On great fields something stays.
Forms change and pass;
bodies disappear; but spirits linger,
to consecrate ground for the
vision-place of souls.
And reverent men and women from afar,
and generations that know us not
and that we know not of,
heart-drawn to see where and by whom
great things were suffered and done for them,
shall come to this deathless field
to ponder and dream;
And lo! the shadow of a mighty presence
shall wrap them in its bosom,
and the power of the vision pass into their souls."
-- Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
Once the Civil War began, the Confederates found themselves with large numbers of Union prisoners captured in the Battle of Manassas. These POWs were then transported to Richmond, where they were initially housed in facilities such as Ligon's Warehouse and Tobacco Factory and many others like it. However, to reduce the high prison population in the Confederate capital, hundreds of Union POWs were relocated to six tobacco warehouses in downtown Danville, Va. These six facilities held just over 7,000 officers and enlisted men, 1,400 of whom died of such scourges as smallpox and dysentery brought on by starvation.Danville National Cemetery was established in December 1866 on 2.63 acres, about a mile from the railroad station. With the exception of the remains of four soldiers from the Sixth Army Corps, all original interments in the cemetery were Union POWs who died in the prison. The principal cause of death was disease. Many of the bodies of Union Soldiers who died in Danville’s prisons were buried in mass graves.Danville National Cemetery has no monuments or memorials.