Detail of gate post at Alexandria (VA) National Cemetery; Rows of unknown graves at Memphis National Cemetery; Directional sign post to Fort Gibson National Cemetery
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Civil War Era National Cemeteries: Honoring Those Who Served

Prospect Hill Cemetery Soldiers' Lot

York, Pennsylvania

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

As early as 1862, remains of Union soldiers were placed in historic Prospect Hill Cemetery in York, Pennsylvania.  The state sent more than 360,000 of its men to fight for the Union cause. This soldiers’ lot contains the graves of 163 Union soldiers. The circular lot is marked by a grand monument honoring the soldiers who died in the York area.  The names of the known dead are inscribed in two circular curbs that surround the monument.

The town of York’s Reformed Church chartered the creation of Prospect Hill Cemetery in 1849. The cemetery’s founders chose to create a rural cemetery, sited outside of the town proper, and designed with curving pathways and organically shaped burial sections.  Trees and other plants added a scenic and tranquil element to the informal plan inspired by Romantic ideals of reflection and beauty.

The first burial took place in 1851. Numerous reinterments from older local cemeteries followed the opening of Prospect Hill Cemetery, including that of the remains of Philip Livingston.  A signer of the Declaration of Independence, Livingston died while attending the Continental Congress, held at York in 1778.

During the Civil War, Pennsylvania played a crucial role, providing both supplies and men for the Union's war effort.  Given its importance, Confederate forces frequently targeted campaigns against the state.  In July 1863, Union and Confederate forces clashed at Gettysburg, roughly 30 miles west of York, resulting in the deaths of 8,000 men.  Four months later, President Abraham Lincoln attended the dedication of the newly established soldiers’ cemetery and gave his now famous “Gettysburg Address.”

By 1862, a soldiers’ lot was established on the western slope of Prospect Hill Cemetery to bury the remains of soldiers who died in the area’s military hospitals. A new lot in the shape of a low, circular mound was created on the more favorable eastern slope of the cemetery. The government transferred the remains to this new location in the cemetery. The names of the interred soldiers are inscribed on two concentric, circular curbs that surround the monument. A fence of stone bollards linked by metal chain encloses the circular soldiers’ lot.

In 1874, the citizens of York erected a monument in the center of the soldiers’ lot to honor the Union troops that died in the region. Sculptor Martin Milmore created a 15-foot bronze statue of a Union soldier at parade rest. The statue stands upon a granite base surrounded by four artillery cannons.

Several other Civil War veterans are buried outside of the soldiers’ lot. Most notable is William Buell Franklin, a Union General who served as the corps commander of the Army of the Potomac. Throughout Prospect Hill Cemetery’s 170 acres are the graves from veterans from every war from the Revolutionary War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Plan your visit

Prospect Hill Cemetery Soldiers’ Lot is located at 700 N. George St. in York, PA, within Prospect Hill Cemetery.  The soldiers’ lot is overseen by Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Annville, PA; 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.

Prospect Hill Cemetery is open for visitation daily from sunrise to sunset.  The cemetery’s administrative office is located on site and may be contacted at 717-843-8006.  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.

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

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