Freed slaves graveyard rededicated

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Dana Gadeken, 17, hand-decorated about 20 of the more than 1,000 luminarias that were lined up in neat rows on the vacant lot at the corner of South Washington and Church streets.

The luminarias -- brown lunch bags containing small tea lights held in place in a bed of sand -- were set out Saturday for each man, woman and child believed to have been buried on the grounds, rediscovered in the 1990s as a cemetery.

Those buried there, historians say, were Civil War-era blacks who were newly freed or escaping slavery. They traveled to Alexandria, which was occupied by the Union Army...

Officials say more than 1,800 people were buried at the site between the spring of 1864 and January 1869. Historians know as much because a ledger was kept listing the names of those buried there. By matching names with hospital admission records, possible causes of death were identified. About half those buried were children.

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