About Blandford Cemetery – History & Location

Blandford Cemetery is a historic cemetery located in Petersburg, Virginia. The oldest stone, marking the grave of Richard Yarbrough, reads 1702. It is located adjacent to the People’s Memorial Cemetery, a historic African-American cemetery.

Although veterans of every American war are buried there, the largest is a mass grave of 30,000 Confederates killed in the Siege of Petersburg (1864–65) during the American Civil War. Only 3,700 names of the interred are known.

Over the entrance road is a stone arch labeled “Our Confederate Heroes”, with the dates 1861–1865 and 1866–1913.

In 1866, Blandford Cemetery was the site of one of the earliest Decoration Day ceremonies.[further explanation needed] While visiting the cemetery, the wife of Union General John A. Logan was present and reportedly witnessed Miss Nora Fontaine Davidson, a schoolteacher, and her pupils putting flowers and tiny Confederate flags on the soldiers’ graves. Shortly afterward General Logan issued a proclamation to the Grand Army of the Republic (a very large Union veterans association) calling for the observance of Memorial Day. Locals say that Decoration Day served as the inspiration for the federal Memorial Day.

In 2014, Bellware and Gardiner dismissed this claim in The Genesis of the Memorial Day Holiday in America, pointing out that General Logan was aware of the southern observances of Memorial Day prior to his wife’s trip to Virginia in 1868, and had mentioned them in a speech in 1866.

The cemetery grounds cover 189 acres (0.76 km2), making it the second largest cemetery in Virginia (Arlington National Cemetery being the largest). The original burial grounds, referred to as the “old ground,” span 4 acres (16,000 m2) and includes the historic Blandford Church.

Colonel Robert Bolling, Confederate Major General William Mahone, his wife Otelia, and many of their kinfolk, Confederate Brigadier General Cullen A. Battle and Confederate Brigadier General David A. Weisiger are interred there.

The cemetery is adjacent to Blandford Church, which is a Confederate memorial that features a full set of windows designed by Tiffany studios. The cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.

Location 319 S. Crater Rd., Petersburg, Virginia
Coordinates 37°13′33″N 77°22′50″WCoordinates37°13′33″N 77°22′50″W
Area 189 acres (76 ha)
Built 1702
Architect Davidson, James; Bowie, McCleary & Wright
Architectural style Mid 19th Century Revival, Early Republic, Late Victorian
NRHP reference No. 92001371 [1]
VLR No. 123-0110
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1992
Designated VLR April 22, 1992
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