Florence National Cemetery

Location: 803 E National Cemetery Rd, Florence, SC 29506

The Florence National Cemetery that was established in 1865 after the American Civil War. It was formed around trench graves for Union prisoners who died at the Florence Stockade under the Confederacy. The first burials were done on Dr. James Jarrott’s plantation on September 17, 1864. Sixteen large trench graves became the National Cemetery. The smaller trench graves carried the remains of 2,322 men, and these were moved to the National Cemetery. 

Notable burials here include those of Florena Budwin and James Elliot Williams.

One of the five known burials in the original trenches was Florena Budwin. Before she was captured at Charleston in 1864, she disguised herself as a man to join the Union Army with her husband. She was sent to the Florence Stockade after being captured, and she fell ill. When a doctor examined her, he discovered her gender. She was placed with the women of Florence, where they gave her extra rations to help her recovery. Afterwards she became a Florence Stockade nurse before falling ill once again on January 23, 1865 and passing away. Her burial is now at Site 2480 of the National Cemetery, Section D. She is believed to be the first female service member buried there. 

James Elliott Williams was a South Carolinian native who enlisted in the U.S Navy in 1947. Known as Chief Boatswain’s Mate, he was one of the most highly decorated sailors in Navy history. His accolades included the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze the Star, the Purple Heart, and the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. In 1968, he received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Republic of Vietnam, Mekong Delta. On October 31, 1966, his patrol was attacked during a three hour battle, and he exposed himself to the enemy for his patrol to counter-fire the enemy. They took out 65 enemy boats and defeated guerilla forces. He returned home and retired from the Navy in 1967 and began a career in law enforcement. He passed away on October 13, 1999. Williams was buried in the same site as his wife, Section F, Site 177. 

There are two sections of the Florence National Cemetery that East National Road runs between. The main entrance has double iron gates on it. The second pedestrian gate is located on the east side and has a brick fence around it. This portion of the cemetery is the oldest and was donated by Dr. Jarrott in 1865. Two more acres were added to the cemetery in 1943, and it was expanded by one more acre in 1984. In 1998, the Department of Veteran Affairs had the cemetery placed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

The Florence National Cemetery is open for visitation during daylight hours each day.

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