To schedule a burial: Fax all discharge documentation to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-866-900-6417 and follow-up with a phone call to 1-800-535-1117.
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Camp Butler National Cemetery is located in Sangamon County near Riverton, Ill., and occupies a portion of what was the second-largest military training camp in Illinois during the Civil War.
Soon after the firing on Fort Sumter in 1861, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for troops to defend the Union. Each state struggled to fulfill the president’s request but found the available men woefully unprepared for the rigors of war. The obvious solution, to federal officials, was to establish facilities for the receipt and training of war recruits. In 1861, the War Department dispatched General William Tecumseh Sherman to Springfield, Ill., to select a site for a military training camp. Illinois Governor Richard Yates tasked the state treasurer, William Butler, with assisting the general. The men found an ideal location six miles outside of Springfield with a high ground for camping purposes and a lower, more-level area for drills and training, as well as space for a cemetery. General Sherman was pleased with the site and named it Camp Butler to honor his companion.
The first troops arrived at Camp Butler in August 1861 and by the end of the month, 5,000 men occupied the camp. As the war progressed, additional uses were found for the grounds, including a prisoner of war camp. In February 1862, approximately 2,000 Confederate soldiers captured when Fort Donelson was surrendered, arrived at Camp Butler. As the POWs arrived–from all 11 southern states except Florida—they were put to work constructing a stockade and hospital. The hastily constructed barracks were inadequate and poorly constructed. Sanitation facilities were primitive and the daily ration of food often consisted of little more than hard biscuits and a cup of thin coffee. Almost immediately, the POWs began to die at a rapid rate. The heat of the summer combined with the severe winter cold, as well as diseases such as smallpox, typhus and pneumonia, decimated the prisoner population. Roughly 700 POWs died in the smallpox epidemic of summer 1862.
Along with soldiers who fought for both the Union and Confederate sides during the Civil War, veterans who lost their lives in the Spanish-American War, the two World Wars, the Korea War and the Vietnam War are also buried at Camp Butler National Cemetery. Camp Butler was the final resting place of many remains returned from overseas following World War II. Camp Butler National Cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
Monuments and Memorials
The only memorial at Camp Butler is a carillon the American Veterans (AMVETS) donated around 1970 as part of their international living memorial program, which began shortly after World War II.
A monument was erected in December 2005 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and Sons of Confederate Veterans in honor of Confederate soldiers who died at Camp Butler prison camp during the Civil War. The monument is located within the Confederate Section.
A monument honoring the Illinois LST sailors was erected in May 2006.
Blue Star Memorial installed May 19, 2006.
Korean War Veterans Memorial installed May 23, 2006.
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Medal of Honor Recipients
Seaman John H. Catherwood, (Philippine Insurrection), U.S. Navy. Basilan, Philippine Islands, Sept. 24, 1911 (Section F, Grave 1)
Colonel Otis B. Duncan. Colonel Duncan is a Springfield, Ill., native and was the highest ranking African-American officer during World War I. He is buried in Section 3, grave 835.
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Cemetery policies are conspicuously posted and readily visible to the public.
Floral arrangements accompanying the casket or urn at the time of burial will be placed on the completed grave. Natural cut flowers may be placed on graves at any time of the year. They will be removed when they become unsightly or when it becomes necessary to facilitate cemetery operations such as mowing.
Artificial flowers will be permitted on graves during periods when their presence will not interfere with grounds maintenance. As a general rule, artificial flowers are permitted on graves during the period of October 10 through April 15. Potted plants will be allowed on graves 10 days prior to Easter only. These plants must be removed 10 days after Easter. Potted plants will not be allowed at any other time.
Christmas wreaths, grave pillows and other seasonal adornments may be placed on graves from Dec. 1 through Jan. 20. They may not be secured to headstones or markers.
Permanent plantings, statues, vigil lights, breakable objects and similar items are not permitted on the graves. The Department of Veterans Affairs does not permit adornments that are considered offensive, inconsistent with the dignity of the cemetery or considered hazardous to cemetery personnel. For example, items incorporating beads or wires may become entangled in mowers or other equipment and cause injury.
Decorative items removed from graves remain the property of the donor but are under the custodianship of the cemetery. If not retrieved by the donor, they are then governed by the rules for disposal of federal property.
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