Kenmore’s last soldier–and one of the last reburials in the National Cemetery


In 1864, Union burial crews interred at least 103 Union dead on the grounds of Kenmore, the elegant plantation home of Fielding Lewis and Betty Washington Lewis–George Washington’s sister. By then, Kenmore amounted only to a handful of acres, and exactly where on the grounds the dead were buried is not entirely clear. But, research by Noel Harrison (we’ll post on this in the future) has confirmed that the famous series of images taken of Fredericksburg burials in May 1864 was taken only a few hundred feet from Kenmore’s back door. It is highly likely that the graves in that series of images (one of which is below) constitute some of the dead recorded to have been buried at Kenmore. 

Donald Pfanz, who has written a book on the creation of the National Cemetery, learned of one more soldier from Kenmore, discovered in 1929.  What follows is derived from his upcoming book:

These May 1864 burials along what is today Winchester Street likely included the 102 men recorded as having been disinterred from Kenmore after the war.

Among the many buildings in Fredericksburg used as field hospitals in May 1864 was “Kenmore,” the 18th century home of Colonel Fielding Lewis. Many soldiers died at field hospitals, and Kenmore was no exception. The Roll of Honor identifies no fewer than 102 soldiers buried on the grounds of the house. Of that number, just one could be identified by war’s end: Private Chauncey I. Dunn of the 19th Maine Volunteers. The remains of Dunn and the other soldiers were taken up and reburied at Fredericksburg National Cemetery immediately after the war (Grave #2050).

Kenmore brought forth an additional grave in 1929. On November 12, workmen at the house uncovered a moldering coffin at the site of the antebellum kitchen. Scattered among the human remains were the coat button, breastplate, and belt buckle of a Union soldier. Concluding that the soldier must have died during the 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg, local citizens made plans to re-inter the soldier at Fredericksburg National Cemetery on December 13, the 67th anniversary of the battle. The army placed the soldier’s remains in a flag-draped casket and carried them to Fredericksburg National Cemetery on a caisson pulled by six horses belonging to Battery F of the 111th Field Artillery. The cortege began at Kenmore and headed east on Lewis Street to Caroline Street, then south on Caroline to Lafayette Boulevard. There the procession turned west and proceeded to the cemetery entrance at the foot of Marye’s Heights.

Delegates from the Kenmore Association, the Bowen-Franklin-Knox Post of the American Legion, the Battlefield Park Memorial Commission, and other organizations followed the caisson in automobiles. Fredericksburg Boy Scouts provided an honor guard for the occasion, while Battlefield Commission members Major-General John L. Clem, Colonel Tenney Ross, and Confederate veteran Vivian Minor Fleming acted as honorary pallbearers.

The procession, December 13, 1929

The same view today.

The interment ceremony was a simple affair. The Reverend Laurence Brent, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, committed the remains to the earth, a male quartet performed a couple of musical selections, and Battery F fired a salute. Reverend Brent then said a prayer over the grave, after which a bugler sounded “Taps” to bring the service to a close. The interment of this unidentified soldier was among the cemetery’s last Civil War interments.

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3 thoughts on “Kenmore’s last soldier–and one of the last reburials in the National Cemetery

    • John – The photo is not from the park collection. I believe Don got a copy from Kenmore. That is the citation for the photo as it appears in Gary Norman’s article “Kenmore’s Last Soldier,” published in the April 1992 edition of Fredericksburg Times Magazine.

      Eric Mink

  1. Our “History Scene” crew did a show, with Noel Harrison, about the sites and the burial photographs in April. We were talking about the differences in identifying the sites today as opposed to 20 years ago.

    Check it out on “www.heritagemediallc.com”, click on “History Scene”, and then click on Show #1.

    Enjoy.

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