Richmond established its first municipal cemetery at Shockoe Hill in 1820. The ground was very popular, and by the early 1850s, space was scarce for new burials. The city responded by buying two tracts in what was then Henrico County in 1854, totalling about 66 acres (27 ha). The first burials were in 1856, under the aegis of the city's new Committee on Burying Grounds.
In 1861, Richmond was named the capital of the new Confederate States of America. After the Civil War broke out, the city's hospitals and clinics received a large number of critically wounded soldiers. The Committee on Burying Grounds agreed to provide interment for soldiers who died in Richmond or Henrico County, and in July 1862 offered to have Oakwood Cemetery opened for large scale burial of Confederate soldiers, and set aside a separate section of the grounds for this purpose.
Oakwood Cemetery was set as the final resting place of soldiers who died in treatment at Chimborazo Hospital, a massive facility on Church Hill. By the end of the war, the Confederate section of the cemetery covered about 7.5 acres (3.0 ha) and contained around 17,000 burials.
The United States Congress passed a resolution in 1866, a year after the war's end, providing for the creation of a system of national cemeteries for the interment of veterans and war dead. The resolution also called, controversially, for the removal of Union war dead and reinterment in the new national cemeteries.
Oakwood Cemetery today covers about 176 acres (71 ha) of ground, and continues to be maintained by the City of Richmond and various charitable trusts.
[edit | edit source]
- Richmond Parks & Recreation Cemeteries List
- Photographic Tour of Oakwood Cemetery
- Memorial Address May 10, 1916 by Dr. Douglas Southall Freeman
References[edit | edit source]
- Oakwood Memorial Association (1954). Eighty-eighth anniversary of the Oakwood Memorial Association in the century old Oakwood Cemetery. Richmond: Oakwood Memorial Association.