About Richmond National Cemetery – History & Location

Richmond National Cemetery is a United States National Cemetery three miles (4.8 km) east of Richmond in Henrico County, Virginia. Administered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, it encompasses 9.7 acres (3.9 ha), and as of 2021 had more than 11,000 interments. It is closed to new interments. Richmond National Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.


The cemetery lies within what was once Richmond’s wartime fortification lines built when the Confederate army defended Richmond during the American Civil War. The cemetery was established by the United States Congressional legislation in 1866 but the original plot of land was not formally purchased from local resident William Slater until 1867. Additional land purchases in 1868 and 1906 brought the cemetery to its current physical size.

The original burials in the cemetery were re-interments from Oakwood Cemetery and Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. Those re-interments were primarily of Federal Union soldiers who perished from the effects of wounds while prisoners of war in the Richmond area military hospitals. Federal dead from the prisoner of war cemetery at Belle Island Prison Camp in the James River were also re-interred here. Some of the dead intended for the Seven Pines National Cemetery and Cold Harbor National Cemetery were transferred to Richmond when those smaller burial grounds quickly reached their initial capacities from post-war burials and reburials of the dead from the battle of Seven Pines (also known as Fair Oaks) and the battle of Cold Harbor.

Also re-interred in the Richmond National Cemetery were the remains of more than 500 Union prisoners of war, who had been originally interred in the “Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground”, the city of Richmond’s second African Burying Ground.[3] The “Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground” was Shockoe Hill Cemetery’s segregated burying ground for free people of color, and the enslaved.

Military veterans from later eras are also buried here at Richmond National Cemetery.

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