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Honoring Veterans at NB’s Maplewood Cemetery

by Tom Boltz

The American Legion (local post #539) honors the American Military veterans buried in North Baltimore’s Maplewood every Memorial Day by placing an American flag on their gravesides.

This practice began in the late 19th Century when The Grand Army of the Republic, a Union military veterans’ organization, began commemorating the service of all of their fallen comrades on what was then called Decoration Day. After WW I, the practice was broadened to cover all American military veterans and the name was changed to Memorial Day.

The original Decoration Day was important to the citizens of North Baltimore. During the Civil War (1861-65), thirty men from Henry Township joined the Union Army. Of those who served, nine died in service: one was killed in action; two perished in the Confederate prison in Andersonville, Georgia; and six died of disease. Among the others, three survived being prisoners of war, at least four were wounded in action and several were discharged for disability from wounds or disease, for a total casualty rate of over sixty percent. Later, many of these Civil War veterans and their families became citizens of North Baltimore when it was incorporated in 1876. Many other Union Army veterans moved to the community in the late 19th Century and are also buried in Maplewood.

In 1881, Union veterans residing in North Baltimore founded Sill Post #57 of the Grand Army of the Republic, a Union military veterans’ organization.

John W. Freese is one of the Union Army Veterans buried in Maplewood Cemetery.
In this circa 1900 photograph, GAR members have assembled on North Main Street prior to the annual Decoration Day (now Memorial Day) parade to Maplewood Cemetery.

Anyone wishing to know more about our area’s role in the Civil War can purchase a copy of Tom Boltz’s pamphlet Black Swamp Soldiers: Henry Township Men In The Civil War  at the North Baltimore Historical Center.

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