Wilmington Cemetery – Inspection report
This cemetery is located two miles north of the city of Wilmington [actually 1.5 miles east of the then central part of the city; now well within the city limits], in New Hanover County, fronting on a plank road, the west side bordering a mill-pond [actually the east side, on Burnt Mill Creek] and contains five acres. It is nearly a rectangle, and is divided into two equal parts by an avenue from the gateway on the public road, fifteen feet wide. An avenue of the same width surrounds the grounds, within the fence. It is divided into eighty burial plats, by walks four feet in breadth. A mound, sodded, thirty feet in diameter, is in the center of the ground, with a flag-staff. The walks are not graveled. They should either be set out with Bermuda grass, or covered with seashells, which latter can be obtained in abundance at a distance of six miles.
It is inclosed [sic] with a neat paling fence with gateway, whitewashed. A lodge has been erected. A well or cistern is necessary.
The internments number 2,059, of which number 604 white soldiers, 12 sailors, and 71 colored soldiers are known; 12 officers, 1222 white and 138 colored soldiers unknown. [67% unknown] The bodies were removed from the city of Wilmington; from Fort Fisher, 40 miles distant; Fort Johnson, 30 miles distant; from Fayetteville, Cumberland County, 150 miles; and from twelve miles along the Wilmington and Weldon railroad. Twenty states have dead in the cemetery. There are also the bodies of seven Union soldiers and 71 sailors.
The graves are all sodded, and they have been furnished with headboards properly lettered.
The drainage is tolerably good, the fall of the ground toward the mill-pond having been protected by slopes, but more permanent drains will eventually be necessary.
About 190 forest trees were set out, and 110 are growing finely. I have to report the feeling of the community is not favorable to the cemetery, and shrubbery, though abundant, cannot be obtained except at high prices. I was informed that, at one time, it was contemplated to discontinue the public road on which the cemetery fronts [now Market Street], and locating it in a different direction, but I judge the people owning land on this highway prevented the measure, if seriously contemplated. Certain it is that the bridge on the road over the mill-dam is suffered to go to decay. The bridge, however, being more distant from Wilmington than the cemetery, does not affect the travel to the cemetery.
I regret to report that the situation, owing to its location on the borders of a marsh and mill-dam, has proved unhealthy. I found the superintendent suffering from chills and fever.
The cost of the cemetery was $16,315. The disbursements were made by Brevet Major General R.O. Tyler, Deputy Quartermaster General. Matthew Dillingham, a discharged sergeant of Company K, Sixth regiment of Infantry, is the superintendent whose appointment is dated October 31, 1876. He appears attentive to his duties.
Source: “Wilmington National Cemetery;” New Hanover County Public Library, North Carolina Room; Bill Reaves Collection, Subject files; - typed transcription, initial source not cited.
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