By Carla Charter
MANASSAS, VA.-Two Union soldiers from the Civil War who were killed in action at the Second Battle of Bull Run, were given a full military burial at Arlington National Cemetery. These soldiers were the first to be buried in the recent Millennium expansion at the cemetery.
The second battle of Bull Run also known as the second battle of Manassas, occurred from August 28-August 30, 1862 on land that is now part of Manassas National Battlefield Park. The results of the battle were horrific with a total of 1,747 Union soldiers killed, 8,452 were wounded and 4,263 captured/ missing. On the confederate side 1,096 men were killed and 6,202 were wounded.
The remains were found in an amputee pit which is believed to have been near the surgeon’s tent during the battle. This is the first time a surgeon pit has been excavated and studied and the first killed in Action soldiers found in an amputee pit. “It was a terrible battle. and they were hastily buried,” according to Katie Liming, Public Affairs Specialist, National Capital Region, National Park Service.
The National Park Service was doing a utility project and staking out utility lines. “We did an archaeological survey first. Nothing was found at the time. We began construction and an archaeologist observed bone fragments in the soil,” according to Liming.
After the initial discovery of the pit in 2014, National Park experts worked with Douglas Owsley, PhD and Kari Bruwelheide, forensic anthropologists at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History to excavate the site and recover the bodies and limbs. “It was an unprecedented discovery. It helped us learn more about Civil war and medicine in the Civil war it also helped us tell the story of these two men who died on the battlefield,” Liming stated.
Several clues led experts to believe the remains found were those of Union soldiers. One soldier, estimated to be between 25 and 29 years of age was shot in the femur with an Enfield bullet which was almost exclusively used by the Confederate Army. The second soldier who was estimated to be between 30 and 34 years of age, died from Buck and Ball Shot was found with Union buttons on him. Testing revealed that the soldiers had consumed food and water from the Northeast when their bones were forming.
The soldier’s historically accurate wooden coffins were made by the park service staff and volunteers from a downed tree at the Manassas field. The wooden coffins were then placed inside modern Army Coffins for burial.