National Cemetery Administration
Baton Rouge National Cemetery
Office Hours: Monday thru Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Closed federal holidays except Memorial Day.
Visitation Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset.
This cemetery is closed to new interments. However, space may be available in the same gravesite for eligible family members.
Cemetery's front gates are on 19th Street. From Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport take a left onto Veterans Memorial Drive. Turn right at the first traffic light and immediately take Interstate 110 South and exit 22nd Street. Turn right at end of exit ramp and follow 22nd Street to Florida Boulevard. Go through the traffic light at Florida Boulevard. Turn right to Convention Street, right on N 19th Street, enter cemetery.
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.
Port Hudson National Cemetery is responsible for all administrative functions including the scheduling of burials. You can contact the staff at the number listed above.
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.10 through Jan. 10. 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.
Baton Rouge National Cemetery is located in East Baton Rouge Parish within the city limits of Baton Rouge, La. Baton Rouge has been under the authority of seven different nations since its founding: France, England, Spain, West Florida Republic, Louisiana, Confederate States of America and the United States of America. French explorers discovered the area in the late 17th century. The local Native Americans referred to it as Istrouma or Red Stick, which translated into French is Baton Rouge. Explorers’ records describe large, reddened poles erected with fish and bear heads attached in sacrifice by local tribes, which may have designated boundaries between tribal hunting grounds.
In 1718, the French are alleged to have constructed a fort near here to protect travelers bound from New Orleans to northern outposts. In 1763, this area was transferred to England according to the Treaty of Paris and it was renamed New Richmond. A little more than 30 years later, in September 1779, the Spanish defeated the English at Fort Butte on Bayou Manchac and captured Baton Rouge. The territory remained under Spanish control until 1810 when approximately 1,000 local settlers declared themselves the independent West Florida Republic and overthrew Spanish colonial rule. On April 8, 1812, Louisiana was admitted into the Union, and five years later the city of Baton Rouge was incorporated.
Louisiana seceded from the Union in 1861 and became an independent republic for six weeks before joining the Confederacy. Union forces captured New Orleans in May 1862 without a battle, and subsequently, Union troops moved upriver to Baton Rouge. The Battle of Baton Rouge took place Aug. 4, 1862. After a brief skirmish, Union troops overwhelmed the small Confederate force and Baton Rouge remained under Union control for the duration of the war.
During the Civil War, soldiers and sailors were buried at the present site of Baton Rouge National Cemetery and, in 1867, it was designated a national cemetery. Remains were brought to Baton Rouge National Cemetery from the battlefields near Baton Rouge as well as the surrounding area, including Plaquemine, La., and Camden, Ark. At the end of the Civil war, it was reported that the government paid a bonus to anyone who discovered the grave of a Union soldier so that his remains could be reinterred in the national cemetery.
A “substantial wooden fence” enclosed the cemetery until 1878, when the government contracted with Michael and Bernard Jodd to build a brick wall around the cemetery. Unfortunately, before the wall was completed both men died in a yellow fever epidemic and were interred in the cemetery; local workmen completed the wall.
In 1886, the remains of Gen. Philemon Thomas were disinterred from the old Baton Rouge post cemetery and reinterred in the national cemetery. Thomas was born in Virginia in 1763 and died in Baton Rouge on Nov. 18, 1847. He fought in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, and commanded the forces that captured the Spanish fort at Baton Rouge in 1810. Later in life, Thomas served in both the Kentucky and Louisiana legislatures and was twice elected to the U.S. Congress.
There are 20 large flat markers in Section 3. Many are cracked and the majority of the inscriptions have been worn away by the elements. Some of these markers were placed in other cemeteries as early as 1830 and the remains, along with the large markers, were moved to the Baton Rouge National Cemetery circa 1890. The decedents were both adults, as well as children of officers. Removal of a levee by the U.S. Army Engineers necessitated discontinuance of a cemetery known as the Old Post Cemetery of the Arsenal Grounds.