cemetery to the tunes of 19th-century military songs. The procession visited the graves of some of Green-Wood’s 4,500 Civil War veterans, all of which were illuminated by candles (even though some of them are Confederates!).

The next day, hundreds joined the march to the Civil War Soldiers’ Lot, where more than 127 vets are buried. About 25 descendants attended the event to pay tribute to their ancestors, many of whom fought in famous battles such as Shiloh and Gettysburg. They announced the names of their deceased relatives and shared the war stories they had heard.

As night fell, Memorial Day candles honored the dead at Green-Wood Cemetery.
Photo by Tom Callan

“History came alive at Green-Wood with all the personal stories,” said cemetery historian Jeff Richman.

Green-Wood also opened its multi-media exhibit “Honoring Their Sacrifice,” which displays Civil War artifacts like cannons and letters.

“This weekend’s commemorations help keep alive the legacy of so many who may be long gone, but will never be forgotten,” said Green-Wood President Richard Moylan

Green-Wood Cemetery commemorated both Memorial Day and the 150th anniversary of the Civil War over the weekend. The cemetery is the final resting place for 4,500 Civil War veterans.
Photo by Tom Callan

The celebration concluded with a performance by the ISO Symphonic Band, a Brooklyn-based orchestra that performed Civil War-era songs.

Green-Wood opened in 1838 and became one of the most popular places to be buried during and after the Civil War. The thousands of Civil War service members with Green-Wood graves include 18 generals, more than any other cemetery in the country except Arlington and West Point.

“Honoring their Sacrifice” continues at Green-Wood Cemetery’s Historic Chapel [Fifth Avenue at 25th Street in Sunset Park, (718) 768-7300] through June 12. Hours: weekdays, noon-4 pm; weekends, 11 am-6 pm. For info, visit www.green-wood.com.

The 173-year-old Green-Wood Cemetery is home to more than 4,500 graves of Civil War veterans, including Gen. James McLeer, the great, great grandfather of Sheepshead Bay resident Kenneth McLeer. Gen. McLeer was with the New York 14th Regiment and fought at the Battle of Bull Run.
Photo by Tom Callan

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