one of the first Civil War monuments constructed in Virginia honored Union soldiers who fought at Second Manassas
Source: Harper's pictorial history of the Civil War, Pope's Campaign in Virginia (p.389)
Virginia is covered in military monuments. Over 200 commemorate Confederates, but there are some which honor Union men or units as well.1
The first monuments to honor Union forces in Virginia were stone pyramids erected on the site of the First Battle of Manassas and the Second Battle of Manassas, known in the northern states as the First and Second Battle of Bull Run. The pyramids were constructed of local Triassic sandstone, and were decorated with shells and cannonballs. Plaques dedicated the monuments "to the patriots who fell," in recognition of over 10,000 Union casualties in the two battles.
The pyramids at Henry Hill (for First Manassas) and Deep Cut (for Second Manassas) were dedicated on June 10, 1865, after all Confederate forces had surrendered.2
Union-built monument at Manassas Battlefield
Source: Library of Congress, Monument on battlefield of Bull Run
At the end of the Civil War, Union Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs designed a monument to the unknown Union and Confederate dead. He placed it on the grounds of Arlington House, which was owned by Robert E. Lee's wife. Meigs had chosen that plantation to be a new cemetery in 1864. By burying people next to Mrs. Lee's rose garden, he ensured the Lee family would never be able to return and sit on the porch to enjoy the view of the Potomac River and Washington DC.
The remains of 2,111 unidentified soldiers were collected from the battlefields around Manassas and the Rappahannock River. Some were excavated from shallow battlefield graves; many were just partial remains from bodies that were never buried. They were placed in a 20' deep pit with skulls, legs, arms, and ribs in separate sections.
A granite sarcophagus was placed on top before the site was dedicated in September 1866, in recognition that half of the war dead throughout the Civil War were also unknown. The initial Decoration Day ceremonies held at the monument honored just the Union dead.
In 1884, a Temple of Fame was built next to the Tomb of the Civil War Unknowns. A year later, names of Union Civil War leaders were engraved on the Temple of Fame, while new garden walks were constructed around the Tomb of the Civil War Unknowns. It was later upgraded with a fancier lid and a higher base.3
an Arlington Cemetery monument to honor the Civil War dead, dedicated in 1866, included unidentified remains from both Union and Confederate soldiers
Source: Library of Congress, Civil War Unknowns monument (c. 1866)
The 1,800-bed Union hospital at Fort Monroe during the Civil War benefitted from the service of women nurses, which were overseen by Dorothea Dix from 1861-1863. She led the effort in 1868 to build a 65-foot high granite obelisk on top of a 20-foot high base in the Hampton National Cemetery, where many of those who died at the Fort Monroe hospital were buried. Inscribed on it are the words:4
In Surry County, a land speculator from Delaware purchased much of the Claremont Manor estate in 1879-82. He sold tracts to people living in northern and midwestern states, attracting new settlers to the "Claremont Colony." The immigrants from north of the Potomac River had been supporters of the Union during the Civil War, and even established a chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic. In the local cemetery, they erected a monument with the words:5
In 1873, city officials in Norfolk created a cemetery for burial of African Americans. A 10-foot high brick wall separated it from the adjacent Elmwood Cemetery, used for graves of white people.
James E. Fuller, who served on the Norfolk Common Council between 1881-1889, got the new site renamed from "Potters Field" (and briefly "Calvary Cemetery") to West Point Cemetery. In 1886, the city dedicated a section of the cemetery for burial of African Americans who had served as Union Civil War soldiers and sailors, with space for a monument honoring them.
The base of the monument was completed in 1906, but there was not enough funding for a statue until 14 years later. In 1920, after 35 years of fundraising, a life-size bronze statue of a black Union soldier was erected. It was located next to 58 headstones of Union veterans, which are aligned in three rows within Section 20. They are a small percentage of the 1,200 men of color from Hampton Roads who served in the Union Army; most black veterans were buried elsewhere.
The model for the statue was Sergeant William H. Carney of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment, a native of Norfolk. He may be the first of 16 black men awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, recognizing his valor in grabbing the regiment's flag during the assault on Fort Wagner when the color sergeant of the 54th Massachusetts was wounded. Sergeant Carney was then wounded four times, but proudly told his fellow soldiers who carried him to safety:6
In 1907, residents of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania funded construction of a monument in Petersburg honoring the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment. That unit, composed of coal miners, dug the tunnel and ventilation shaft used to initiate the Battle of the Crater. The monument is a statue of Col. George W. Gowen, who was briefly the regiment's commander after the battle, standing on a 20-foot tall granite base. Col. Gowen was killed at the spot where the statue was placed, as the regiment captured Fort Mahone on April 2, 1865.
Both Confederate and Union veterans attended the dedication in 1907. Governor Edwin Stuart of Pennsylvania and Governor Claude Swanson of Virginia attended the event as well. General Bolling, head of the A.P. Hill Camp of Confederate Veterans who had surrendered at Appomattox, said at the dedication:7
Governor Swanson assured the Pennsylvanians that the monument to a Union regiment located in Petersburg, Virginia would not be vandalized:8
Nearby in Petersburg National Battlefield, a memorial stone honors the US Colored Troops who served in the Union Army during the siege of Petersburg. The stone was placed where the troops made their first large-scale attack on June 15, 1864, in which they captured Confederate Battery Number 9. Later, the XXV (25th) Corps was organized to include exclusively US Colored Troops. The XXV Corps was sent to Texas after the Civil War, and disbanded two years later.9
Around 1916, a monument to the 25th Army Corps was placed in Lincoln Cemetery, an African-American cemetery in Portsmouth. The stone obelisk was erected by a local post of the Grand Army of the Republic.10
Another monument to a Union soldier was erected in 1925, north of Richmond.
On June 1, 1864, Charles Storke was in the 36th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry when he was captured in Hanover County. He was sent to Libby Prison in Richmond, then transferred to Andersonville Prison in Georgia. At the end of the war, he weighed ony 95 pounds.
He ended up as a wealthy newspaper owner and mayor of Santa Barbara, California. In 1924, he bought land near where he had been captured and built a monument of polished Vermont granite. It honors the 137 men of companies B, E, F and G of the 36th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry who were killed, wounded, or captured with Charles Storke.
Storke donated the land and monument to Hanover County in 1925. He said at the time:11
In 2016, Norfolk named a local quarter-acre pocket park at the corner of Duke and York streets after Union Admiral David Farragut.
Farragut's first wife was a native of Norfolk. After she died, he married another woman from the same city. He was living in Norfolk at the start of the Civil War. He and his second wife left on April 18, 1861, after a convention in Richmond approved an ordinance of secession.
Captain Farragut commanded the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron during the Civil War. He led the successful Union assault into Mobile Bay, during which he uttered the famous phrase "Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!" He was later promoted to become the Navy's first full admiral.12
In 2021, a new monument was dedicated near Ebenezer Baptist Church at Maddensville in Culpeper County. It commemorated three soldiers of the 27th United States Colored Troops (USCT) Regiment, which was organized in Ohio. The regiment crossed the Rappahannock River as the Union Army began the Overland Campaign in May, 1864. The three black soldiers were captured by the 9th Virginia Cavalry and then executed.
The prime mover to create the monument noted:13
United States Colored Troops (USCT) soldiers are honored by a few monuments in Virginia
Source: Library of Congress, Dutch Gap, Virginia. Picket station of Colored troops near Dutch Gap canal
In 2021, a former member of the Northampton County Board of Supervisors led an effort to build a new monument on the Eastern Shore honoring Union soldiers. The leader's grandfather had been born enslaved, and had enlisted in the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War.
After the United States Congress was forced to flee a mob that invaded the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, the Northampton Board of Supervisors voted to move the Confederate monument in Eastville. The Union Soldier Monument Advisory and Implementation Committee proposed a new monument very near the location of that monument, with the names of 2,300 Union and Confederate soldiers and sailors from the Eastern Shore. Because Union forces controlled the Eastern Shore by the end of 1861, the Confederate supporters had to flee and enlist in regiments from other locations.
On the Eastern Shore, white soldiers in the 1st Regiment Loyal Eastern Virginia Volunteers supported the Union. The vast majority of Union soldiers from the peninsula, 88% of them, were black men who joined the 7th, 9th and 10th United States Colored Troops when they were organized in 1863.14
One site in Virginia has special significance for the US Colored Troops (USCT) that fought for the Union cause. In 2022 the Capital Region Land Conservancy sought to protect the land where the Battle of New Market Heights was fought on September 29, 1864. Three brigades of US Colored Troops, about 3,800 men, were tasked with crossing Four Mile Creek and breaking through the Confederate defense line east of Richmond at New Market Road. Other Union forces attacked Fort Harrison.
the Battle of New Market Heights was part of an attack on the eastern edge of the Confederate defense line around Richmond in September, 1864
Source: Richmond National Battlefield Park, Park Map of every site in the Richmond National Battlefield Park system
Union General Benjamin Butler designed the attacks to evaluate if the US Colored Troops would be efective fighters, after poor leadership at the Battle of the Crater had led to a slaughter of the US Colored Troops in that engagement. Their succcess in capturing New Market Heights that day demonstrated their capacity and particularly their courage.
the prominent role of US Colored Troops at the Battle of New Market Heights makes that site distinctive in Virginia
Source: US Army, A History of African American Regiments in the U.S. Army
General Butler sought public recognition by nominating members of the US Colored Troops for the Medal of Honor, which had been created by the US Congress in 1862 to honor bravery on the battlefield. The War Department approved granting the Medal of Honor to 14 men. During the Civil War, the Medal of Honor was granted to 1,520 men and one woman. Though 10% of all the Union soldiers were black, just 1% of the recipients of the Medal of Honor were black. Of the 21 black soldiers and sailors to earn the Medal of Honor, 14 were at the Battle of New Market Heights.
In 2022, developers abandoned plans to build a 650-home subdivision known as The Ridings on 420 acres, about half of which was associated with the Battle of New Market Heights. That created the opportunity for public acquisition of the property. The Capital Region Land Conservancy highlighted why preservation of yet another Civil War battlefield was justified in 2022:15
the First Manassas battlefield became a place for remembering Union soldiers at a place where they were defeated by the Army of Northern Virginia
Source: Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War, Pope's Campaign in Virginia (p.391)