Philadelphia National Cemetery was one of 14 national cemeteries established in 1862 and was intended to be used to inter the remains of the soldiers who died in one of the many hospitals in the Philadelphia area. Over 11,500 veterans and family members are buried at the cemetery. Philadelphia National Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
Few people realize that over 1,000 black Civil War soldiers and sailors are buried in a segregated section of the cemetery, several hundred of whom died in area hospitals while serving at Camp William Penn, Cheltenham Township, about a mile from the cemetery. For the most part, the soldiers were commonly called USCT (United States Colored Troops). Philadelphia National Cemetery has the highest number of black Civil War soldiers and sailors buried in one section of a cemetery per number of total interments than any place in the country. Camp William Penn trained and sent off to war 11 regiments of USCT.