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

Danville National Cemetery

Danville, Virginia

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

Located in the last capital of the Confederacy, Danville, Virginia, Danville National Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 1,300 Union soldiers.  Most of these Civil War veterans died in one of the city’s six infamous prisoner-of-war camps, including Confederate Prison No. 6, which still stands in downtown Danville.  The national cemetery also features four group burials containing the remains of World War II soldiers who died overseas. 

During the Civil War, Danville served as an important railroad hub for the Confederacy and as a key supply depot for the South’s armies and its capital at Richmond.  After a decisive Confederate victory at the First Battle of Bull Run at Manassas on July 21, 1861, hundreds of captured Union troops were initially sent to prisoner-of-war camps at Richmond before being transferred to Danville, among other locations.  Six large tobacco warehouses in the city, converted into prisons, held more than 7,000 Union soldiers throughout the war.  Nearly 1,400 prisoners died from diseases such as small pox and dysentery, which spread rapidly due to the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.  These prisoners of war were laid to rest in mass graves located just south of downtown.

In order to inter the Union dead from the Danville prison camps properly, the Federal Government established the Danville National Cemetery in December 1866.  Except for four members of the 6th Army Corps, all of the initial burials at the national cemetery were the reinterments to individual graves from the prisons’ burial trenches.  While most of the burials in the cemetery are of Civil War veterans, World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam veterans are also present.  The cemetery closed to new interments in October 1970.

The roughly rectangular cemetery covers 2.6 acres and consists of 11 burial sections.  The site is bound by Lee Street to the north, residences along Cole Street to the east, and the Green Hill and Freedman’s cemeteries, public burial grounds established in 1863 and 1872 respectively, to the south and west.  Enclosing the national cemetery on all sides is a four-foot tall rubble-stone wall, with a double wrought-iron gate anchored by dressed stone piers marking the main entrance at the northwest corner of the site.  A single pedestrian gate is located adjacent to the main gates.

Superintendent's lodge
Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration, History Program

Just inside the entrance is the cemetery superintendent’s lodge.  Built in 1928 to replace the original 1870s lodge, the 1½-story Dutch Revival-style house is composed of a stucco-clad lower level topped with a gambrel roof.  The flagpole sits atop a small hill near the center of the cemetery, at the intersection of Sections B, C, F, and G.  Located near the flagpole is a seacoast cannon, planted upright with a cannonball in its mouth.  Affixed to the gun is an 1874 shield plaque with the cemetery's name, date of establishment and the number of known and unknown interments. Also on-site near the lodge is a circa 1909-10 cast-iron tablet featuring the text of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

The remains of 143 unknown Civil War soldiers are interred at Danville National Cemetery.  The cemetery also contains four group burials containing the remains of World War II soldiers who died while serving abroad.  Grave 1550 contains the remains of five engineers who died in Pietramala, Italy, in 1945.  Grave 1553 contains the remains of four Army troops who died in Melun, France, in 1944.  Grave 1562 contains the remains of four Army troops who died in Honduras in 1945.  Grave 1567 contains the remains of three Air Force veterans who died in Bari, Italy, in 1944.  These group burials were made at Danville in 1949.
Plan your visit

Danville National Cemetery is located at 721 Lee St., in Danville, VA.  The cemetery is open for visitation during daylight hours.  No cemetery staff is present onsite.  The administrative office is located at the Salisbury National Cemetery, in Salisbury, NC, and the office is open Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm; it is closed on all Federal holidays except for Memorial Day and Veterans Day.  For more information, please contact the cemetery office at 704-636-2661, 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.

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

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