Near Richmond in Henrico County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Richmond National Cemetery
During the Civil War, Union and Confederate armies fought multiple battles for control of Richmond. Thousands of Union soldiers perished. They are now buried in Richmond National Cemetery and six other national cemeteries established in the Richmond-Petersburg area in 1866.
Most of the men who lie here died in Richmond's Confederate prisons. Among those are 3,200 Union soldiers reinterred from Oakwood Cemetery, and another 388 from Hollywood Cemetery. The remains of 210 prisoners were moved from Belle Isle to the national cemetery, along with twelve men removed from a trench in the "Rocketts," a suburb near Castle Thunder prison. The remains of 2,710 Union soldiers who died in local battles are interred here, too.
Nearly a decade passed between the time the cemetery was established and the completion of the reinternments. An 1868 U.S. Army report estimated the total at 6,329. By 1874, the grave count rose to 6,540. In addition, fourteen non-combatants—civilians and government employees—are buried here.
The 8-acre cemetery was originally laid out in four sections with a flagstaff mound in the center. Each section, divided by graveled walks, was organized into six plots. The government erected its first brick Second Empire-style lodge here in 1870. By 1874,
Today, over 9,000 burials are located in the cemetery, including an unknown Confederate soldier reinterred here in 1978.
Richmond, the Confederate capital, housed thousands of Union prisoners of war in three prisons—Libby Prison, Castle Thunder, and Belle Isle. In March 1862, the Confederate government seized Luther Libby's warehouse and converted it into Libby Prison. Five months later, Gleanor's Tobacco Warehouse, Palmer's Factory, and Whitlock's Warehouse collectively became Castle Thunder prison.
Another prison opened that summer on Belle Isle, a small island in the James River across from Libby Prison. This facility housed prisoners in tents on an open field. Unshaded in summertime, tents were stifling; in winter they were cold and windy. Poor conditions fostered disease at all three prisons and, as a result, thousands of Union captives died. Confederate authorities buried them in various private Richmond cemeteries. Hundreds were buried on Belle Isle.
Union prisoners were housed in tents on Belle Isle, c. 1864. Library of Congress.
Libby Prison, c. 1864. The print, with prisoners visible in the windows, contradicts Confederate orders directing guards to shoot anyone looking out. Library of Congress.
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Erected by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration.
Location. 37° 30.893′ N, 77° 23.591′ W. Marker is near Richmond, Virginia, in Henrico County. Marker can be reached from Williamsburg Road (U.S. 60) east of Government Road (U.S. 60), on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1701 Williamsburg Rd, Henrico VA 23231, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A National Cemetery System (here, next to this marker); Darbytown Road (approx. 0.2 miles away); Richmond Defences (approx. 0.4 miles away); a different marker also named Richmond Defences (approx. 0.6 miles away); Charles City Road (approx. 0.9 miles away); Williamsburg Road (approx. 0.9 miles away); Evergreen Cemetery (approx. 1.1 miles away); Rocketts Landing (approx. 1.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Richmond.
Also see . . . Richmond National Cemetery. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration (Submitted on October 19, 2015.)
Categories. • Cemeteries & Burial Sites • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 19, 2015, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 205 times since then and 27 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on October 19, 2015, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. 4, 5. submitted on October 19, 2015.