Stop 8: Jerome Pierce
Note: Ira Allen is buried in Grave #541, right next to Pierce.
Jerome Pierce left behind a wife, Albina (he called her Allie), and a two year old daughter, Lucy, when he joined the 36th MA in 1862. On May 12, 1864 Jerome was struck in the heart with a bullet, killed instantly during the Battle of Spotsylvania. Like most soldiers, he was buried on the battlefield and was later re-interred here in Fredericksburg.
News of his death devastated his wife, a widow at the age of 29. After the war, she sent a check for 100 dollars to Andrew Birdsall, the cemetery superintendent, with a request that he put the money in a bank and use the interest to decorate the grave regularly. Birdsall did so, and his family passed the responsibility down the generations until the 1990s. Allie Pierce never remarried, dying in 1920 at the age of 85. Lucy also never married, thus Jerome has no direct descendants to remember his story. In a sense, the American people have become the family of these men, coming together to remember them and make sure their stories never die. Today we still decorate Jerome’s grave, a remembrance to the tragedy of war and the families affected by it.
Before you leave Jerome’s grave, reflect on the fact that you are doing something his family was never able to do: visit a loved one’s last resting place. The Fredericksburg National Cemetery is a place of national mourning, where visitors can learn about the national past and those who fought in America’s military. On a more personal note, however, visitors to our national cemeteries act as surrogate families mourning these soldiers, particularly those whose family never learned their fate. The impact of these deaths, the ripples from the single pebble thrown in the water, resonate even today.