National Cemetery Administration
Cold Harbor National Cemetery
Office Hours: Monday thru Friday 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Closed federal holidays except Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Visitation Hours: Open daily from dawn to dusk.
Cold Harbor National Cemetery is closed to new interments. The only interments that are being accepted are subsequent interments for veterans or eligible family members in an existing gravesite. Periodically however, burial space may become available due to a canceled reservation or when a disinterment has been completed. When either of these two scenarios occurs, the gravesite is made available to another eligible veteran on a first-come, first-served basis. Since there is no way to know in advance when a gravesite may become available, please contact the cemetery at the time of need to inquire whether space is available.
Cemetery is located on Virginia State Highway 156, about seven miles east of Mechanicsville, Va., Route 156 entered from Route 360 at Mechanicsville. Cemetery may also be reached from Interstate 64, exiting at Highland Springs exchange to Nine Mile Road, then right (south) for about one mile to State Highway 156 at Southern Railroad crossing. Turn left (north) on Highway 156. Cemetery is located approximately seven miles from this point. Cemetery directional signs are posted en route.
Fax all discharge documentation to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-866-900-6417 and follow-up with a phone call to 1-800-535-1117.
The Hampton National Cemetery manages this cemetery. You may contact the director at the number listed above.
Military Funeral Honors
U.S. Air Force - (757) 764-7181
U.S. Army - (703) 696-3237
U.S. Coast Guard - (757) 398-6390
U.S. Marine Corps - (717) 770-4524
U.S. Navy - (757) 322-2817
Cemetery policies are conspicuously posted and readily visible to the public.
Floral arrangements accompanying the casket or urn at the time of burial will be placed on the completed grave. Natural cut flowers may be placed on graves at any time of the year. They will be removed when they become unsightly or when it becomes necessary to facilitate cemetery operations such as mowing.
Artificial flowers and potted plants will be permitted on graves during periods when their presence will not interfere with grounds maintenance. As a general rule, artificial flowers and potted plants will be allowed on graves for a period extending 10 days before through 10 days after Easter Sunday and Memorial Day.
Christmas wreaths, grave blankets and other seasonal adornments may be placed on graves from Dec. 1 through Jan. 20. They may not be secured to headstones or markers.
Permanent plantings, statues, vigil lights, breakable objects and similar items are not permitted on the graves. The Department of Veterans Affairs does not permit adornments that are considered offensive, inconsistent with the dignity of the cemetery or considered hazardous to cemetery personnel. For example, items incorporating beads or wires may become entangled in mowers or other equipment and cause injury.
Permanent items removed from graves will be placed in an inconspicuous holding area for one month prior to disposal. Decorative items removed from graves remain the property of the donor but are under the custodianship of the cemetery. If not retrieved by the donor, they are then governed by the rules for disposal of federal property.
VA regulations 38 CFR 1.218 prohibit the carrying of firearms (either openly or concealed), explosives or other dangerous or deadly weapons while on VA property, except for official purposes, such as military funeral honors. Possession of firearms on any property under the charge and control of VA is prohibited. Offenders may be subject to a fine, removal from the premises, or arrest.
Cold Harbor National Cemetery, established in 1866, is located on the site of the Battle of Cold Harbor, a clash that would be General Robert E. Lee's "last great battle in the field," and the only one Union General Ulysses S. Grant would regret. It is one of six Civil War-era cemeteries maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs in the Richmond, Va., area. All these national cemeteries are historically linked to the Union assault on the southern capital: Seven Pines, Richmond, Glendale, City Point and Fort Harrison.
The 1.4-acre Cold Harbor Cemetery is preserved in a relatively rural context, partly due to neighboring lands that are part of the discontiguous Richmond National Battlefield Park, which is managed by the National Park Service. Across the road is the Garthright house, which served as a Union field hospital from June 3-12, 1864. The Battle of Cold Harbor (or Gaines Hill) occurred in June 1864, although cemetery burials were collected here from a 22-mile area.
The layout is typical for small, older cemeteries, that of a nearly perfect square with two 10'-wide bisecting paths and a central flagpole. Before, the permanent masonry structures were constructed, the keeper resided in a white "wooden cottage" surrounded by a white picket fence and Osage orange hedge that kept animals from disturbing the graves. Now, the cemetery features a standard masonry Second Empire lodge designed by Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs and a paneled brick enclosure wall. These were both constructed in 1871. By this date, just over $18,000 had been spent on the cemetery.
In the early 20th century, service structures including tool, well and oil houses were built and rebuilt. Civil Works Administration laborers did much of this construction during the 1930s.
During the late 19th century, Cold Harbor was designated a third-class cemetery, a rating based on size and activity (by comparison, Richmond National Cemetery was rated first-class). Acquisition of the land by the U.S. government was formally completed in 1870 for $200, but the next year additional border acreage was purchased for about $300. One of the first superintendents at the cemetery, Augustus Barry, is the only Medal of Honor recipient buried here. Cold Harbor National Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
Monuments and Memorials
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, built in 1877, is a 5-foot high marble sarcophagus erected by the U.S. government at a cost of $2,151. It commemorates 889 unknown Union dead who were buried in nearby trench graves located on the battlefields of Mechanicsville, Savage-Station, and Gaines Mills.
The Pennsylvania Monument, built in 1909, was erected by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to commemorate the losses of its regiments that fought at Cold Harbor in 1864. The dedication ceremony, 45 years later lasted six days and was attended by 690 of 937 surviving veterans of these troops and commonwealth officials. A memorial commission was established in 1907, which set a limit of $5,000 for the cost to build the memorial. Architect J. Henry Brown of Richmond designed the more than 30-foot tall granite shaft topped by a soldier standing at parade rest.
The 8th New York Heavy Artillery Monument was erected in 1909 by the state of New York to honor the 219 members of this regiment who died as a result of the Battle of Cold Harbor. The granite block features a bronze tablet on which the names of the dead are listed.
One inverted cannon was installed by 1871 bearing a bronze plaque that identifies the location of the cemetery and number of dead interred there.
Medal of Honor Recipients
Sergeant Major Augustus Barry, (Civil War), 16th U.S. Infantry. Place and date unknown, 1863-65 (Section A, Grave 309).