Stop 8: Robert Sylvester

Robert Sylvester Grave

Grave #5422

Private Robert Sylvester of the 15th New Jersey, along with John Laughton, was known for his antics in camp.  The two men would amuse themselves by climbing trees and pulling squirrels out of their holes with their bare hands.  Unfortunately, Robert succumbed to Typhoid Fever four months after enlisting, in early December 1862.  His comrades did not have enough wood to build a coffin for Robert; instead they shored up the sides of the grave with wood and buried him wrapped in his overcoat.


Many of the casualties from the Battle of Fredericksburg lie under “unknown” markers.  After the battle, Robert E. Lee sent a message to Ambrose Burnside to send burial parties across the river to bury the Union dead.  By the time, these parties began the process many of the bodies had been stripped of clothing and lain on the field for a period of time.  Hastily, and under a flag of truce, Union troops buried their fallen comrades in mass graves, erasing the identities of the dead.  When the bodies were reinterred in the National Cemetery, the identities of only a few could be determined.

At the end of 1862, both armies settled down into winter encampment to wait for the next campaign season.  Just a few months after the Battle of Fredericksburg, the armies would meet again at Chancellorsville.