500 Washington Avenue
This beautiful national cemetery was built on land donated to the federal government by Henry Greene Cole, a local innkeeper and Union sympathizer who spent a brief period of time in a Charleston jail at the end of the Civil War. Cole donated the land for burying both Union and Confederate soldiers, but the thought of Southern boys lying next to Northern invaders so riled up residents that only Union soldiers were buried there.
During the Civil War, forces under the command of General William Tecumseh Sherman moved in and occupied the town. For the next five months, federal troops held the city under siege. In November 1864, troops commanded by Union General Hugh Kilpatrick set the town on fire before embarking on their infamous “March to the Sea.”
Originally known as the “Marietta and Atlanta National Cemetery,” the Marietta National Cemetery was established in 1866 to provide a suitable resting place for the nearly 10,000 Union dead from Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign. Henry Cole, a local merchant who remained loyal to the Union throughout the war, offered land for a burial ground for both Union and Confederate dead. His hope was that by honoring those who had fallen together, others might learn to live in peace. Unfortunately, both sides clung to their bitterness and neither North nor South would accept Cole’s offer toward reconciliation. When this effort failed, 24 acres were offered to General George H. Thomas for use of a national cemetery. In 1867 a second offer of land by Cole was accepted and a subsequent purchase of additional acreage in 1870 brought the cemetery to its present size of a little over 23 acres.
The cemetery is located in downtown Marietta. From Atlanta take Interstate 75 North to North Marietta Parkway (Exit 265). Turn left at traffic light and proceed to Cole Street approximately one mile and turn left. Continue on Cole Street for four blocks. Cemetery is at the corner of Cole Street and Washington Avenue