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Warrenton Virginia Cemetery - Notable Confederate Resting Place

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If you visit Warrenton, Virginia to see the sights, and learn more about the history of the place, one of the stopping points you might want to make is at the Warrenton Cemetery. Last fall, it was given a historical plaque as part of Virginia’s Civil War Trails program. Warrenton played an important role to both the North and the South in the Civil War. While it wasn’t the scene of any major battles, it changed hands at least 67 times during the fighting, often referred to by the name “The Debated Lands.”

As the plaque notes, wounded soldiers were often brought into town for medical attention, and a large number of injured Confederate soldiers were carried by train into Warrenton after the first and second battles of Manassas. Many didn’t survive and were buried in the Cemetery. When Union soldiers held the town during a cold 1863 winter, they used the wooden grave markers from Confederate soldiers graves to keep warm, and the identifies of most of those soldiers were lost.

The identities of most of those soldiers would remain unknown for more than 100 years, until Robert E. Smith from Illinois started a search for a confederate ancestor, Charles Wilburn Smith, in 1982. He spent 14 years searching through hospital records and regimental histories, and came across records from the Warrenton field hospitals that “had been misfiled in the National Archives.” Combined with his previous research, he was able to identify “520 of the 600 soldiers whose remains were buried in Warrenton’s mass grave.”

The Black Horse Chapter # 9 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy worked to create a monument to those soldiers, believing that they deserved a grave maker, and the Wall to Name the Fallen was conceived and built.

If you visit, you won’t see the monument from any of the streets surrounding the cemetery. It was located near the gravemarker of Colonel John S. Mosby, who is one of the most famous soldiers of the Civil War, leading a troop that engaged in guerilla warfare tactics to disrupt Union troop movements through the South. After entering the gate to the cemetery, take the first right. His grave is on the left near the Confederate Memorial.

The Mosby Heritage Area is a section of the Northern Virginia Piedmont where Mosby and his troops were most active, and historians in the area are engaged in helping to preserve the history of the Civil War to help educate (rather than romanticize) places that played such an important role in the region’s history.

Another famous Confederate soldier, William H. F. Payne, is also buried nearby. He entered the war as a private in 1861, and advanced in rankings to Confederate Brigadier General in 1864. He also served as the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Fauquier County for a number of years.

I haven’t written any posts here previously about the Civil War, and Warrenton’s role in it, but it’s hard to ignore the impact of the War upon the area. So I’ll probably write a number of additional posts in the future about how it helped to shape this town and the people in it. I picked up a copy of The Mosby Heritage Area Sampler: A Motoring Tour in the Northern Virginia Countryside at the Warrenton Visitors’ Center this morning, and plan on visiting some of the destinations along that tour.

8 comments to Warrenton Virginia Cemetery – Notable Confederate Resting Place

  • My children and I spent a pleasant afternoon a couple of Sundays wandering through the Warrenton cemetery and noting the many familiar local names on the gravestones; the grounds were resplendent under the flowering cherry trees and dogwood trees; we were especially charmed by the grave adorned by a pink flamingo. Odd as it may sound, the cemetery was a peaceful and enjoyable place to spend a Spring afternoon . . .

  • If you have not already met her, you should make a point of getting to know Julie Broaddus. She has done considerable research on the Civil War and its impact on Fauquier County and will be a wealth of information for you …

  • Hi Yvonne,

    Thanks. There is a lot of history in Warrenton, and in the Cemetary. I’m not surprised that you found it to be a peaceful place. That’s the feeling I’ve gotten walking through it as well.

    I’ve been looking at some pictures of Warrenton recently at the Library of Congress Photographs website, and will probably post some of those here. Seeing Warrenton with Conestoga wagons on the streets is pretty interesting. I haven’t been doing too much research on the Civil War in the area because there seems like there has been a lot of people doing that kind of research, but I probably should have been paying more attention.

  • Ali

    Im trying to find information about my family. I’ve been told that they were buried here, but I can’t find their names anywhere. How do I get in touch with someone from the cemetery??

    Thanks,

    Ali :)

  • Hi Ali,

    Not completely sure who you might ask. I know that the City of Warrenton public works is responsible for maintaining the cemetery. They might be the ones to ask to find out who might be able to tell you that. There’s some contact information on the following page:

    http://warrentonva.gov/Services/PublicWorks.aspx

  • Angie Somerville

    Hello Bill,

    My name is Angie and Im trying to find outby my Grandfather who was buried Nov.17,1978. He is buried in Warrenton, Va. Milatary Cementery. My mom is not quit sure which it is. I am assuming that he was in the Armed Forces or the Arm back in 1940″s. I would greatly appreciate it if there is any way that you can help me I will be so greatful. At the time of my grandfather’s death I was only 7 ears old. My full Grandfathers name is William Burton Throneburg. Please if there is any thing you can do for me please let me know.

  • Dave Allison

    Bill,

    I have recently begun some belated research on my family whose roots go back to Warrenton from at least the early 1800′s. Richard S. Allison of the Warrenton Rifles rests there … as well as 30 other Allisons! Any suggestions on sources or methods to track these roots?

    Richard S. Allison … served with Co. K., 17th VA, CSA
    Robert Lee Allison … Spanish American War in the Philippines
    … and other Allison buried close by in Orleans.

    Some Parr family roots there also but I could not find that name listed there.

    Any suggestions?

  • Lovelle Mortenson

    I am searching for the burial site of my great-great grandfather, Samuel Thomas Brown, who was wounded in the First Battle of Manassas in June, 1861, and died two weeks later. Is it possible to obtain a list of the men listed on the Memorial Wall: To Name the Fallen?

    I will be grateful for any information.

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