As a series of feature articles in the Great Falls Tribune have emphasized for the past 3 years, Montana does have a Civil War story, just one that has been forgotten, even neglected over the decades. To be sure like most people exploring the Montana landscape, I too had trouble seeing those elements–outside of General Thomas Meagher’s commanding statue in front of the State Capitol in Helena. But as I have been back in the Big Sky Country the last three years, I have found many places that help tell the state’s story in the years that transformed the United States into the country we know today. It is more than the the Civil War Sesquicentennial that drove my greater attention–in Tennessee I am the co-chair of the state’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, and here in the Volunteer State it is often all about the Civil War.
To mark Montana’s Civil War landscape, and to honor the many veterans who have served their communities, their state, and their country in this week before Veteran’s Day, I want to draw your attention to a truly exceptional place–the Mountain View Cemetery in Dillon, Montana.
The cemetery contains a wealth of grave markers and statuary from the late 19th and into the 20th centuries. The view from the cemetery is truly inspiring as well–it is among the best maintained community cemeteries in western Montana.
What is most striking about Mountain View Cemetery is its attention to veterans and the number of former Union soldiers buried within the cemetery. The standardized U.S. Army shield grave marker, with the soldier’s name and his unit listed, is found in abundance at Mountain View throughout the older parts of the cemetery.
Here is just a sampling of the Civil War veterans memorialized at the cemetery:
The most remarkable tribute to the veterans at Mountain View Cemetery comes from the mid-20th century: a somber tree-lined path to veterans from more recent wars, heralded by a statue calling for freedom, honor, and justice, values that drove those federal soldiers in the Civil War and values that our veterans today take into fields of conflict across the
the world. Thank you all veterans for your service to our nation.