National Cemetery Administration
Wilmington National Cemetery
Office Hours: This cemetery is administered by the New Bern National Cemetery. Closed federal holidays except Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Visitation Hours: Open daily from sunrise to sunset.
Wilmington 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 approximately 20 blocks from the historic center of the City of Wilmington. From Wilmington International Airport, exit the airport on Airport Drive. Turn left on 23rd Street. Continue approximately two miles to Market Street. Turn right. Cemetery is three blocks on your 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 New Bern National Cemetery administers this cemetery. Please contact the office at the number listed above.
Military Funeral Honors
A funeral director will make arrangements for military funeral honors. When these arrangements have been made, please notify the cemetery representative.
Some telephone numbers that may be helpful in obtaining military funeral honors are:
Local Numbers for Military Funeral Honors:
U.S. Marine Corps - (910) 451-2414
U.S. Army - (910) 396-4262
U.S. Air Force - (919) 722-5324
U.S. Navy - (904) 542-1536
U.S. Coast Guard - (757) 398-6390
The Department of Veterans Affairs and cemetery staff members do not exercise authority over the extent, content, or nature of honors and ceremonies furnished by the individual branches of the military service. Questions and inquires regarding these matters should be directed to the branch of service in which the veteran served.
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. 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 the period of October 10 through April 15, and 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 and wires may become entangled in mowers or other equipment and cause injury.
Permanent items removed from graves will be placed in inconspicuous holding area for one month prior to disposal. Decorative items removed from graves remain 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.
Wilmington National Cemetery is located in New Hanover County near downtown Wilmington, N.C., on the Cape Fear River.
During the Civil War, Wilmington harbor was one of the most significant importation depots for the South, and as such mines and underwater explosives protected it. In addition, the heavily armed Fort Fisher guarded the entrance to the harbor. Until the last few months of the Civil War, Fort Fisher kept the port of Wilmington open to blockade-runners supplying necessary goods to Confederate armies inland. Unlike older fortifications built of brick and mortar, Fort Fisher was made mostly of earth and sand, which was ideal for absorbing the shock of heavy explosives. By 1865, the supply line through Wilmington was the last remaining route open to Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.
The Union army and navy planned several attacks on Fort Fisher and Wilmington, but made no attempt until Dec. 24, 1864. After two days of fighting and little headway, Union commanders concluded the fort was too strong and withdrew. However, they returned for a second attempt on Jan. 12, 1865, and for more than two days federal ships bombarded it from land and sea. Three days later, more than 3,300 Union infantry, including the 27th U.S. Colored Troops, attacked. After several hours of fierce combat, Union troops captured the fort. The Confederate army evacuated their remaining forts in the Cape Fear area and within weeks Union forces overran Wilmington. Once Wilmington fell, the Confederacy’s supply line was severed and the Civil War was soon over.
In 1867, land was purchased from a local Wilmington resident for the construction of a national cemetery. Most of the original interments were remains removed from the Wilmington City Cemetery, Fort Fisher, Fort Johnson and the surrounding area. An inspection dated May 13, 1870, reports 2,039 interments, including 698 known and 1,341 unknown graves marked by headboards.
Also buried in Wilmington National Cemetery are the remains of a group of Puerto Rican laborers who fell victim to the great influenza epidemic of 1918. On Nov. 14, 1918, the Wilmington Morning Star reported an outbreak of influenza on a ship docked in the Cape Fear River. The government vessel, City of Savannah, had arrived two days earlier carrying 1,900 Puerto Ricans to Fayetteville to aid in the construction of Camp Bragg. By the time the ship left Wilmington harbor, 28 of the Puerto Rican laborers had been buried at the national cemetery.
Wilmington National Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
Monuments and Memorials
Wilmington National Cemetery has no monuments or memorials.