Discovery of War of 1812 soldier’s grave likely one of several

Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 4:41 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The remains of a soldier from the War of 1812 recently discovered in Burlington is giving researchers valuable new information about the time period.

The home improvement project-turned archaeological dig found the remains of one soldier, and officials say they expect to find others in the site near a former hospital.

“We determined they were human, they were not the result of a recent crime or other criminal activity,” said Vermont State Archaeologist Jess Robinson.

He says that soldier’s remains from the War of 1812 have previously been found as recently as 2002 and 2006 in Burlington’s Old North End. At the current location -- which officials are not disclosing -- they have only found one, but expect to find more. “We believe there are several more sets in this area,” Robinson said.

He says the discovery corresponds to historical data of soldiers from the War of 1812 in the region, and that the bones were in good condition, but that’s about it. “Everything else -- the coffin, anything organic, the wood from the coffin -- is nothing more than stains in the ground,” Robinson said.

It’s believed that each solider was buried individually. It’s believed that many died from sickness. “A lot of the people that ended up dying, died as a result of illness, not directly of war wounds,” Robinson said.

So why a burial site in Burlington? Kate Kinney with the University of Vermont Consulting Archaeology Program, says that during the war, Burlington hosted a hospital near a historic battle to defend the city in what is now Battery Park. “That was occupied and used throughout the war, from the beginning to the end,” she said.

She says it’s estimated that around 700 American soldiers from Maine to Virginia are buried throughout Burlington. The military never noted where they were. “That hospital was over near Battery Park and was designed to host 300 men, but at times that number would increase to about 900. The burials here are generally associated with that hospital,” Kinney said.

Crews say that they plan to bring whatever they find to be studied and cataloged at UVM. They plan to have a proper burial for the fallen American soldiers in the spring. As for other sites, they say they know they are out there. “We know there are more burials in this general area, we don’t know exactly where and how many,” Kinney said.

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War of 1812 soldier’s remains unearthed in Burlington

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