19 July 2006 by Published in: General News 21 comments

As I said on Monday night, Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill Cemetery is a classic example of Victorian cemetery in the French mode. I took a fair number of photographs while I was there, and I want to share some of them with you.

One note of explanation is required. It was 102 degrees with 90% humidity that day, and it was just beastly hot. Within seconds of getting out of the car, I was drenched with sweat, and it was just too hot to do the sort of walking around and searching that I would normally do. Consequently, there were a couple of graves that I had hoped to visit (and photograph) but couldn’t find because it was too damned hot and also because I ran out of time–I had a nearly ninety mile drive to make before my talk that night. Two of the graves I’d hoped to visit but missed were John C. Pemberton, the Philadelphia resident who commanded (and surrendered) the Confederate army at Vicksburg, and Col. Richard Rush, the original commander of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry, also known as Rush’s Lancers. While wandering around searching for the Dahlgren graves, I did find the grave of the parents of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, and shot a photo of them for Dimitri Rotov.

This is the grave of Revolutionary War hero Maj. Gen. Hugh Mercer, who was killed in action at Princeton, January 2, 1777.

This is the grave of Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade, who commanded the Army of the Potomac from June 28, 1863 until the end of the Civil War.

The impressive marker with the lion is that of Maj. Gen. Robert Patterson, who ineffectively campaigned against Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley in 1861.

This is the grave of Bvt. Maj. Gen. Samuel W. Crawford, who went from garrison doctor at Fort Sumter to effective division commander in the Fifth Corps.

This is the grave of Lt. Benjamin “Benny” Hodgson, who was killed during the valley fight at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, June 25, 1876. The word “cavalry” is misspelled on the marker as “calvery”.

These are the graves of Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren (on the left, with the very large marker) and his son, Col. Ulric Dahlgren (the small marker on the right).

There is also a detail of Ulric’s marker.

This is the grave of Col. George Leppien, the Pennsylvania artillerist who was killed in action in 1864. Note the rendition of a Napoleon gun on the grave.

I wish I’d had more time and it wasn’t so beastly hot.

Scridb filter


  1. Charles Bowery
    Thu 20th Jul 2006 at 5:25 am

    Great post. I agree that these Victorian cemeteries are fascinating places. You will have a blast at Hollywood– I was born and raised 20 minutes east of there, and didn’t visit until a couple of years ago.

    I still owe you photographs of some fascinating German war memorials.

  2. Art Bergeron
    Thu 20th Jul 2006 at 8:25 am

    Eric wrote: “Col. George Leppien, the Pennsylvania artillerist who was killed in action in 1864. Note the rendition of a Napoleon gun on the grave.”

    Not to be nitpicky, but it isn’t a Napoleon but probably a Model 1841 six-pounder. Just call me an CW artillery geek.


  3. Thu 20th Jul 2006 at 8:27 am


    Meade’s headstone is… modest. It looks like the stone for a mildly prosperous grocer who might have spent three months as a sergeant in a militia regiment in 1861 or 1865.

  4. Thu 20th Jul 2006 at 9:17 am


    It was an interesting day, and I’m looking forward to contrasting Hollywood and Laurel Hill.


  5. Thu 20th Jul 2006 at 9:18 am


    It is interesting, isn’t it?


  6. Thu 20th Jul 2006 at 9:58 am

    Wonderful pictures, Eric. You know my passion for old cemeteries and the graves of these famous, and not so famous, folks. I was really surprised by how small Ully’s headstone is. Also by Meade’s – as Mitch said, it could be the stone of your average guy.
    If you’re seeing Hollywood soon, you’ll enjoy it (if it’s not so blasted hot!). Karen and I spent the better part of a day in there a few years back, and it too is like a walk through history. And like most, it does indeed take an entire day just to take some of it in.

  7. Thu 20th Jul 2006 at 11:00 am

    Great shots Eric and thanks for sharing them. I have often wished that someone (with more ingenuity and free time than myself) would publish a “picture” book filled with charcoal rubbings taken from the tombstones of our fallen heroes from the Civil War. A short bio could compliment each rubbing and it would be both a history book and an “artistic” piece.

  8. John D. Mackintosh
    Thu 20th Jul 2006 at 12:15 pm

    These are great photos, especially considering the hellish heat you were exposed to while taking them. Thanks especially for including the Hodgson grave as I have always wanted to see that one but never have. He was a close friend of Captain George D. Wallace, who came from the same county I hail from in S. Carolina. I covered Wallace in CUSTER’S SOUTHERN OFFICER, published in 2002.

  9. Thu 20th Jul 2006 at 1:37 pm

    Thanks, guys.

    John, you’re very welcome. I figured you might appreciate that one. I will see about getting you a bigger shot of it (they had to be pared down for space and loading considerations).

    I’m planning on sneaking off to Hollywood Cemetery next Thursday after my talk. You’re welcome to join me if you like.


  10. John D. Mackintosh
    Thu 20th Jul 2006 at 3:49 pm


    I appreicate that very much on the Hodgson grave and hope I can join you this time next week in Richmond. I recall discussing Hodgson with the late Brian Pohanka in an email conversation we had probably around 2000. He told me he knew someone who was amassing a great deal of material from researching the ill-fated young Philadelphian, with the hopes of publishing a biography as Hodgson was an interesting character, with a highly mercurial personality–the so-called 7th Cavalry “regimental favorite” when sober but absolute hell when inebriated. Unfortunately, that work hasn’t seen the light of day yet, Brian never revealed the name of the individual doing all the research, so I suppose he wished to remain anonymous for whatever reason.

    The Ulric Dahlgren grave marker is remarkably small, which is strange considering the nature of his death and the fact that the family couldn’t give him a “proper” burial until after the war.

  11. Thu 20th Jul 2006 at 6:55 pm


    Indeed. I’m going to take a detour on my way to Richmond on Tuesday to visit the spot where Dahlgren was killed. It will round things out.

    You’re welcome to visit Hollywood with me.

    A Hodgson bio would be very interesting indeed.


  12. Denise A. Dahlgren
    Sat 30th Sep 2006 at 7:35 pm

    Dear Sir,
    I was very interested to see your pictures and to read of your research into the life of my ancestor. My father, Ulric, is decended through the Admiral’s(JAD) eldest son. One of the best places I’ve found for info about Ulric is the archives at Georgetown. His stepmother’s papers were all donated to the school and can still be read there. JAD was apparently somewhat obsessed with his son’s death and much of his autobiography dealt with Ulric. I would be glad to share with you any of the information my family has gathered about him and look forward to reading more about your exploits.

  13. Dana Twiss
    Thu 08th Nov 2007 at 10:46 am

    Also not to be picky but George F. Leppien, Capt. (brevetted Major and Colonel posthumously) was killed at Chancellorsville, May 1863.

  14. Chris Bingefors
    Sun 06th Apr 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Tnaks for the photos! We are researching Ulric Dahlgren´s ancestry in Sweden as a collaborative effoert on a genealogy website. One member stumbled upon these pictures by sheer luck.

  15. David Andersson, Ed.S.
    Thu 01st Jan 2009 at 2:40 am

    Thank you for the photos. Admiral Dahlgren is my great great grandfather (thru son Eric & wife Lucy Drexel). I’d be interested in hearing from Denise Dahlgren (dlandersson@hotmail.com) re: family tree deails.

  16. Becky Hodgson
    Sat 24th Jan 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Hi I am writing in regards to the photo of Lt. Benjamin Hodgson. My husband Ben is actually a blood relative of Lt. Hodgson…If you really want to know more about Lt. Hodgson please email us, as we have quite a bit of info on him and other photos…My husband was actually named after him and the resemblance of all the hodgson men is quite remarkable.
    Ben and Becky Hodgson

  17. Becky Hodgson
    Sat 24th Jan 2009 at 10:47 pm

    OOps Guess I should give u are email addy, it is

  18. Wed 09th Dec 2009 at 7:46 pm

    I was looking through your site and saw the comment from Denise A Dahlgren a descendant of Admiral Dahlgren on the photo of Admiral Dahlgren and Ulric Dahlgren’s gravesite. I am also a descendant of Admiral Dahlgren (through his son Charles Dahlgren) and was wondering if you could forward my email to Denise. I do family tree work as a hobby and would like to add her branch to our tree and would be interested in corresponding with her. Thank you for your photos and any assistance you may be able to provide.

  19. Tue 20th Sep 2011 at 6:40 am

    I have just finished my book on Brigadier General Carlos J. Stolbrand – a compatriot of Admiral Dahlgren. Much about Dahlgren is in this bok, which is in Swedish and is yet to be translated Fore more info see: (www.litenupplaga.se) The name of the book is “Tack, General!” I have done some research on Dahlgren and his background and the way I understood there is an old biblic saying on his tombstone written in
    old Swedish saying: “What the Lord gives, envy cannot destroy” – my translation may not be to the point. Anybody heard of this and any comments?

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