Confederate Headstones

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Confederate Headstone History
Union and Confederate Headstones

Confederate Veteran Benefits
Confederate Soldiers Receive VA Headstones

VA Union Headstone.jpg
VA Union Headstone

VA Confederate Headstone.jpg
VA Confederate Headstone

They were Rebels fighting against the United States with the objective of creating an independent nation, so why does the Federal government pay for and maintain Confederate headstones and markers? President William McKinley cited reconciliation between the North and South in a speech that followed the conclusion of the Spanish-American War on December 14, 1898. A number of former Confederate officers had volunteered for service during the war, which had helped secure U.S. victory, McKinley said:

… Every soldier’s grave made during our unfortunate Civil War is a tribute to American valor. And while, when those graves were made, we differed widely about the future of this government, those differences were long ago settled by the arbitrament of arms; and the time has now come, in the evolution of sentiment and feeling under the providence of God, when in the spirit of fraternity we should share with you in the care of the graves of the Confederate soldiers.

The Cordial feeling now happily existing between the North and South prompts this gracious act, and if it needed further justification, it is found in the gallant loyalty to the Union and the flag so conspicuously shown in the year just past by the sons and grandsons of these (Spanish American War veterans).

What a glorious future awaits us if united, wisely, and bravely we face the new problems now pressing upon us, determined to solve them for right and humanity.

That flag has been planted in two hemispheres, and there it remains the symbol of liberty and law, of peace and progress. Who will withdraw from the people over whom it floats its protecting folds? Who will haul it down? Answer me, ye men of the South, who is there in Dixie who will haul it down?


More than forty years after the end of the Civil War, permanent, uniform markers were authorized for the graves of Confederate soldiers buried in national cemeteries. In accordance with an act of March 9, 1906, Congress adopted the same size and material for Confederate headstones as for Union deceased but altered the design to omit the shield and give the stones a pointed rather than rounded top. In 1929 the authorization was extended to graves in private cemeteries. On May 26, 1930, the War Department implemented regulations for Confederate headstones that also authorized the inscription of the Confederate Cross of Honor in a small circle on the front face of the stone above the standard inscription of the soldier's name, rank, company, and regiment.

Federal government says that Confederate and Union Veterans are Equal

Researchers looking for burial locations of Confederate ancestors should check the Register of Confederate Soldiers, Sailors, and Citizens Who Died in Federal Prisons and Military Hospitals in the North, 1861 - 1865 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M918, 1 roll). Completed in 1912, the register shows the location and number of the known grave of each deceased Confederate soldier and sailor and was compiled to assist the effort to mark Confederate graves. Arranged alphabetically by the name of the prison camp or other location where the death occurred, the burial lists generally offer an individual's name, rank, company, regiment or vessel, date of death, and number and location of grave. Some entries do not provide complete information, and many others show other idiosyncrasies. Researchers may consult the microfilmed records in the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., and several of NARA's regional archives.

Headstones and Markers

There are specific styles of upright marble headstones to mark the graves of Civil War Union soldiers and Spanish-American War dead. These historical styles were reintroduced recently and are inscribed in raised lettering inside a recessed shield. These recessed-shield headstones are available in three marble (X) sizes or one granite (Y) size. “A” is 12” wide, 3” thick, and 42” high, ”B” is 13” wide, 3” thick and 42” high, and “C” is 10” wide, 3” thick and 39” high. To request a historical upright marble headstone, check the Upright Marble in block 11 and write “XA”, “XB”, or “XC” above it or to request the granite recessed-shield headstone, check the Upright Granite in block 11 and write “YA” above it.

The inscription on the recessed-shield headstone is limited. For Civil War Union and Spanish American War, a shield is inscribed which encompasses the arched name and abbreviated military organization. Because of the special design and historical uniform significance, no emblem of belief or additional inscription may be inscribed. The dates of birth and death are inscribed below the shield.

A special style is also available to mark the graves of Confederate war dead. These special styles are available in upright marble or granite. To request this special style select the appropriate box in block 11 for upright marble (U) or upright granite (V) and write the words “special style - confederate” in block 11.

Confederate Headstone History
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VA Union and Confederate Headstones

The inscription on the special style for Civil War Confederate is also limited. The Southern Cross of Honor is automatically inscribed at the top. The name is arched, followed by abbreviated military organization and dates of birth and death. No additional items can be inscribed. If a flat marker is desired for a Confederate soldier, the Southern Cross of Honor can be inscribed if requested, or any of the other approved emblems may be inscribed if requested.

For periods of war other than the Civil War or Spanish American War, traditional styles of headstones and markers can also be requested. Traditional styles include upright marble or granite headstones and flat bronze, granite, or marble markers.


What form is required to obtain a Confederate Headstone or Marker? The most current VA FORM 40-1330 is used when processing both Confederate and Union headstones.

Proof of military service prior to World War I requires detailed primary documentation, such as Compiled Military Service Records (CMSR), extracts from official State files, Federal pension documents or land warrants, to be considered for a Government-furnished headstone or marker. Copies of CMSRs and Federal pension records are available through National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D.C. If the applicant is unable to visit NARA, copies of these documents can be ordered via telephone, mail and Internet. CMSRs can be ordered from NARA by the applicant for a fee of $25; the documentation usually ships in 60-90 days. Pension records can be ordered from NARA for a fee of $25 or $75 (depending on whether the applicant requests a partial or complete file) and usually ships in 60-90 days.(The papers provided in a partial pension file will generally contain appropriate information to document military service.) Fees and time periods are subject to change. For current information, refer to NARA website, or

Notes: Fees are subject to change. To order a Civil War era Headstone or Marker (Union or Confederate), use VA FORM 40-1330, which is titled, "CLAIM FOR STANDARD GOVERNMENT HEADSTONE OR MARKER." Ensure that you are using the most current VA FORM 40-1330. For example: FEBRUARY 2014 VA FORM 40-1330. ALL PREVIOUS VERSIONS OF THIS FORM WILL BE OBSOLETE ON OCTOBER 1, 2014.

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