National Cemetery Administration
Cold Harbor National Cemetery
Visitation Hours: Open daily from dawn to dusk.
Office Hours: Monday thru Friday 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed federal holidays except Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Cold Harbor 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.
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 on Virginia State Highway 156, about seven miles east of Mechanicsville, VA, Route 156 entered from Route 360 at Mechanicsville. Cemetery may also be reached from Interstate 64, exiting at Highland Springs exchange to Nine Mile Road, then right (south) for about one mile to State Highway 156 at Southern Railroad crossing. Turn left (north) on Highway 156. Cemetery is located approximately seven miles from this point. Cemetery directional signs are posted en route.
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.
Cemetery Contact Information
The Hampton National Cemetery manages this cemetery. Staff is available at Ft. Harrison National Cemetery for local assistance and can be reached at (804) 795-2031. Otherwise, you may also contact Hampton National Cemetery at:
Phone: (757) 723-7104
Fax: (757) 723-0027
Military Funeral Honors
U.S. Air Force: (800) 325-4986
U.S. Army: (804) 734-6606
U.S. Marine Corps: (866) 826-3628
U.S. Navy: (866) 203-7791
U.S. Coast Guard: (757) 398-6390
For educational materials and additional information on this cemetery, please visit the Education section, located below.
Our cemetery floral/grounds policy exists only to reflect the honor and respect we hold for our Nation's Veterans, by preserving the dignity and solemnity of their final resting place.
Fresh cut flowers may be placed on graves at any time. Artificial flowers are allowed from December 1st – March 1st and five days before and after Memorial Day. Floral containers are provided by the cemetery for public use for all fresh cut and artificial flowers.
Fresh cut or artificial floral arrangements taller than the headstone/marker must be laid on top of the grave, never affixed to or exceed the height of the headstone/marker and will be removed and disposed of when they become unsightly. Floral stands are not permitted at any time.
The cemetery will remove unsightly fresh cut and artificial floral arrangements on the 3rd Wednesday of each month.
Floral items or seasonable adornments cannot be secured to headstones or markers or exceed height of the headstone/marker at any time of the year. Unauthorized items will be removed by cemetery personnel and discarded.
Funeral arrangements may include 1 casket spray and up to 3 floral pieces accompanying the casket or urn at the time of the 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.
Potted plants may be placed on the grave 5 days before and 5 days after Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Hanukkah and Christmas.
Winter seasonal adornments are permitted on graves from December through January. Seasonal wreaths/grave blankets must be no larger than 2 feet by 3 feet. Cemetery will remove and dispose all seasonal items on last Friday in January.
Cemetery is not responsible for floral or seasonal arrangements after they have been placed on gravesites. Flowers are placed at your own risk and will not be replaced by the cemetery if damaged, lost, or stolen. Deer and other wildlife may eat the fresh flowers and arrangements.
To preserve the dignity and appearance of the cemetery, the following items are prohibited: Balloons, pinwheels, wind chimes, lights, statues, stuffed animals, alcoholic products, offensive items, permanent in-ground planting/pots, non-government supplied floral containers or other similar items inconsistent with the cemetery setting.
To maintain a safe environment for visitors and staff the following items are also prohibited: Breakable items of any kind, such as vigil lights, glass vases, decorative glass/plastic items, candles, explosives, weapons of any kind, ammunition, any objects that could become projectiles when caught in ground maintenance equipment such as rocks, coins or small durable objects. (While placement of rocks or coins on gravesite may reflect religious or military traditions, please remove from headstone or grave after personal visitation.)
Individual gravesite flag, no larger than 8" by 12", are permitted on graves placed by family and friends for private memorialization. The following military and military-related service flags are allowed: United States, Armed Services of the U.S (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Public Health Service, American Merchant Marines, Army & Air National Guards, Prisoners of War/Missing in Action, Medal of Honor and Foreign Allies pertaining to the decedent. Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) gravesite flags are not permitted. Flags will be removed and retired when needed for grounds maintenance or when become unserviceable IAW Title 4 U.S.C. Chapter 1.
In order to preserve the dignity and honor of our Veteran's final resting place, please observe the following rules of behavior while visiting the cemetery grounds:
- Pets are not allowed on the cemetery grounds at any time. Service Animals are allowed.
- No soliciting.
- Recreational activities.
- Public gatherings of a partisan nature are prohibited, no unauthorized gatherings are permitted.
- Littering is not allowed, please use receptacles provided.
- Smoking is allowed in designated areas only.
- No cutting, digging or otherwise damaging the landscape.
- Boisterous activity, including the playing of loud music, is prohibited.
- Altering a headstone in any manner is prohibited. (i.e., marking, sitting on, placing objects upon, attaching photographs or keepsakes to, etc.)
These rules are covered by the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations 38 C.F.R. §1.218. All items placed on gravesites become the property of the US Government and will be disposed of under federal regulations.
Thank you in advance for respecting and observing our Floral/Grounds Policy. We want to ensure our Veterans and their eligible dependents have an honorable landscape to memorialize their final resting place in our National Shrine.
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.
Cold Harbor National Cemetery, established in 1866, is located on the site of the Battle of Cold Harbor, a clash that would be General Robert E. Lee's "last great battle in the field," and the only one Union General Ulysses S. Grant would regret. It is one of six Civil War-era cemeteries maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs in the Richmond, VA area. All these national cemeteries are historically linked to the Union assault on the southern capital: Seven Pines, Richmond, Glendale, City Point and Fort Harrison.
The 1.4-acre Cold Harbor Cemetery is preserved in a relatively rural context, partly due to neighboring lands that are part of the discontiguous Richmond National Battlefield Park, which is managed by the National Park Service. Across the road is the Garthright house, which served as a Union field hospital from June 3–12, 1864. The Battle of Cold Harbor (or Gaines Hill) occurred in June 1864, although cemetery burials were collected here from a 22-mile area.
The layout is typical for small, older cemeteries, that of a nearly perfect square with two 10'-wide bisecting paths and a central flagpole. Before, the permanent masonry structures were constructed, the keeper resided in a white "wooden cottage" surrounded by a white picket fence and Osage orange hedge that kept animals from disturbing the graves. Now, the cemetery features a standard masonry Second Empire lodge designed by Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs and a paneled brick enclosure wall. These were both constructed in 1871. By this date, just over $18,000 had been spent on the cemetery.
In the early 20th century, service structures including tool, well and oil houses were built and rebuilt. Civil Works Administration laborers did much of this construction during the 1930s.
During the late 19th century, Cold Harbor was designated a third-class cemetery, a rating based on size and activity (by comparison, Richmond National Cemetery was rated first-class). Acquisition of the land by the U.S. government was formally completed in 1870 for $200, but the next year additional border acreage was purchased for about $300. One of the first superintendents at the cemetery, Augustus Barry, is the only Medal of Honor recipient buried here. Cold Harbor National Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
Monuments and Memorials
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, built in 1877, is a 5-foot high marble sarcophagus erected by the U.S. government at a cost of $2,151. It commemorates 889 unknown Union dead who were buried in nearby trench graves located on the battlefields of Mechanicsville, Savage-Station, and Gaines Mills.
The Pennsylvania Monument, built in 1909, was erected by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to commemorate the losses of its regiments that fought at Cold Harbor in 1864. The dedication ceremony, 45 years later lasted six days and was attended by 690 of 937 surviving veterans of these troops and commonwealth officials. A memorial commission was established in 1907, which set a limit of $5,000 for the cost to build the memorial. Architect J. Henry Brown of Richmond designed the more than 30-foot tall granite shaft topped by a soldier standing at parade rest.
The 8th New York Heavy Artillery Monument was erected in 1909 by the state of New York to honor the 219 members of this regiment who died as a result of the Battle of Cold Harbor. The granite block features a bronze tablet on which the names of the dead are listed.
One inverted cannon was installed by 1871 bearing a bronze plaque that identifies the location of the cemetery and number of dead interred there.
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:
Sergeant Major Augustus Barry (Civil War) was born in Ireland. He served in the 16th U.S. Infantry during the Civil War. On February 28, 1870, he was presented the Medal of Honor for gallantry in various actions between 1863 and 1865. Following his merited service, Barry served as the Superintendent of Culpeper National Cemetery and then Cold Harbor National Cemetery until his death in 1871 (Section A, Site 309).
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 Cold Harbor National Cemetery.
Visit the Veterans Legacy Program and NCA History Program for additional information. Thank you for your interest.