American War Dead in Canada

Yesterday, 21 soldiers–most of them probably American–who died during the War of 1812 were re-buried with full military honours under a new marker at the site of the Battle of Stoney Creek, near the Canadian city of Hamilton, Ontario. The re-interment followed a $470,000 restoration of the Battlefield Cemetery, which has just been designated a National Historic Site.

Canadian, British and American military representatives (and some 500 living history re-enactors) paid their respects, as the Hamilton Spectator reported:

Here’s a link to a website that gives a description of the battle:

It seems that the remains (the website gives the figure as 23) were first discovered in 1889, by a farmer ploughing the field. Scraps of uniform and buttons indicated both British and US army soldiers were among the remains.

Now, my questions:

why were these US Army battle casualties not repatriated to Arlington National Cemetery? (Possibly it because it impossible to identify which remains were British, and which US?) What are the criteria for repatriating US war dead, as opposed to burial in cemeteries overseas?

The official Arlington website gives quite detailed info on who may be buried there, but doesn’t address why some US war dead are buried overseas, and some repatriated (I recall watching TV news stories as a kid, circa 1967-71 about US dead from Vietnam being returned to the US).

This website gives an excellent account of the US overseas war graves (also mentions those Americans buried in British or Canadian war graves), but again, does not address why some are repatriated and some are not.

Can fellow dopers enlighten me?


So far, you’ve only got my WAGs: (1) We won in WWI and WWII, but didn’t obtain clear victories in either Korea or Vietnam, so leaving soldiers’ remains behind would have been exacerbating the unsatisfactory conclusions of these wars (though this doesn’t have bearing on the War of 1812); (2) Cultural bias; the soil of Indochina or the Korean peninsula seems that much more alien, and therefore distressing to leave servicemens’ remains behind there; (3) The state of the remains–was the soldier KIA and then immediately brought back to base, or was he buried where he was? (4) A combination of the above factors.


It’s late and I want to go to sleep, so I don’t have time to check the links to see if “my two cents” are already there. My apologies if they are.

I know that at least one American war cemetery – perhaps more, perhaps all – is technically AMERICAN soil (a gift from France). It’s the site of the WWI battle of Belleau Wood, renamed Bois de la Brigade Marine.

If that’s the standard practice, maybe it’s why some US war dead don’t get repatriated.