To schedule a burial: 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.
Military Funeral Honors
A heavily populated military community surrounds the cemetery; therefore, families of veterans can obtain Military Funeral Honors with little difficulty. Military Funeral Honors are provided by Charleston Air Force Base, Charleston, SC; Fort Stewart Army Base, Savannah, GA; Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC; Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, SC; and Beaufort Naval Hospital, Beaufort, SC.
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Beaufort National Cemetery is located in Beaufort County within the city of Beaufort, S.C. The cemetery is best distinguished by a landscape plan in which the burial sections are arranged in the shape of a half-circle with roads arranged like the spokes of a wheel.
Although local Native Americans had inhabited the region for thousands of years, it was not until 1514 that the area to become Beaufort County was the site of the second landing of Europeans on the North American continent. After an extended period of settlement, in 1587 the Spanish withdrew from the region in the wake of attacks by the English in Florida. For approximately eight decades the land was left to its original inhabitants. Eventually, King Charles II granted the territory to a group of eight proprietors who named it “Carolina” after their benefactor. The first settlers included many Barbadians, and Carolina came to more closely resemble the plantation economy of the West Indies than other mainland colonies. In 1711, a year after the territory was divided into South and North Carolina, the town of Beaufort was founded.
Prior to the Civil War, Beaufort was a center of culture and affluence in the American South. Immense fortunes were made through the cultivation of rice, indigo and, later, long-staple sea cotton. Wealthy plantation owners had summer homes in Beaufort where they could benefit from cool breezes coming off the river. The town was also a hotbed of secessionist sentiment. In 1860, the first meeting to draft the Ordinance of Secession (by which South Carolina led the withdrawal of southern states from the Union) was held in Beaufort. As a result, the city was an early target of Union forces.
South Carolina formally seceded from the Union on Dec. 20, 1860. One month later, a Union fleet circled Port Royal Sound and within less than a year after secession, Union forces occupied the city and would hold it for the balance of the war. Fort Mitchell was built on Hilton Head in 1862 and it became the headquarters for the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron; Union forces here reached 50,000 personnel. Gen. William T. Sherman's march through the state at war's end left a trail of destruction that brushed Beaufort County. The war, while not physically decimating the area, claimed one-fifth of the white male population of the state and shattered its economy.
The original interments in the national cemetery were men who died in nearby Union hospitals during the occupation and were initially buried in one of several places—among them East Florida and Hilton Head. About 2,800 remains were removed from cemeteries in Millen and Lawton, Ga., and reinterred in the national cemetery; 117 Confederate soldiers are also buried here.
In May 1987, souvenir hunters using metal detectors on Folly’s Island near Charleston discovered the remains of 19 Union soldiers. The South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology identified the remains as members of the 55th Regiment and the 1st North Carolina Infantry. Both units were composed of black troops who fought with the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. The 1989 Memorial Day program at Beaufort National Cemetery featured the reinterment of the remains of these 19 Union soldiers missing in action since 1863. The honor guard for the service was composed of actors from the cast of the movie “Glory,” which was being filmed nearby.
Beaufort National Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
Monuments and Memorials
The Union Soldiers monument was erected in the 1870s to honor the 174 unknown Union dead buried at the cemetery; it is marble set on a brick base.
A large granite monument dedicated to “the Defenders of American Liberty Against the Great Rebellion” was erected during the 1880s.
In 1997, a memorial in honor of Confederate soldiers interred at the cemetery was installed.
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Medal of Honor Recipients
Private First Class Ralph H. Johnson, (Vietnam War) Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division (Rein), FMF. Near Quan Duc Valley, Republic of Vietnam, March 5, 1968 (Section 3, Grave 21).
Colonel Donald Conroy, "The Great Santini" is interred in Section 62, Grave 182.
Nineteen Union Soldiers of the all black Massachusetts 54th and 55th Infantry were removed from Folly Island, S.C., and reinterred here with full military honors on Memorial Day, May 29, 1989.
Master Sergeant Joseph Simmons, 25th Infantry Buffalo Soldiers, World War I and II, fought on three fronts in France, and was awarded the Legion of Honor Medal by the Republic of France (The French Legion of Honor Medal is equivalent to the United States Medal of Honor), died Sept. 24, 1999 (21 days prior to his 100th birthday). He is buried in Section 2, Grave 2.
Gerd Reussel, German World War II Prisoner of War, Section PB61, Grave 18.
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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.
Fresh cut flowers may be placed on graves at any time of the year. Plastic flower containers are provided by the cemetery for your use at no cost.
Permanent vases are prohibited in any burial sections of the cemetery established after 1973. In burial sections established prior to 1973, one permanent vase per gravesite will be allowed.
Floral items will be removed from graves when they become faded or unsightly.
Artificial flowers may be placed on graves during October 10th through April 15th. These floral arrangements will be removed after April 15th and kept in storage for 30 days. After that, they will be discarded.
Plantings will not be permitted on graves at any time.
Potted plants are permitted on graves 10 days before and 10 days after Easter Sunday and Memorial Day.
Christmas wreaths and/or grave blankets are permitted on graves during the Christmas season, beginning December 1st and will be removed on January 20th of each year. Grave floral blankets will not be larger than 2' by 3'.
Statues, vigil lights, balloons, pinwheels, toys, stuffed animals, breakable objects and similar objects of a commemorative nature are not permitted on 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.
Floral items and other types of decorations will not be secured to headstones or markers by tape, metal/plastic fasteners, glue, paste, or string.
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.
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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.