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

Allegheny Cemetery Soldiers' Lot

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Allegheny Cemetery Soldiers' Lot
Allegheny Cemetery Soldiers' Lot
Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration, History Program
Allegheny Cemetery Soldiers’ Lot, located in Section 33 of Allegheny Cemetery, contains 303 burials, primarily of Civil War soldiers.  The city of Pittsburgh established the cemetery in 1844 on the outskirts of the city, laying it out according to rural cemetery principles with curving roadways and landscaping designed to evoke self-reflection and a connection to nature.  In 1862, ground was set aside for the free burial of soldiers killed defending the Union during the Civil War. 

By the 1840s, Pittsburgh’s downtown cemeteries had become critically overcrowded. The city’s church and civic leaders decided to solve the issue by establishing a rural cemetery, outside of the downtown area, yet accessible by public roads.  The cemetery’s founders selected a site of 100 acres, located four miles northeast of downtown and near the banks of the Allegheny River.

The design of Allegheny Cemetery reflected the tenets of the rural cemetery movement, which began in England and was first adopted in the United States in the early 1830s.  Pastoral landscaping and park-like settings were designed to promote spiritual contemplation and reflection. The cemetery’s first superintendent, Pittsburgh architect John Chislett, laid out the winding avenues with plantings to evoke a natural environment.  Chislett also designed the English Gothic gateway and lodge built in 1848.  In the 1870s, the cemetery expanded with the purchase of an additional 200 acres.

From the initial establishment of the cemetery, the cemetery’s founders set a policy to provide free burials to Pittsburgh’s soldiers and the poor as a community service.  In keeping with this policy, the cemetery donated the land of Section 33 in 1862 to provide burial space for men killed in service of their country.  Today the Soldiers’ Lot contains 303 burials, mostly of Union soldiers. The lot also contains a number of Confederate soldiers and veterans of the Spanish-American War. A bronze plaque inscribed with 'Soldiers’ Lot,' flanked by cannon mounted on stone bases marks the lot.

In 1876, the Allegheny County Ladies Memorial Association erected a grand monument in the Soldiers’ Lot, honoring those killed during the Civil War.  Pittsburgh artist Fred Meyer designed the 16-foot-tall sandstone monument that features a woman with her head bowed and holding a wreath. The sculpture sits atop a stone pedestal decorated with funeral bunting along the top and bas-relief figures of soldiers and sailors in the sides. A bronze plaque inscribed with a dedication to those who died for their country is affixed to the front side of the pedestal.  At the base of the monument are four carved cannons.
Plan your visit

Allegheny Cemetery Soldiers’ Lot is located at 4734 Butler St. in Pittsburgh, PA, within Allegheny Cemetery.  The Soldiers’ Lot is overseen by the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies; its administrative office is open Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm; it is closed on all Federal holidays except for Veterans Day.  For more information about the Soldiers’ Lot, please contact the national cemetery office at 724- 746-4363, or see the Department of Veterans Affairs website

Allegheny Cemetery is open for visitation daily from 7:00am to 5:00pm; check the cemetery’s website for later closing hours during the spring and summer.  The cemetery’s administrative office is located on site and may be contacted at 412-682-1624.  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.

The Allegheny Cemetery website contains maps and an online collection of historical publications related to the cemetery, its founding, and notable burials.

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

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