Not many people know how to find graves in Soldiers National Cemetery. Even if you have a plot number, good luck without a map — and good luck finding a helpful map! Oh, wait. You found this Civil War Cycling blog post, so you are all set. This post summarizes why it’s hard even for experienced genealogists to find Union graves like that of Amos Humiston in Soldiers National Cemetery. And better, it points you to step-by-step instructions for finding a grave in Soldiers National Cemetery, given a plot number like “NY Plot B-14.”
First, a Story
On July 1, 1863, the Union 1st and 11th Corps battle lines collapsed. Union soldiers retreated through the town of Gettysburg to high ground south of town, known as Cemetery Hill, where Gen. Oliver O. Howard had positioned artillery earlier in the day.
Among the men who provided covering fire for the retreat was Sgt. Amos Humiston of the 154th New York Infantry. Humiston was part of Col. Charles Coster’s Brigade (in the 2nd Division, 11th Corps). He died in the streets of Gettysburg, near the modern-day fire department at a railroad crossing, and was found by a local girl who removed from his hands an ambrotype portrait of three young children. After a national search to identify the dead solider, Humiston’s wife, Philinda, learned that she was widowed and that her children — Frank, Frederick, and Alice — were now fatherless.
Amos Humiston in Soldiers National Cemetery
Soldiers’ National Cemetery is the burial place of over 3,600 Union soldiers who died from wounds sustained at the Battle of Gettysburg. I had read that Sgt. Amos Humiston was buried in NY Plot B-14. One would think that that is more than enough information to find his grave in the cemetery. After all, there is a cemetery map at the entrance of the cemetery that shows the locations of each state’s graves.
It was not hard to find the New York section. But it was very time consuming to find B-14. Honestly, I cannot really say that on my first visit to Humiston’s grave that I actually found B-14. I walked up and down almost every row (sometimes doubling-back) until I found a stone with this unusually clear marking: “SERGT A. HUMISTON. CO. C. REGT. 154.” Most stones are more cryptic and may not even have a name.
The challenge for a cemetery visitor is that there are no signs or pamphlets that identify section letters (“B”) or gravestone numbers (“14”). Even more surprising, when I scoured the web and many bookstores for a schematic map of Soldiers’ National Cemetery, I found nothing that would help me to identify the physical location of “NY Plot B-14.” Fortunately, though, I found one excellent resource that helped me to figure out what I want to know:
James M. Cole and Rev. Roy E. Frampton, Lincoln and the Human Interest Stories of the Gettysburg National Cemetery (Hanover, PA: The Sheridan Press, 1995).
Find Graves in Soldiers National Cemetery
If you want clear, step-by-step instructions for finding a gravestone — given a plot number — at Soldiers’ National Cemetery, you are in luck! I wrote an article on this very topic. Using “NY Plot B-14” as an example, the article explains how to locate the state section, the row, and the grave marker. We will find the grave of Amos Humiston in Soldiers National Cemetery.
Please see “How to Find Graves in Soldiers National Cemetery,” or click on the following map.