From the Richmond Dispatch, 5/31/1870, p. 1, c. 3
FEDERAL MEMORIAL DAY – DECORATION OF GRAVES AT THE NATIONAL CEMETERY. – Yesterday was the day set apart by the organization known as the Grand Army of the Republic for the decoration of the graves of the Union dead, and known as “Decoration Day” to distinguish it from the southern “Memorial Day.” It was observed particularly in Richmond by the branch of the Grand Army of the Republic located in this city, and by the closing of the post-office, custom-house, and public schools.
By 10 o’clock in the morning a considerable number of ladies and gentlemen and many colored people had assembled at the National Cemetery, on the Williamsburg road, and before noon upon nearly every one of the graves a floral tribute had been laid. There were no public exercises except music and prayer and the decoration of the graves, and the day passed without incident worthy of note.
This cemetery was established by the United States Government in September, 1866, and was completed in September, 1867. In it are interred the bodies of the prisoners of war who died at the various Confederate prisons and prison hospitals in and about Richmond; also, the remain of many other Union soldiers who died or were killed in Virginia. It covers eight acres of ground, beautifully laid out and divided into sections and divisions. Every grave is sodded, numbered, and neatly marked, and scattered about throughout the grounds are tablets on which are inscribed appropriate patriotic verses. The number of graves is 4,995, and the number of bodies interred therein is 6,276, and it is remarked that there are fewer unknown graves than are found in other national cemeteries in this State.