View of soldiers graves near City Point General Hospital, circa 1865; historic cemetery ID shield; Lithograph of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Hampton National Cemetery
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Civil War Era National Cemeteries: Honoring Those Who Served

Ashland Cemetery Soldiers' Lot

Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Ashland Cemetery Soldiers' Lot
Ashland Cemetery Soldiers' Lot
Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs,
National Cemetery Administration, History Program

Carlisle’s 12-acre Ashland Cemetery contains a Soldiers’ Lot with the remains of more than 500 Union soldiers.  The soldiers died while stationed at the Carlisle Barracks, one of the oldest military posts in the nation and today home to the U.S. Army War College.  Most of the remains lay in a mass grave, with a monument standing as a memorial to the soldiers’ sacrifice.

Carlisle is located in south-central Pennsylvania’s Cumberland Valley, roughly 30 miles north of Gettysburg.  Scottish and Irish immigrants founded the borough of Carlisle in 1751 at the crossroads of Indian trails. The British established a military camp at Carlisle in 1756, beginning a long tradition of military activity in the area.

During the 1830s, the Army established two military schools at the barracks, the School of Calvary Practice, an elite mounted force, and a school for horse-drawn light artillery. During the Civil War, the barracks served as a central supply depot. Confederate troops occupied the town in June 1863, but left to rejoin their comrades at the Battle of Gettysburg.  Union troops reclaimed Carlisle, only to be challenged on July 1, 1863, by Confederate General J. E. B. Stuart and his three brigades of cavalrymen. Stuart’s force shelled the town and destroyed the barracks before turning south to join in the Battle of Gettysburg.

After the war, Carlisle continued to serve as a post for receiving and training new recruits heading west to serve in the Indian Campaigns.  In 1866, the Federal Government purchased a small parcel in Ashland Cemetery for the burial of soldiers who died while stationed at the barracks. Established in 1865, Ashland Cemetery exhibits a series of curving walks among burial sections and stands of trees. By 1871, the government transferred remains from the barrack’s post cemetery to the Ashland Cemetery Soldier’s Lot.

The army abandoned the barracks in 1871, turning the facility over to the Department of the Interior for the establishment of an Indian school.  For nearly 40 years, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School operated at the site.  The off-reservation government boarding school taught a standard curriculum of mathematics, English, and history in addition to trade and craft skills.

Ashland Cemetery Soldiers Lot
Ashland Cemetery Soldiers' Lot
Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration, History Program

In 1918, the barracks reverted to control of the War Department.  The barrack’s hospital treated more than 4,000 World War I veterans. Between 1920 and 1951, the military established a series of educational facilities at the Carlisle Barracks, including the Medical Field Service School, Army Information School, Military Police School, and Army Security Agency School. In 1951, the U.S. Army War College relocated to the barracks. The college is the army’s most senior military school, training colonels and lieutenant colonels in strategy and leadership.

The soldiers’ lot in Ashland Cemetery contains one mass grave of 500 Union soldiers, only 35 of whom are identified.  In 1960, the Federal Government erected a granite monument at the mass grave.  A bronze plaque is inscribed, “500 U.S. Soldiers of the Civil War Are Here Interred / The Others Are Known But To God.” The inscription also includes the name of the identified soldiers. In addition to the mass grave, 23 individual graves are in the lot. Nineteen of these Union soldiers are identified, with four unknown.

Today, Ashland Cemetery is the only active cemetery in Carlisle. A local funeral home owns the cemetery, while the Department of Veterans Affairs maintains the Soldiers’ Lot.
Plan your visit

Ashland Cemetery Soldiers’ Lot is located at 630 South Hanover St. in Carlisle, PA, within Ashland Cemetery.  Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Annville, PA oversees the Soldiers’ Lot; its administrative office is open Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm. The office is closed on all Federal holidays except for Memorial Day.  For more information about the Soldiers’ Lot, please contact the Indiantown Gap National Cemetery office at 717-865-5254, or see the Department of Veterans Affairs website. The privately owned Ashland Cemetery is open for visitation daily from sunrise to sunset. While visiting, be mindful that our national cemeteries and soldiers’ lots are hallowed ground, and be respectful to all of our nation’s fallen soldiers and their families.  Additional cemetery policies may be posted on site.

Ashland Cemetery Soldiers' Lot was photographed to the standards established by the National Park Service’s Historic American Landscapes Survey.

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