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Chapter 25 - Blandford Church and Cemetery

In 1864 all of the able-bodied men were off to war, and the town’s militia of 125 old men and young boys held off 1,300 Union cavalrymen until reinforcements arrived. They prevented a quick Federal victory, forcing the longest land siege in North American history. A commemorative service was held every June 9 at Blandford Church and Cemetery about a mile northwest of the Crater.

 

The colonial brick church, completed in 1737, sat on the highest hill in Petersburg and was the oldest building in the city.

 

“The church is closed for the day, but you really need to come back to see its Tiffany windows. It has a Tiffany dedicated to every Confederate state except Kentucky.”

 

They motored around to the back of the church and down the hill through the memorial granite arch for the Confederate dead with the inscription on the front Our Confederate Heroes and

 

on the back Awaiting The Reveille. Blandford Cemetery housed approximately 30,000 reinterred Confederate dead, mostly from the Siege of Petersburg, more Confederate graves than anywhere, most unknown.

 

Once past the arch entrance, there were mass graves by southern state on both sides of the road, marked only by two-and-a-half-foot-high rectangular stone pillars etched with the name of the state.

 

Ballard drove the car up Memorial Hill to a bandstand once used for the June 9 ceremonies.

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The pungent smell of boxwoods and cedars sifted through the air as a mockingbird sang. It was a perfectly serene place if you ignored the sound of the traffic on Crater Road and the sight of a cell phone tower rising over the dead.

 

They walked between two elaborate iron fences, surrounding family squares.

 

Blandford was well known for its decorative cast and wrought iron fences,

 

part of the funerary art of the Victorian era.

Blandford Church

Blandford Cemetery