Crown Hill's Two National Cemeteries
Crown Hill National Cemetery
In 1866, 708 Union soldiers who died during the Civil War and were originally buried at Greenlawn, were removed to Crown Hill and interred in a lot west of where the Gothic Chapel now stands. The United States government purchased this 1.37-acre lot to become the second of three national cemeteries in Indiana.
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 Indiana's longest running Memorial Day Ceremony (held annually since 1868) begins at 2:00 p.m. 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!
The "Confederate Mound," Crown Hill's second National Cemetery, is located on the north side of Section 32. This National Cemetey 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.