Civil War  |  Historic Site

Nashville National Cemetery


1420 Gallatin Road
South Madison, TN 37115
United States

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This heritage site is a part of the American Battlefield Trust's Road to Freedom: Tennessee Tour Guide app, which showcases sites integral to the Black experience during the Civil War era. Download the FREE app now.

Nashville National Cemetery
Monument to the 20,133 who served as United States Colored Troops in the Union Army at Nashville National Cemetery. Tom Lawrence/Battle of Nashville Trust

Nashville National Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 1,909 United States Colored Troop (USCT) soldiers, representing 30 regiments. The cemetery marks an honored end of their journey which, for nearly all of them, began with enslavement.

Union Gen. George Thomas selected this gently rolling site north of Nashville, bounded by the Gallatin Pike and split by the Louisville and Nashville railroad saying, “no one could come to Nashville from the north and not be reminded of the sacrifices that had been made for the preservation of the Union.” They might also recall the essential role this and other rail lines played in Union victories throughout Tennessee and the deeper South. Fewer would remember the Black soldiers, like some from the 12th, 13th, 40th, 100th, and 101st USCT soldiers buried here, who protected these vital lines from Confederate attacks.

Encountering defiant desecration and neglect by defeated Confederates, freedmen bravely guided Union officers to soldiers’ graves scattered across 251 burial sites. Freedmen also served on crews removing 16,485 fallen soldiers for reburial here. This “Harvest of Death” came from Nashville and a wide area radiating along railroads and rivers north to Bowling Green and Cave City, Kentucky, east to Carthage, south to Franklin, and west to Clarksville and Johnsonville. The careful collaboration between soldiers and freedmen ensured that 75 percent of the Black and white soldiers reburied here from 1866-1869 rest under headstones that include their names.

A rare bronze statue of a USCT soldier stands in section J, one of several sections where USCT soldiers rest apart from their white officers and comrades. Modeled from life after a Navy veteran and USCT reenactor, and unveiled in 2006 by a coalition of African American community leaders, Black veterans, and artists, the monument remembers the 20,133 soldiers who served in Tennessee’s USCT regiments.

Nashville National Cemetery: What's Nearby

South Madison, TN
Slave Markets, Colored Troops, Freedman’s Bank and Exodusters
Nashville, TN
Tennessee State Museum and State Capitol
Nashville, TN