During the Civil War, New Albany became a strategic supply and training center for the Union Army. Federal officials turned the Floyd County Fairgrounds into Camp Noble and converted local schools into hospitals. As casualties mounted, a burial ground became essential. In July 1862, Congress gave President Abraham Lincoln the authority “to purchase cemetery grounds and cause them to be securely enclosed, to be used as a national cemetery for the soldiers who shall die in the service of the country.” Federal authorities subsequently established fourteen national cemeteries, including one on the northeast side of New Albany. Today, New Albany National Cemetery is home to nearly 6,000 graves, including more than 700 unknown Union soldiers.
Civil War-era burials in the cemetery include the remains of men who died in New Albany hospitals and at battlefields in Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia. By 1870, the cemetery had more than 2,500 internments, including a large number of United States Colored Troops. Subsequent burials include veterans of the Indian Wars, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War.
The main entrance to the cemetery is located on Ekin Avenue and features stone peers and a double steel gate. The site is rectangular and encompasses 6.3 acres. The graves are organized around three circular plots set in a row and connected by a linear drive. The first circle contains the cemetery flagpole. The cemetery is enclosed by low sandstone walls with limestone copping. The most prominent features are a rostrum, built in 1931; two monuments, each made out of cast-iron seacoast artillery tubes; and a maintenance building at the southeast corner. A plaque located immediately outside the cemetery on Ekin Avenue summarizes the history of the site and the burials present.
The 1882 History of the Ohio Falls Counties noted, “the government has decorated this cemetery in a manner to make it one of the most beautiful in the country.” By then, local citizens had formed a cemetery association to assist in managing the grounds. Today, the New Albany National Cemetery is a vital reminder of the struggle to end slavery and its costs.