Crown Hill's Two National Cemeteries 

 
 
Crown Hill National Cemetery

More than 700 Civil War Union soldiers who died in city hospitals were originally buried in Greenlawn Cemetery. In November 1866, the federal government hired local undertaker William Weaver to supervise the removal of the dead. Weaver’s men relocated the remains of 712 soldiers from Greenlawn to Crown Hill National Cemetery. All but 36 were identified.

The new national cemetery occupied 1.37 acres (Section 10) within Crown Hill Cemetery. The government paid $5,000 for the lot. On May 30, 1868, the first Decoration (Memorial) Day observance at Crown Hill National Cemetery was held, and they’ve been held annually in the same location every year since, making it the longest consecutively held Memorial Day ceremony in Indiana.

In 2011, land adjacent to the national cemetery (Section 9) that contains many Civil War dead was donated to the Federal Government. Combined, Sections 9 and 10 cover 2.5 acres and hold the remains of 2,043 veterans.


Memorial Day at Crown Hill National Cemetery

In 1868 the first "Decoration Day" ceremony in Indianapolis was celebrated at the Crown Hill National Cemetery, highlighted by a speech by Governor Conrad Baker. This traditional ceremony recurs each May on Memorial Day with the full support and participation of the Indiana Army National Guard. A patriotic Band Concert begins at 1:30 pm and the Annual Memorial Day Ceremony begins at 2:00 p.m. This important ceremony, honoring the courage of heroes, features speakers, music, and a 21-howitzer cannon salute. Following the ceremony, a free, one-hour guided "Veterans" walking tour is offered. 

Approximately 1,000 people attend our current Memorial Day Ceremony; we have news accounts from the mid-1940s (WWII era) indicating that 70,000 - 100,000 people were in attendance. The Indianapolis 500 motor race was originally held on Memorial Day (in 1974 it was moved to the Sunday before), and for many years out-of-town guests would get caught in the traffic line to get into Crown Hill and ended up in the cemetery instead of inside the track!




Confederate Mound

The "Confederate Mound," Crown Hill's second National Cemetery, is located on the north side of Section 32. This National Cemetery is the final resting place of 1,616 Confederate prisoners of war. These soldiers died while confined at Camp Morton (located on the site of the old Fair Grounds, then located just north of the city, where a historical marker erected at 1900 N. Alabama), from 1862-65. Most of these prisoners died at City Hospital and were originally buried in City Cemetery, later known as Greenlawn, which eventually became full and closed. The area was zoned for industrial use and all non-military burials were removed by 1924. The War Department had the Confederate dead removed to Crown Hill Cemetery in 1931.

 A two-year project to identify these veterans was led by Indianapolis Police Officers Steve Staletovich and Wayne Sharp. As a result, ten bronze plaques mounted on granite bases were placed at the site. Each bears the names of all Southerners who died at Camp Morton. The monument and plaques were rededicated on October 3, 1993, in a ceremony that included representatives from 14 former Confederate states and territories.

Each year on Memorial Day, numerous Civil War reenactment units honor these soldiers in a special ceremony held in front of the Confederate Mound at 12:45 p.m. Included in the ceremony are numerous rifle and cannon salutes. Following their salutes at the Confederate Mound, the CW Reenactors will march to the Crown Hill National Cemetery and fire volley salutes to the fallen Union soldiers buried there.