Remains found in Virginia amputation pit to get proper military burial

ARLINGTON — Their remains had been lost in time, buried in a shallow amputation pit, but now two Civil War soldiers will finally be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

The nearly complete skeletons of the soldiers were reconstructed after they were discovered in Virginia, intermingled with amputated limbs of other wounded soldiers, according to the National Park Service.

Bone fragments were discovered in 2014 at Manassas National Battlefield Park during utility work, the park service said in a news release. The remains were tested by the Smithsonian Institution and determined to be human and Civil War-era. Further archeological excavation of the site happened a year later.

Scientists found that many of the bone fragments resulted from amputations on the battlefield. Civil War surgeons routinely used amputation to save the lives of soldiers hit by bullets and shrapnel during what often is called the first modern war.

But among the various bones, two nearly complete skeletons were found. The men appeared to have such severe injuries that they were not operated on, the park service said.

Though scientists could not identify the soldiers, testing revealed that one died as the result of a bullet striking his upper leg, the park service said. The second man died from buck shot to the upper arm, pelvis and leg.

Carbon testing of the bones and artifacts found in the grave helped determine that both men served in the Union Army and died during the Battle of Second Manassas, also known as Second Bull Run, in August 1862. The battle, early in the Civil War, was a decisive victory for Confederate forces.

The remains were transferred Tuesday to the Army. Their final resting place will be Arlington National Cemetery, in caskets made from a fallen tree on the Manassas battlefield.