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.
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.
For information on scheduled burials in our national cemeteries, please go to the Daily Burial Schedule.
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.
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.
For educational materials and additional information on this cemetery, please visit the Education section, located below.
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 is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force that can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. Recipients receive the Medal of Honor from the president on behalf of Congress. It was first awarded during the Civil War and eligibility criteria for the Medal of Honor have changed over time.
Recipients buried or memorialized here:
Technical Sergeant Charles H. Coolidge (World War II). Coolidge was born in Signal Mountain, TN, on August 4, 1921. He graduated from Chattanooga High School in 1940 and worked in his family's printing business until drafted in June 1942. He went overseas with the 36th Infantry Division in spring 1943 and saw action in North Africa and Italy, earning the Silver Star. From October 24–27, 1944, Coolidge led an untested machine gun section, protecting his battalion's flank near Belmont-sur-Buttant, France. Facing a superior German force supported by armor, Coolidge frequently put himself in harm's way and repulsed numerous attacks. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for this action. He returned to the print shop after the war, raised a family, and spoke often of his wartime experience. He died on April 6, 2021, and was buried alongside his wife, Frances in Section BB, Site 474-A.
Master Sergeant Ray E. Duke (Korea). He received the Medal of Honor posthumously for service in the U.S. Army, Company C, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, in recognition of conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage near Mugok, Korea, April 26, 1951. He was last seen firing into the ranks of onrushing assailants. Duke is buried in Section Z, Site 373.
Corporal Desmond T. Doss (World War II). Desmond Doss was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1919. He was working in the Newport News shipyard when he was drafted into World War II. Based on his religious beliefs, Doss refused to carry a weapon or kill an enemy soldier so he served in the U.S. Army as a medic in the Pacific Theater: Guam, the Philippines, and Japan. He received two Bronze Stars, and the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of 75 comrades during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, despite being severely wounded. Doss was the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor, which was presented by President Harry Truman. Doss contracted tuberculosis in 1946, died from respiratory complications in 2006, and is buried in Section P, Site 6399-A.
Private Samuel Robertson (Civil War). Robertson was one of the first recipients of the Medal of Honor for actions during "The Great Locomotive Chase" at Big Shanty, Georgia, in April 1862. He served in the U.S. Army, Company G, 33rd Ohio Infantry, and died June 18, 1862. His award was posthumous. Private Robertson is buried in Section H, Site 11177.
Sergeant Major Marion A. Ross (Civil War). Ross was one of the first recipients of the Medal of Honor for actions during "The Great Locomotive Chase" at Big Shanty, Georgia, in April 1862. He served in the U.S. Army, 2nd Ohio Infantry, and died June 18, 1862. His award was posthumous. Sergeant Major Ross is buried in Section H, Site 11179.
Sergeant John M. Scott (Civil War). Scott was one of the first recipients of the Medal of Honor for actions during "The Great Locomotive Chase" at Big Shanty, Georgia, in April 1862. He served in the U.S. Army, Company F, 21st Ohio Infantry, and died June 18, 1862. His award was posthumous. Sergeant Scott is buried in Section H, Site 11182.
Sergeant Samuel Slavens (Civil War). Slavens was one of the first recipients of the Medal of Honor for actions during "The Great Locomotive Chase" at Big Shanty, Georgia, in April 1862. He served in the U.S. Army, Company E, 33rd Ohio Infantry, and died June 18, 1862. He was the last participant in the 1862 raid so recognized, posthumously, in 1883. Slavens is buried in Section H, Site 11176.
Private William F. Zion (Boxer Rebellion). Zion received the Medal of Honor while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps for actions during the Boxer Rebellion, Peking, China, from July 21–August 17, 1900. He also served in the U.S. Army, attaining the rank of First Lieutenant. Zion died in 1919 and is buried in Section U, Site 40 South Side.
Revolutionary War Veteran S. Miller, (Section B, Site 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.
Juanita Dixon Walker was born June 21, 1916, in Dunn, LA, and she married Melvin Turnley Walker (1914–1948) before November 1942. Melvin Walker enlisted in 1937 and served in the Army Air Corps until his death in 1948. Juanita Walker started her career with what became the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) at Chattanooga National Cemetery, TN. She became NCA's first female cemetery director in 1974 when named the superintendent of Lebanon National Cemetery, KY. Walker served at cemeteries at Mountain Home and Memphis, TN, and Los Angeles, CA, before retiring in 1986. She died December 17, 2000, and is buried in Chattanooga National Cemetery (Section DD-2, Site 50).
Born in Michigan in 1850, teacher Sara Wiltse advocated for kindergarten as an educational prerequisite to elementary school. She studied childhood development, wrote children's stories, and edited a volume of Grimm's Fairy Tales. Wiltse's prominent research is reflected in presentations to the National Education Association and contributions to the American Journal of Psychology. Her books continue to influence teaching. Wiltse died on May 12, 1932. She was buried at Chattanooga National Cemetery with her brother Jason, a Civil War veteran who died in 1874 (Section P, Site 6428).
More than half of VA's national cemeteries originated with the Civil War and many are closed to some burials. Other sites were established to serve World War veterans and they continue to expand. Historic themes related with NCA's cemeteries and soldiers' lots vary, but visitors should understand "Why is it here?" NCA began by installing interpretive signs, or waysides, at more than 100 properties to observe the Civil War Sesquicentennial (2011-2015). Please follow the links below to see the interpretive signs for Chattanooga National Cemetery.
Visit the Veterans Legacy Program and NCA History Program for additional information. Thank you for your interest.