Loudon Park National Cemetery, originally a military cemetery located within the private Loudon Park Cemetery, is located in southwest Baltimore, MD. It was one of the 14 original national cemeteries established under the National Cemetery Act of July 17, 1862.
The first inhabitants arrived in the region during the early 17th century, but the city of Baltimore was not founded until 1729. Due to an excellent harbor, Baltimore became an important port for the export and import of goods, particularly tobacco and grain. It was an important shipbuilding center, especially during the American Revolution and early 1800s when the famous Baltimore Clippers were built here. After the War of 1812, Baltimore experienced a period of dramatic growth due to the construction of the National Road and, later, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. During the Civil War, the city harbored pro-Southern sympathizers. When the 6th Massachusetts Regiment passed through Baltimore on its way south, for example, a mob attacked the Union soldiers. Despite being located less than 100 miles from the nation's capital, no major Civil War battles occurred in Baltimore. However, as a major port city and home of the B&O railroad, it was a key transportation center during the war.
Loudon Park National Cemetery was established in 1862 with most of the original interments coming from Baltimore hospitals, as well as the Relay House and Elkridge Landing. The Relay House was a popular hotel for B&O passengers in the 19th century. Located on the mainline route, Union regiments occupied the town of Relay beginning in May 1861. The Relay House became the headquarters for Union officers and enlisted men stationed in the area to protect the railroad from Confederate saboteurs. Elkridge Landing was another important Maryland transportation center at risk of enemy occupation or destruction during the war. Not only was Elkridge Landing a deep-water port in use since the Colonial period, but the Annapolis & Elkridge Railroad ran through it as a vital link to the B&O, iron mines and furnaces.
Nearby, Fort McHenry served as a prison camp for Confederate soldiers and Southern sympathizers during the war. In summer 1863, the prison became overcrowded after nearly 7,000 POWs from the Battle of Gettysburg were brought there. Although death rates at Fort McHenry were lower than at other Union prison facilities, a number of Confederate soldiers died while imprisoned there and they were buried at Loudon Park National Cemetery.
In addition, approximately 299 remains from the soldiers' lots in Laurel Cemetery, MD were reinterred at Loudon in 1884. A report from the inspector of national cemeteries in 1871 cites 1,789 total interments; among them 139 "Rebel Soldiers, Prisoners of War" who died at Fort McHenry. The original five cemetery acres grew through a series of land acquisitions in 1874, 1875, 1882, 1883 and 1903.
The cemetery is bounded by an iron fence with formal cast-iron gates at the entrance; a two-story folk Victorian lodge was built in the 1890s. Loudon Park National Cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
Monuments and Memorials
The Maryland Sons Monument is among the most historically significant monuments in the National Cemetery Administration. Dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1885, the monument was commissioned by the Loyal Women of Maryland and paid for out of remaining funds donated by the Sanitary Commission, Union Orphan Asylum and Maryland Soldiers' Home. The monument contains a remarkable three-foot-tall terra cotta frieze with a bas relief sculpture replicated from the frieze that adorns the Pension Building (now National Building Museum) in Washington, D.C. In 1884, General Montgomery Meigs, who designed the Pension Building, permitted Colonel Alexander Bliss "to take impressions for the terra-cotta representations from the [frieze] design in the new Pension Office." Caspar Burberl, a Bohemian-born sculptor who immigrated to New York, created the Pension Building frieze. The monument frieze depicts four war scenes: "The General Taking Command of His Forces," "The Battle Scene," "The Wounded After Battle" and "Peace."
The marble Rigby Monument was erected as tribute to Captain James H. Rigby, Battery A, 1st Maryland Light Artillery, by the survivors of his battery, family members and friends in 1891. The battery was attached to the U.S. Volunteer Artillery Reserve, 6th, 12th and 5th Army Corps, which saw action at Gettysburg and other engagements in Maryland and Virginia. Of the 150 original members of the battery, only 50 survived the war.
The marble Unknown Dead Monument is a beautiful, recumbent figure that was erected by the Woman's Relief Corps of the Department of Maryland, Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). It was dedicated on November 28, 1895. The sculpture cost $1,500 and was formed from three pieces of marble; the base marble came from Texas. The sculptor was J. M. Dibuscher.
The granite Maryland Naval Monument was commissioned by the Naval Veterans' Association to honor the 4,162 men who took part in some of the most important naval battles of the Civil War. "On its pedestal there is representation of a captain surmounted by a ship's quartermaster on watch, with a spyglass in his hand." The monument was dedicated on November 26, 1896.
The Confederate Monument, installed about 1912, is also known as the Fort McHenry Monument. It marks the burial place of Confederate soldiers who died while imprisoned in Fort McHenry during the Civil War and were re-interred at Loudon Park National Cemetery in 1895. Although 136 Confederates were buried at the cemetery, only 29 were identified and named on the monument.
The A. W. Dodge Post of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) commissioned the GAR Monument. The marble and bronze structure was dedicated on Memorial Day 1899, in memory of GAR members who died in the Civil War and Spanish-American War.