National Cemetery Administration
Chattanooga National Cemetery
Office Hours: Monday thru Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Closed federal holidays except Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Visitation Hours: Open daily from dawn to dusk.
This cemetery has space available to accommodate casketed and cremated remains.
Burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces who have met a minimum active duty service requirement and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. A Veteran’s spouse, widow or widower, minor dependent children, and under certain conditions, unmarried adult children with disabilities may also be eligible for burial. Eligible spouses and children may be buried even if they predecease the Veteran. Members of the reserve components of the armed forces who die while on active duty or who die while on training duty, or were eligible for retired pay, may also be eligible for burial. For more information visit our eligibility web page.
Cemetery is located in the center of Chattanooga. From Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport take Airport Rd. to Lee Hwy (U.S. 11 and 64, Tenn. 2). Travel southwest on Lee Hwy, which becomes Brainerd Rd. Continue through the Missionary Ridge Tunnel. Brainerd Rd. then becomes McCallie Ave. Turn left at Holtzclaw Ave. and proceed 3 blocks to the cemetery on the right.
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 grave location is furnished with a map in the burial document folder given to the next-of-kin at the committal service. There is also a Kiosk located on the street side of the administration building to assist in finding a gravesite. The Kiosk will generate a printed map with the name of the decedent and grave location.
A self-guided historical tour booklet is available at the office and was produced as an Eagle Scout Project. It will guide you through various points of interest on the cemetery grounds.
Military Funeral Honors
The Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for providing military funeral honors. The DOD program, "Honoring Those Who Served," calls for funeral directors to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veteran's family. The active duty branch of service that the veteran served will send a minimum of two representatives to fold and present the flag. Volunteer veterans' organizations may assist in the provision of military funeral honors.
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. The cemetery director, in coordination with the network office, determines these periods for each cemetery depending on climate and other factors. 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 December 1 through January 20.
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 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.
On Dec. 25, 1863, Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, “The Rock of Chickamauga," issued General Orders No. 296 creating a national cemetery in commemoration of the Battles of Chattanooga, Nov. 23-27, 1863. Gen. Thomas selected the cemetery site during the assault of his troops that carried Missionary Ridge and brought the campaign to an end. The land was originally appropriated, but later purchased, from local residents Joseph Ruohs, Robert M. Hooke and J. R. Slayton.
The site Thomas selected was approximately 75 acres of a round hill rising with a uniform slope to a height of 100 feet; it faced Missionary Ridge on one side and Lookout Mountain on the other. Gen. Grant established his headquarters on the summit of the hill during the early phase of the four-day battle for Lookout Mountain.
Chaplain Thomas B. Van Horne was placed in charge of the cemetery’s development. In a report of May 14, 1866, the chaplain indicated that one-third of the cemetery site could not be used for burials due to large rock outcroppings. As a result, he suggested a design dictated by the rocky terrain. Much was accomplished during Van Horne’s tenure at the cemetery. Flowering shrubs, evergreens and other trees were planted to replace a portion of the dense forest of oak trees that had been cut down as a part of the battleground. Each interment section consisted of a central site for a monument surrounded by plots for officers with the graves of enlisted personnel arranged in concentric circles around them. In 1867, it was designated Chattanooga National Cemetery.
By 1870, more than 12,800 interments were complete: 8,685 known and 4,189 unknown. The dead included men who fell at the battles of Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain. There were also a number of reinterments from the surrounding area, including Athens, Charleston and locations along the line of Gen. Sherman’s march to Atlanta. A large number of men—1,798 remains—who died at the Battle of Chickamauga were relegated to unknowns during the reinterment process.
In addition to Civil War veterans, there are 78 German prisoners of war buried here. Pursuant to provisions included in the peace treaty between the United States and Germany at the end of World War I, the German government sought the location and status of the gravesites of Germans who died while detained in the United States. An investigation conducted by the War Department found that the largest number of German POWs was interred at Chattanooga National Cemetery. For a short time, thought was given to removing all other German interments to Chattanooga. In the end, however, the German government decided that only 23 remains from Hot Springs National Cemetery should be reinterred here. The German government assumed the cost of disinterment and transportation to Chattanooga, and erected a monument to commemorate the POWs.
Chattanooga National Cemetery was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
Monuments and Memorials
Chattanooga National Cemetery is home to one of five monumental masonry archways that originally served as the formal entrance to national cemeteries found in the South. Three are managed by NCA: Marietta, Ga., built 1883; Chattanooga, Tenn., built ca.1880; and Nashville, Tenn., built ca.1870. These Roman-inspired structures are approximately 35 feet high with Doric columns, a pair of ornamental iron gates, and inscriptions above. The two other memorial arches are found at Arlington National Cemetery, built 1879, and Vicksburg National Cemetery, ca. 1880, properties managed by the Department of Defense and National Park Service, respectively.
The Andrews Raiders Monument, erected by the state of Ohio in 1890, is among the most unique memorials in the cemetery. The granite base and die is topped with a bronze replica of “The General,” the Civil War-era wood-burning locomotive famous for its great chase of 1862.
The Fourth Army Corps erected a granite obelisk in 1868 to honor their fallen comrades.
The German government erected the German World War I prisoner of war monument in 1935 to honor German soldiers who died in an American POW camp and are interred at the cemetery.
Medal of Honor Recipients
The Medal of Honor may only be awarded to a person who was on active military service at the time of the incident. The first awardees of the medal were men involved in "The Great Locomotive Chase".
Chattanooga National Cemetery has the graves of four of those recipients:
Sergeant Marion A. Ross (Civil War), 2nd Ohio Infantry. Georgia, June 18, 1862 (Section H, Grave 11179).
Sergeant John M. Scott (Civil War), Company F, 21st Ohio Infantry. Georgia, June 18, 1862 (Section H, Grave 11182).
Sergeant Samuel Slavens (Civil War), Company E, 33rd Ohio Infantry. Georgia, June 18, 1862 (Section H, Grave 11176).
Private Samuel Robertson (Civil War), Company G, 33rd Ohio Infantry. Georgia, June 18, 1862 (Section H, Grave 11177).
First Lieutenant William F. Zion (Boxer Rebellion), U.S. Marine Corps. Peking, China July 21 - August 17, 1900 (Section U, Grave 40 South Side).
Master Sergeant Ray E. Duke (Korean War), U.S. Army, Company C, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. Near Mugok, Korea, April 26, 1951 (Section Z, Grave 373).
Corporal Desmond T. Doss, Sr., (World War II), U.S. Army, Medical Detachment, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division. Near Urasoe-Mura, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, April 29 – May 21, 1945 (Section P, Grave 6399-A).
Revolutionary War Veteran S. Miller, (Section B, Grave 830).
Prisoners of War
Chattanooga is the only national cemetery that has both World War I and World War II foreign POWs reinterred. There are 186 POWs from both wars.
Seventy-eight are World War I German POWs, twenty-two part of group burials (Post C Graves 66, 67 and 68); and 108 POWs are from World War II consisting of 105 Germans, one French, one Italian and one Pole.