Did you know that there are seven national cemeteries in the greater Richmond area, all constructed around 1866 to accommodate the mass casualties of the Civil War? Visitors are flocking to the region to participate in the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the war, and national cemeteries tell the story of the human toll that conflict brings. The seven Richmond national cemeteries, all open for public visitation, are:
There are 5700 unknown Union soldiers interred at Richmond National Cemetery. Many were moved from other cemeteries when Richmond National was established in 1866, and other came directly from local battlefields and Confederate prisons.
Final resting place of 1500 veterans, most of whom were killed at the Battle of Market Heights in May of 1864; among the 1500 are 600 unknown Union soldiers, 4 are Confederate soldiers and many of the rest are African American soldiers.
Built on the site of the “Battle of Frayser’s Farm” a.k.a. the Battle of Glendale, the cemetery was a reinterment site for Union soldiers who died in battles local to the Henrico location. The Battle against Union troops retreating to the James River was lost by the Confederacy. More than 1000 unknown soldiers are buried in Glendale National Cemetery.
Seven Pines National Cemetery, Sandston
Established in 1866, it was the reinterment site for Union soldiers after the Battle of Fair Oaks Station; 1300 are buried here and only 150 were identified.
Cold Harbor National Cemetery, Mechanicsville
The cemetery is built near the site of the Battle of Cold Harbor, named after a local tavern. The Confederate victory here resulted in 12,000 Union soldier deaths, and the loss of 4,000 Confederates. The cemetery is part of the Cold Harbor Battlefield and nearby Richmond National Battlefield Park.
City Point National Cemetery, Hopewell
Hopewell sits at the confluence of the James and Appomattox Rivers and was strategically critical to the Union campaign to take Petersburg, then the Confederate capital of Richmond. The area was a hub for transportation and supplies, and also home of many of the hospitals that served the severely wounded soldiers from the areas bloodiest battles. Over 6800 soldiers are interred at City Point, of who most were veterans of the Civil War. Approximately 120 Confederate soldiers are buried in the cemetery’s western section.
Poplar Grove National Cemetery, Petersburg
Final resting place of 6,188 Union soldiers, Poplar Grove National Cemetery is part of the Petersburg National Battlefield. The fall of Petersburg, and subsequently Richmond, was among the last of the Civil War. The Union won and secured Lee’s surrender by surrounding Petersburg, staying put for ten months, then completely cutting supply lines between the region and Richmond. One week after Petersburg fell, Lee surrendered in Appomattox, Virginia.
Casualties during the Civil War were so numerous that Richmond alone was forced to open seven central cemeteries to accommodate tens of thousands of bodies in a period of just one year. Every life lost was a story that deserves to be told. The seven national cemeteries of Richmond are permanent memorials to the soldiers on both sides of the front lines of one of the most harrowing domestic conflicts our nation ever suffered.
If you are a Civil War enthusiast, a lover of history, or simply a traveler of the great cities of the world, Richmond, Virginia should be a must-see on your list. Plan your trip now, while the Civil War gives such context to our shared pasts. Make reservations at your favorite Historic Richmond Inn today.