Nashville National Cemetery is located in Madison, Tenn., in Davidson County approximately six miles northeast of Nashville’s city center. The tracks of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad bisect the cemetery. An easement for the right of way was granted to the railroad in perpetuity in 1912.
Most of the land for Nashville National Cemetery was acquired shortly after the Civil War. In July 1866, 45 acres were transferred to the United States from Morton B. Howell, master of the Chancery Court of Nashville, in accordance with the decree of the court. During the first few months of 1867, another 17 acres were conveyed in the same manner. The final portion, about 1-1/2 acres, was purchased by the United States in 1879 from J. Watts Judson.
The original interments were the remains of soldiers removed from temporary burial grounds around Nashville’s general hospitals, as well as the Civil War battlefields at Franklin and Gallatin, Tenn., and Bowling Green and Cave City, Ky. There are 4,141 unknowns interred at Nashville National Cemetery.
The stone wall around the cemetery and the limestone archway at the entrance were both constructed in 1870. At one time, rumors held that the remains of three Union soldiers were entombed at the top of the archway, but there is no evidence to support this claim. The present lodge, the third constructed at the cemetery, was built near the site of the original lodge and was completed in 1931.