The aftermath of war: What happened to the dead bodies after big battles during history?

From the ancient battle of Troy to the great wars of recent centuries, tales of heroic combat continue to captivate audiences around the world. But what happens after a big battle is over? Have you ever wondered what happened to all those dead bodies on the battlefield after war of 1812 grave marker? 

In this post, we’ll be exploring how different civilizations throughout history have handled their fallen warriors: from the grisly methods of Ancient Romans to the war of 1812’s grave markers. So if you want to learn more about death in warfare through time, let’s go on a journey into history.

Ancient Romans and the “Scorpion Pit” – war of 1812 grave marker

Ancient Romans had a peculiar tactic when it came to disposing of their fallen enemies after the battle: they threw them into the “Scorpion Pit”. This may sound like an exotic and maybe even devious form of disposal. However, it was anything but glamorous. 

The Scorpion Pit was a pit dug in the ground and filled with scorpions, literally. This ghastly practice provided the ancient Romans with a hands-off method of disposing of their fallen enemies. Imagine how much easier preparing for post-battle clean-up would have been if we had places like that today. Unfortunately, we are still stuck with wheelbarrows and shovels.

Medieval Europe and its use of mass graves for fallen soldiers – War of 1812 Grave Marker

During Medieval Europe, war was a far more common occurrence than in our modern era. To account for the countless fallen soldiers, mass graves were necessary and popularly used to honor the deaths of those who sacrificed their lives for their community. It may seem strange to think of mass graves as honorific symbols. However, for the people of this time, it was a sign of respect for those no longer with them. 

Post-WWII Japan and their policy of burying dead bodies in pits on remote islands – War of 1812 Grave Marker

Following WWII, Japan found itself with a rather peculiar problem: what were they to do with all the bodies of those who fell during combat? Ingeniously, they came up with an unorthodox measure: burying them in pits on remote islands. 

While this may seem like a strange solution, it had its benefits for the heavily bombed country. It was a relatively unobtrusive way to handle the problem. Also, it gave families of soldiers some closure knowing that their loved ones had been brought home in some way. 

The American Civil War and its use of mass burials near battlefields

As if the unfortunately chaotic events of the American Civil War weren’t bad enough, the battles themselves created a string of cemetery cities. Those cities are now known as “national cemeteries.” 

That began as makeshift grave sites near battlegrounds. However, it soon turned into beautiful mid-19th-century memorial sites where we honor our brave soldiers for their bravery and selfless sacrifice. It may sound morbid, but taking a tour of one of these cemeteries is quite whimsical.

The war of 1812: grave markers and bodies left behind

After the war of 1812, over 7,000 soldiers and sailors lost their lives. Yet, many of them were not buried in a war cemetery or given a war grave marker to identify their resting place. Government officials did not find out about the war dead until years later. 

So for those who sacrificed everything for their country during this war, where did their final farewells take place? Historians can never know for certain. However, some have speculated that due to the lack of post-war funds at the time, most of the dead were simply left on battlefields. And to this day, no war of 1812 grave marker has been able to tell the true story of these precious freedom fighters.

The French Revolution and its practice of dumping corpses into the River Seine

During the French Revolution, any prisoner who was sentenced to the guillotine had to worry about what would come after them. It turns out, their corpses were unceremoniously dumped into the River Seine. As morbid as it sounds, this macabre practice is an interesting piece of history that is associated with one of the bloodiest revolutions in modern times.

The Napoleonic Wars and how bodies were fed to pigs after battles

The Napoleonic Wars had been going on for over a decade when something truly shocking began to take place on the battlefields: bodies were being fed to pigs. It wasn’t done out of disrespect or spite, but rather out of necessity. 

With hundreds, or sometimes thousands of dead soldiers scattered across the fields, food supplies quickly ran out. So, pig farmers took their animals to consume the fallen men. It was certainly an unlikely solution to an age-old problem: what do you do with so many corpses? For that idea, we have Napoleon Bonaparte to thank (or blame).

Funeral pyres in Viking culture

Funeral pyres were a popular funeral practice in Viking culture after a battle to honor fallen warriors. This ancient ritual of burning the deceased has been carried forward into modern times. 

From honoring deceased family members to sending boats on fire into the sea symbolizing the hero’s journey, these ceremonies are still beloved by many today. Even if the fire itself is no longer present at a funeral, many rituals and customs evolved from it remain popular. And that provides people with a way to pay respect to those they have lost.


Looking back on history, it’s fascinating to think that the aftermath of each war or battle had its macabre or curious disposal method. From funeral pyres to enemy bodies left for pigs or scorpions to devour, these practices give us just a tiny glimpse into what death meant for those throughout history. 

It can be both humbling and eye-opening to acknowledge our mortality and come face-to-face with what could happen in today’s world if faced with the same odds as ancient civilizations had been. War has consequences often far more horrific than we can ever imagine. 

We can attempt to distance ourselves from war, and that’s something to respect. However, we must never forget why it exists nor disrespect those who sacrificed their lives and bodies in defense of greater causes.


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