Freedmen’s Cemetery

Note: I added and wrote the wikipedia page, so it is very similar but not plagiarized.

Freedmen’s Cemetery was a cemetery in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana open for burials from 1867 to 1876. Today, there is a plaque to note where the cemetery once stood

The adjacent Chalmette National Cemetery, then Monument Cemetery, was established in 1864 to bury Union soldiers. The cemetery was also burying those who died in the refugee camps and hospitals within Union lines. Within two years, they realized they would quickly run out of space as the civilian burials were outpacing the soldier burials and they were expecting more re-interments from nearby forts and battlegrounds.

The Freedmen’s Bureau, formally the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, was established in 1865 as a US government agency to help people with the transition from being enslaved to free. The agency faced many obstacles, notably the Black Codes, but they did what they could. In 1867, they started re-interring over 4,000 people to the new area.

New burials were mainly from the Freedmen’s Hospital. The cemetery was well maintained and new burials were marked with wooden headboards. There are approximately 716 burials from 1867 to 1869 and most of the names and causes of death were recorded. The original records exist at the National Archive. I have transcribed the names of the new burials and added them to find-a-grave.

In 1869, Freedmen’s Hospital was shuttered and by 1872 the entire agency was disabled. By 1873, a memo from the Quartermaster’s Office noted the cemetery was abandoned. The national cemetery had no desire to acquire or maintain the property and erected a brick wall to separate the cemeteries. The land was then owned by the city of New Orleans and was sold in 1875 for the Archicultural & Mechanical College. The Chairman of the Board of the college made attempts to have the national cemetery take over the cemetery as he saw evidence of U.S. Colored Troops buried there and could still see some markers, but no movement was made by the federal government.

Today, the cemetery is within the Chalmette Battlefield, which is part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. There has been ground penetrating radar studies done, but the results are inconclusive due to the depth of the bodies. The river levee was only knee-high, so the river would flood often making more dirt on top of the existing soil.

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