Bath National Cemetery is located in Steuben County, N.Y., adjacent to the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
The cemetery was originally a part of the New York State Soldiers and Sailors Home, which was established in 1877; the cemetery was dedicated in Dec. 25, 1879. In 1930, the Soldiers and Sailors Home and cemetery became two integrated components of the Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC). When 82 national cemeteries were transferred from the Department of Army to the Veterans Administration in 1973, the Bath VAMC cemetery became part of the National Cemetery System and was designated appropriately.
Bath is the final resting place of the “first and oldest” U.S. MIAs (Missing in Action). On Oct. 26, 1987, an archeologist discovered a skeleton during the construction of a house in Fort Erie, Canada. Scientists and military historians were subsequently sent to investigate the site and ultimately, they discovered 28 remains. The bones were initially believed to be remains of the area’s indigenous population. The discovery of buttons, however, led authorities to believe that the men buried at the site were British soldiers.
The 28 soldiers had been interred in a traditional manner, lying east-west with hand crossed; this indicates that they had been buried during a lull in the fighting by fellow soldiers rather than the enemy. Further investigation by the military indicated that the men had fought during the Niagara Campaign with clashes at Chippaw and Lundy’s Lane before they died at Snake Hill, a battery overlooking Fort Erie. The Department of the Army, working with Canadian officials, held a repatriation ceremony at Fort Erie, Canada, on June 30, 1988 and the soldiers were reinterred with full military honors.