Visitors are moved by the drive through Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, and they often ask Cabrillo National Monument rangers and volunteers a number of questions about the cemetery.
Here are some quick facts and historical points about Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery:
- Fort Rosecrans was named after William Starke Rosecrans, a Union general in the American Civil War.
- It is approximately 77.5 acres in area.
- There are over 101,000 persons from all service branches buried in the cemetery.
- The first burial was in 1882 when the remains of 19 fallen soldiers of the Battle of San Pasqual (December 6 and 7, 1846) during the Mexican-American War were relocated to Fort Rosecrans.
- The battle dead were initially buried where they fell, but in 1874 they were relocated to the San Diego Military Reservation.
- Eight years later in 1882, the remains were once again relocated to Fort Rosecrans.
- Fort Rosecrans was designated a national cemetery on October 5, 1934.
- Fort Rosecrans was closed to most new casket burials in 1966, and its columbaria were closed to new cremated remains in 2014.
There are a number of large monuments and memorials within the cemetery, and perhaps one of the most prominent is the large granite obelisk commemorating the 62 crew members of the USS Bennington lost in a boiler explosion in San Diego harbor on July 21, 1905.
There are 23 Medal of Honor recipients buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.
You can read more about the cemetery, its monuments, and its notable persons here.
Last revised 14-Jun-14
4 thoughts on “Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery”
Wow, a wonderful and timely review of our beloved National Cemetery. I’m curious, you note that in 1874 the bodies of fallen from Battle of San Pasqual were relocated to San Diego Military Reservation. Was that in Old Town, but I think SDMR is ultimately Fort Rosecrans, right? I thought those bodies were moved to Old Town after initial burying where they fell. It’s all such wonderful history, and I’m glad you have put out this notable piece. Thank you, CNM staff.
I think that Ft Rosecrans is the largest military cemetery in the western United States and second in size only to Arlington Cemetery.
According to Seth Mallios and David M. Caterino in their book “Cemeteries of San Diego,” the San Pasquale Battlefield dead were moved three times. Killed in 1846, they were buried where they lay. In 1848, they were exhumed and moved to “Government Graveyard” in Old Town. In 1874 the bodies were moved to a mass grave near “Hill 80” which is today’s Midway Drive and West Point Loma Blvd. In 1889, they reached their final resting place at Ft. Rosecrans.