Our National Cemeteries: Glendale National Cemetery

Glendale National Cemetery in Glendale, Virginia

The carnage that was the Civil War came as a surprise to most. It was supposed to be a short war, but after Manassas, Shiloh, and the Seven Days, it became apparent that this would be grueling affair. The Federal government was not prepared for the deaths, injuries, and illnesses that occurred. Finding enough hospitals to treat the sick and the wounded was difficult enough, but what should they do with the dead, and how to treat the remains with the respect that was due them?

In 1862 Congress authorized the acquisition of land for cemeteries for those soldiers who had honorably fought for the Union cause, and by 1870 there were some 300,000 burials. The grounds were reverent, containing iron gates, fences or walls, and beautiful landscaping. By 1872 there were 74 cemeteries, in which approximately 45 percent of the graves were those of unknown soldiers.

In Richmond, the need for cemeteries was great, with more than 1,700 Federal dead in the battles fought at the 1862 fields of Seven Pines, Mechanicsville, Gaines’s Mill, Savage’s Station, Glendale, and Malvern Hill. Many more would fall in 1864. Soldiers had been hastily buried, and some of their remains were barely covered. In response, five cemeteries were constructed in the Richmond area at Seven Pines, Cold Harbor, Richmond National Cemetery, Glendale, and Fort Harrison.

The cemetery at Glendale was established on July 14, 1866. A beautiful and respectful site was developed, with black iron gates, a brick wall and eventually a caretaker’s house. Initial interments numbered 1,192, of which 234 were known and 958 were unknown. Over the years, many more veterans of other wars have been added, and quite a number of these had their wives also buried in their plots. There are 2,064 bodies interred on the grounds, and the cemetery is now closed to further interments.[1]

Perhaps the most poignant grave belongs to a soldier of a much later war, Corp. Michael Fleming Folland, who perished in the war in Vietnam. While fighting in the Long Khanh Province, he saw an enemy soldier hurl a grenade into his group. Without a thought for himself, he jumped on the grenade and saved his comrades. Folland was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. No matter what year or what war, America has always been blessed with heroes. The cemetery at Glendale is a living testament to that.

Michael F. Folland lies buried at Glendale National Cemetery in Virginia. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic action during the combat that led to his death in Vietnam.

[1] Figures are from information at the Glendale Cemetery.

3 Responses to Our National Cemeteries: Glendale National Cemetery

  1. I’ve driven by there so many times….next time I’ll make a point to stop. Thanks…

  2. If you ever get the chance, Annapolis National Cemetery is worth a visit. Not any “notables” like at the Naval Academy Cemetery, but important none the less. It’s existence is due to Camp Parole which was initially created as a mustering-in, training site for Maryland’s regiments but evolved as a receiving site for soldiers paroled and waiting for exchange. After renewal of prisoner transfers towards the end of the war it was where many Andersonville soldiers were taken.

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