The assumption that soldiers that died of disease would be better accounted for as it relates to their burial site would be incorrect. For example, 155 UNKNOWN Confederate soldiers are buried in the Silverdale Cemetery about 11 miles from the center of present day Chattanooga. These soldiers died of disease in the fall of 1862 in the General hospitals in and around Chattanooga. Below are two links for background. The first is the effort being made to identify the UNKNOWN and what they are doing about it. I don’t particularly agree with the markers because it will give later generations the impression of that underneath is the final resting place of the soldier. Personally, I believe it needs to be a monument off to the side with lists of the soldiers but nevertheless it is a start. The second link is about both of the cemeteries in Chattanooga and academic background on them.
Another resource for you to read sometime is “Headstones of Heroes: The Restoration and History of Confederate Graves in Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery” by Dr. Robert E. Zaworski. The book shows the challenges faced by the hospitals, various wartime and post-bellum organizations, multiple lists, deterioration due to time and material of markers, etc.
Another consideration is that tens of thousands of soldiers were killed outside the standard well known battlefields (Manassas, Sharpsburg, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Cold Harbor, etc) that are commonly talked about in the history books and due to accidents. The first example I can give you is a battle that took place at Philadelphia, Tennessee in October 1863 where two Confederate cavalry brigades engaged a Federal cavalry brigade. Soldiers on both sides were killed and wounded. Some Confederate soldiers were buried where they fell and some Federals were later removed and interred in Knoxville, Tennessee. There are only a couple places in obscure history books where you will see this “affair” mentioned. Another example were soldiers that were killed by accident and especially if they were on the march. I know of one instant that a soldier was putting gunpowder into a canteen and set it off and the result was several dead soldiers to include himself. Train accidents happened repeatedly and from all the incidents I have ever read about the dead were buried where the accident took place.
Some food for thought. I hope this helps.
Gerald D. Hodge, Jr.
War Between the States Historian
Historian: 39th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment