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
Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
Civil War Era National Cemeteries: Honoring Those Who Served

Culpeper National Cemetery

Culpeper, Virginia

Culpeper National Cemetery
Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs,
National Cemetery Administration, History Program

Culpeper National Cemetery is centrally located in the Piedmont region of Virginia in the town of Culpeper. Established in 1867 as a six-acre burying ground, this cemetery has been expanded twice in the late 20th century adding more than 22 acres to the property in order to continue providing burial space to veterans.  More than 7,500 individuals are interred at the cemetery, which is significant in its association with the aftermath of the Civil War and the development of Culpeper.

During the antebellum period, Culpeper served as the county seat of Culpeper County, and sat at the junction of five important roads in the Virginia Piedmont. The arrival of the Orange & Alexandria Railroad line at the eastern edge of town in 1853 augmented its role as a transportation hub.  As a result, local commercial and residential development moved eastward toward the railroad right of way in an area known locally as “the wharf” for its association with trade and transport.  Culpeper National Cemetery is located immediately east of the railroad line, adjacent to the mid-19th century town limits.

Although the town was spared the dangers associated with open conflict, both Confederate and Union troops occupied the community over the course of the war, and several properties served as hospitals, command centers, and other war-related functions.  Significant nearby engagements include the Battle of Cedar Mountain (1862) and Brandy Station (1863).  The Union Army of the Potomac camped at Culpeper during the winter of 1863-1864. 

After the war, Culpeper National Cemetery was established as a final place of rest for Union soldiers who died in and around the area of the Virginia Piedmont.  Edward B. Hill, brother of Confederate General Ambrose Powell Hill, reluctantly sold a six-acre parcel of his family’s property east of the railroad for $1,400.  Two Hill family houses located adjacent to the cemetery along South East Street in Culpeper were used as hospitals during the war.

Culpeper National Cemetery
Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs,
National Cemetery Administration, History Program

The original cemetery was roughly square in shape with its boundary enclosed by a brick wall.  Access to burial sections A through F is at the approximate center of the western wall. A drive leads into the cemetery where an “officer’s circle” marks the center of the parcel. Section C contains the remains of more than 900 unknown soldiers.  In 1872, a Second Empire-style lodge  was constructed based on plans prepared by Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs.

The oldest portion of the cemetery contains monuments dedicated to Union soldiers from Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. All were erected at the cemetery prior to 1910.  A memorial to the unknown soldiers buried in Sections C and D was placed in 1988 and the large granite “Armed Forces Memorial” was erected in 1992.

Culpeper National Cemetery was closed for new interments from 1972 to 1978 when a 10.5 acre parcel, donated by the members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2524, was added to the cemetery.  This addition comprises a roughly rectangular tract to the north of the original cemetery and a square shaped parcel located to the west.  This property contains Sections G through O, and a new administration and maintenance building, which was constructed in 1989.
Plan your visit

Culpeper National Cemetery is located at 305 U.S. Ave. in Culpeper, VA. The cemetery is open for visitation daily from dawn to dusk; the administrative office is open Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm, and is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. For more information, please contact the cemetery office at 540-825-0027, or see the Department of Veterans Affairs website.  While visiting, please be mindful that our national cemeteries are hallowed ground.  Be respectful to all of our nation’s fallen soldiers and their families. Additional cemetery policies may be posted on site. 

Visitors to Culpeper National Cemetery may also be interested in the South East Street Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Culpeper National Cemetery is a part of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area. The cemetery is also featured in the National Park Service's Discover Our Shared Heritage Journey through Hallowed Ground Travel Itinerary, which includes other historic places to visit in Culpeper and the Virginia Piedmont region.  

Culpeper National Cemetery was photographed to the standards established by the National Park Service’s Historic American Landscapes Survey.

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