Finn’s Point National Cemetery is located about six miles northwest of Salem, N.J., at the north end of what was Fort Mott Military Reservation. Originally, the United States purchased the land for the construction of the Finn’s Point Battery to protect the Port of Philadelphia. By 1863, however, the grounds increasingly served as a burial site for Confederate prisoners of war who died while imprisoned at Fort Delaware.
An estimated 2,502 men died while imprisoned at Fort Delaware. Even prior to its designation as a national cemetery, the remains of POWs were transported to Finn’s Point across the river for burial. When weather or ice made trips to the mainland hazardous, it was necessary to bury the bodies on Pea Patch Island. On May 12, 1875, Virginia Gov. James L. Kemper wrote to the secretary of war concerning the neglected Confederate graves on Pea Patch Island. In response, Gen. E.D. Townsend advised the governor that Finn’s Point would be made a national cemetery and the remains of soldiers—both Union and Confederate — would be reinterred there. Finn’s Point was official declared a national cemetery Oct. 3, 1875.