Richmond National Cemetery
Richmond National Cemetery was established barely a year after the end of the Civil War, and it lies within what once were the fortification lines built by the Confederate Army. As wartime had flooded Richmond’s earlier cemeteries with corpses, the first burials on this site were re-internments from Oakwood Cemetery and Hollywood Cemetery. Richmond National Cemetery is a reminder of the brutalities that war inflicted on the city and its inhabitants.
Backstory and Context
Most of those who were first buried in this graveyard hadn’t perished in combat, they were actually prisoners of war. In particular, they were Union soldiers who had passed away as a direct result of injuries suffered in battle. Many such soldiers spent time trying to recover in Richmond’s wartime hospitals.
Even after the end of the war, the amount of casualties was higher than expected, so the need for more burial space soon arose. Even though the cemetery was officially established by the United States Congressional legislation in 1866, the land it lies on wasn’t purchased until 1867.
Soon after the re-internments from Oakwood Cemetery and Hollywood Cemetery took place, those buried in the Belle Island Prison Camp cemetery were re-interred here. Later on, as local cemeteries such as Seven Pines National Cemetery and Cold Harbor National Cemetery were reaching their maximum capacities, many soldiers’ bodies were redirected instead of to the location originally intended for them. The high volume of bodies made apparent the need for more space, and only two years after Richmond National Cemetery was established, more land was purchased to expand the site. A second expansion would take place on 1906, which enlarged the cemetery to its current 9.7 acres.
Although many a veteran is buried here, Richmond National Cemetery no longer accepts new interments. In 1995, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Overflowing with corpses from numerous wars, Richmond National Cemetery is even nowadays a reminder of the terrible consequences of war.