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When General William T. Sherman’s army occupied Raleigh, North Carolina in 1865, they established Camp Green, a Union military post. The post featured a small cemetery for Union soldiers who had been previously buried throughout the area. This cemetery was later chosen as the site of a national cemetery. By 2005, the seven-acre plot of land had nearly six-thousand internments, including one Medal of Honor recipient: William Maud Bryant, who was killed in Vietnam in 1969. In 1997, the Raleigh National Cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Raleigh National Cemetery

The Raleigh National Cemetery

Before the Civil War, it was common practice to bury soldiers in a designated spot in the garrison where they died or along a road. Even though they often had to be buried far from home, they still received a proper military burial, as did the sailors who were buried at sea. But during the Civil War, the large number of causalities led the American public to rethink this custom and what constituted a proper burial. So, in 1862, the U. S. Congress created the National Cemetery System, which allowed the government to purchase and enclose grounds for military cemeteries. The first national cemeteries were established near hospitals, battlefields, and prison camps. In the coming years, Congress allowed any honorably discharged Union veterans to be buried in the cemeteries, even if they did not die as a result of the war. Confederate soldiers were not permitted to be interred in national cemeteries until 1914.

The Raleigh National Cemetery was created in 1865. It is located on the grounds that were formally used as Camp Green, a Union army post that was established under General Sherman near the end of the Civil War. A small cemetery was laid out at Camp Green for thirty-two Union soldiers who had been buried nearby. This cemetery would grow into the Raleigh National Cemetery. At first, the state of North Carolina owned the property, but it later turned the cemetery over to the federal government in 1871.

Over the years, many features have been added to the Raleigh National Cemetery. In the center of the cemetery is an artillery monument made up of a seacoast gun on a stone base and a plaque detailing the cemetery’s name, year of founding, and the number of unknown internments. The brick wall that encloses the cemetery was laid in 1875. In 1916, a brick and concrete utility building was constructed; it was expanded in 1931. Also in 1931, the octagonal concrete rostrum was poured. Five years later, the wrought-iron gates were installed. The circa-1871 lodge was rebuilt as a Georgian Revival-style brick building with a slate roof in 1938.

Raleigh National Cemetery Raleigh, North Carolina. National Park Service. Accessed March 08, 2019.

Powell, William S. Cemeteries National and State. NCpedia. Accessed March 08, 2019.

Raleigh National Cemetery: Historical Information. U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Accessed March 08, 2019.

Wiki Commons user robrcb. Raleigh National Cemetery in Fall.jpg. Wikipedia Commons. November 11, 2014. Accessed March 08, 2019. Photo source.