The Shenandoah Valley is home to some of the most important Civil War battlegrounds and cemeteries in the nation. The Staunton National Cemetery is no exception. Located just a mile and a half away from downtown Staunton, VA, its subtle solemnity transports you back into history. The next time you are visiting By the Side of the Road, make some time to visit this historic landmark.
Visiting the Staunton National Cemetery where you can learn a bit of American history is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. For suggestions on other things to do and see in the region, download our free Vacation Guide.
The Story of Staunton National Cemetery
The final resting place for almost 1,000 veterans sits on only 1.15 acres with a small superintendent’s lodge. Of the 749 originally interred, a staggering 518 are unknown. The cemetery opened in 1866 and the Federal Government declared it a national cemetery in 1868. Many interments were first buried in Cross Keys, Port Republic, and the Waynesboro area. Because of its historic importance, the National Register of Historic Places added the cemetery to the list in 1996.
The Staunton, VA, cemetery holds the remains of many Civil War veterans who died fighting against Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson in his Valley Campaign in 1862. The town of Staunton, itself, avoided direct conflict during the Civil War, but several battles were fought just minutes away. On June 8, 1862, Union Major General John C. Fremont pursued Major General “Stonewall” Jackson’s troops. He instead ran into Major General Richard S. Ewell’s forces at Cross Keys. A Confederate attack led by Brigadier General Julius Stahel forced the Union to retreat. The next day at the Battle of Port Republic, just a few miles from Cross Keys, Jackson’s forces defeated the troops of Union Brigadier General Erastus B. Tyler. This was the end of the Valley Campaign, a huge success for the Confederates.
Union Major General David Hunter scored a decisive victory a couple years later at the Battle of Piedmont. The battle killed Confederate Brigadier General W.E. “Grumble” Jones. Union forces also captured more than 1,000 Confederate soldiers, killed 600, and looted the Confederate’s supply depot at Staunton.
Notable Veterans at Staunton
The final resting place of Buffalo Soldier Nicolae Dunca is among the honored dead at Staunton National Cemetery. He emigrated from his native Romania in December 1861 and enlisted four months later. He was not even a U.S. citizen at that point. The Union appointed him as a captain of the 12th New York Infantry due to his prior military experience. He served General Fremont as his aide-de-camp until his death at the Battle of Cross Keys. He is buried in Section B, Grave 292.
The Staunton National Cemetery is open daily from dawn until dusk for visitation. Get directions.
Your Experts in Staunton, VA Points of Interest
The beautiful Shenandoah Valley is rich in history and has many fun and historical activities to enjoy. By the Side of the Road Inn & Cottages is here to assist you in making the best of your trip. Check out our Things to Do page to find best things to do in the Harrisonburg, VA, area. Are you looking for a place to stay during your trip, vacation, or getaway? Contact us and view our rooms and rates!