Edmund Burke Whitman

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Edmund Burke Whitman
Superintendent of National Cemeteries
Personal details
Born (1812-10-18)October 18, 1812
East Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Died September 2, 1883(1883-09-02) (aged 70)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Spouse(s) Nancy Russell (m. 1839–54)
Education Harvard University (1838)

Edmund Burke Whitman (October 18, 1812 – September 2, 1883) was a quartermaster during the American Civil War. After the war he was Superintendent of National Cemeteries where he developed the principles for the selection of new United States National Cemetery sites in April 1869. His principles specified that a site should be of historical interest, and it should have convenient access for visitors.[1] He and his team of United States Colored Troops (USCT) located more than 100,000 bodies of Union Veterans in Southern US. Most of the information was give to him by the African American inhabitants as other populace was generally hostile to his efforts [2]


He was born in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts on October 18, 1812 to Alfred Whitman and Betsey Robbins.[3][4] He attended Phillips Exeter Academy and graduated from Harvard University in 1838.[4]

On August 30, 1839 he married Nancy Russell in Kingston, Massachusetts. They had four children: Amelia Whitman (1840–?), Alfred Whitman (1841–?), Russell Whitman (1844–?), and James Whitman (1847–?). Nancy died around 1854 or 1855. In 1855 the family moved to Lawrence, Kansas.[4]

He married Lucretia Clapp on October 25, 1858. They had a son: Edmund Whitman (c. 1860–?).[4] In 1877 the family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts.[3]

He died on September 2, 1883 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[3]


  1. ^ "Designing the First National Cemeteries". National Park Service. Retrieved 2011-11-25. In April 1869, Brevet Major Whitman, the Army’s Superintendent of National Cemeteries, offered four 'principles which should govern the selection of national cemetery sites' that would reinforce the potential for them to become historic attractions as well as shrines. These principles included localities of historical interest, convenient access, placement on the great thoroughfares of the nation, and places presenting favorable conditions for ornamentation ... 
  2. ^ (2012) PBS Video: American Experience: Death and the Civil War (at 1:29:30)
  3. ^ a b c "Edmund Burke Whitman". Reunion of the Society of the Army of the Cumberland. Society of the Army of the Cumberland. 1885. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Edmund Burke Whitman (1812–1883) papers". University of Michigan. Retrieved 2011-11-14. Edmund Burke Whitman was born in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts, on October 18, 1812, the son of farmer Alfred Whitman, and his wife, Betsey Robbins. He left home at 15 and worked in an apothecary shop in Vermont; after taking several other short-term jobs in teaching and sales, he enrolled as a charity student at Phillips Exeter Academ ... 

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