The Civil War

Forest Lawn Cemetery, Omaha, Nebraska

Forest Lawn Cemetery, Omaha, Nebraska

Many memorials and commemorative statues were erected to honor the Civil War dead in cemeteries and town squares across America.  These statues most often include the statue of a soldier perched on a pedestal, often with the war dead buried beneath it.

Forest Lawn Cemetery, Omaha, Nebraska

Forest Lawn Cemetery, Omaha, Nebraska

No other war  was like the American Civil War for Americans because every sailor or soldier, every collateral death, every field or railway yard that was destroyed, every city or town devastated by artillery was American.  And, more Americans were killed in the Civil War than any other war that Americans have fought in.

Total American Deaths by War

Civil War                        625,000

World War II                  405,399

World War I                   116,516

Vietnam                            58,151

Korean War                      36,516

Revolutionary War           25,000

War of 1812                      20,000

Mexican American War    13,283

War on Terror                      6,280

Spanish American War       4,196

During the Civil War Americans were fighting against Americans. Brothers against brothers—cousins against cousins, every casualty and every fatality was an American. The war tore the country apart and threatened the existence of the Republic.  Cemeteries throughout the United States pay tribute to the soldiers that fought to preserve the Union, often with special sections where soldiers are buried.

Union Cemetery, Uhrichsville, Ohio

Union Cemetery, Uhrichsville, Ohio

The example of the Civil War Memorial in the Union Cemetery at Uhrichsville, Ohio, is a dramatic example.  It is carved in limestone in the rustic style that was popular in the late 19th Century.  The main element is the large tree-stump in the center of the memorial, which is a symbol of a life cut short.  In this memorial, too, are two soldiers, one who appears to have been wounded.

In addition to that, that memorial features other symbols of interest.


At the base of the tree, lies a broken wagon wheel.   The wheel is broken, the circle is incomplete at the bottom with spokes hanging freely.  The wheel is a metaphor for the circle of life which is broken by death.  Many symbols, like the hanging and broken bud, the broken column, and the broken wheel represent the end of life’s journey.


Also, in the crouch of the tree is a squirrel holding an acorn.  The symbolism behind the squirrel is a bit confusing.  Some sources say that if the squirrel is holding a nut, it is a sign of religious meditation and spiritual striving.  Other sources say that the squirrel is an animal devoted to the devil, noted by its red color; red–the color of Satan.

Note: I first saw the gravestone above on the Website:  Beth Santore, the Webmaster has photographs of hundreds of cemeteries posted on her site.  I highly recommend her Website, especially for those tramping around Ohio graveyards!

This entry was posted in Symbolism. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Civil War

  1. krocksauce says:

    One of my favorites by far.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s