After the war, many of the Confederate dead from battlefields in the area, the and hospitals, were re-interred here in a special section. Most of the men are unknown, only 2,025 are known, the burials are grouped by state and buried in mass graves in the large cemetery that surrounds the church.
The church, originally known as St Paul's Church but now (Old) Blandford Church, was built in 1735 in handmade bricks for members of Bristol Parish. When the town of Blandford was absorbed into Petersburg the church was abandoned in 1806 when its congregation dwindled as a result of the consecration of a new church building in downtown Petersburg. The building then fell into ruin.
In 1901 the Ladies Memorial Association of Petersburg started its restoration as a memorial to fallen 30,000 Confederate soldiers who are buried in the cemetery. They rebuilt the original 1884 arch which had blown down in a storm and repaired the church. The Confederate States commissioned stained glass windows from Louis Comfort Tiffany's studio in honour of their war dead. These windows bear state seals and depict saints and their symbols.
Each year a memorial service is held in the church on the ninth of June, also an 1930s photo showing the placing of flowers on the Petersburg National Battlefield on the monument, to honour the "Old Men and Young Boys," who distinguished themselves in a battle when on the 9 June 1864 approximately 125 of the Petersburg Militia, aged from 15 to 60, commanded by Major Fletcher Archer for two hours stopped an attack by 1300 Federal Calvary men under the command of General Augustus V. Kautz from entering the city. Of these fifteen were killed, eighteen were wounded, and another forty-five captured. (Its the possibility that there might never have been a 10 month Siege of Petersburg if the results of this fight had been reversed.)
The church is a museum and open to the public and I feel that those who visit wont be disappointed:
10:00 am - 4:00 pm Monday - Saturday
12:00 pm - 4:00 pm Sunday
Shown below are links to: the window dedicated to the Tennessee troops; the window with the Confederate flag in the middle; the top of the monument to the Confederate mass grave; the archway into the Confederate grave section of the cemetery; and finally one of the two existing photos taken of the church during the war.
The Tennessee window The Confederate flag The monument
The arch The wartime church The ceremony