Natchez National Cemetery
Natchez National Cemetery is the final resting place of soldiers who fought in the U.S. Civil War. It is also the final resting places of recruiters and political leaders such as Hiram R. Revels, the African American in the US Senate who recruited black troops for the Union during the war. In 1866, a large number of soldiers who were buried in the levees of the west bank of the Mississippi River were exhumed and transferred to this cemetery.
Backstory and Context
Natchez National Cemetery dates back to 1866, and is one of 21 national cemeteries established in that year. Located on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, the site’s topography influenced its unique layout of irregular shaped burial sections, terraced hillsides, and gravel and grass pathways. In 1866, the U.S. government purchased 11 acres for use as a national cemetery. The site chosen lay two miles north of the city center and adjacent to the Natchez City Cemetery, which dates to 1822. The site is irregular in shape—five uneven sides—and is enclosed by a brick wall built in 1873. Due to the steep topography, the cemetery features terraced burial sections of various shapes and sizes. Two Buffalo soldiers, members of the African American 24th U.S. Infantry regiments, are interred in the cemetery, as are members of the 58th U.S. Colored Infantry. Many of the burials in Section D of the cemetery are Union Navy personnel, who were transfered from other burial places in the Natchez vicinity. The sailors served on some of the most decorated Union vessels, including Admiral David Farragut’s flagship USS Hartford and the river monitors Osage and Ozark. Natchez National Cemetery is also the final resting place of a recipient of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration, given for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”