Dade Pyramids - St. Augustine, Florida
Dade Pyramids - St. Augustine, Florida
These three pyramids at St.
Augustine National Cemetery
mark the resting place of
1,468 soldiers who died in
the Second Seminole War.
St. Augustine National Cemetery - St. Augustine, Florida
|St. Augustine National Cemetery
Created in 1882 to allow for the better care of the
graves in St. Augustine's historic U.S. burial ground,
the St. Augustine National Cemetery is the final
resting place of Major Francis Dade and his men.
Location of the Dade Pyramids
St. Augustine National Cemetery is located
just steps from both St. Francis Barracks and
the Oldest House in historic St. Augustine,
Created in 1882 to better care for the military
burial ground adjoining St. Francis Barracks,
the cemetery is the location of the noted
Dade Pyramids. Beneath these are buried
Major Francis Dade, the soldiers of his ill-
fated command and more than 1,000 men
who died during the Second Seminole War
The site of St. Augustine National Cemetery
holds an important place in the long and
colorful history of the nation's oldest city. It
was part of a parcel assigned to Franciscan
priests in 1588. St. Augustine was then 23
On the parcel that includes today's cemetery,
the priests of the Order of St. Francis built a
convent monastery and the church of Nuestra
Senora de la Concepcion. The church and
convent were built of logs with roofs thatched
from palm fronds and were completed more
than 30 years before the Pilgrims held their
first Christian services at Plymouth Rock.
The site was converted for military use in
1763 when the British gained possession of
Florida from Spain at the end of the Seven
Years War. What had been the Convent of St.
Francis became the St. Francis Barracks. It
was a classic case of beating plowshares
From 1763 until today, the site of the old
church and convent has remained in use for
military purposes. Spanish troops returned in
1783, then turned the barracks over to U.S.
soldiers in 1821.
The U.S. Army selected part of the grounds
near the old St. Francis Barracks for use as a
military burial ground. The American soldiers
suffered from fevers and sickness in Florida
and the cemetery slowly grew.
The largest interment in the history of the
cemetery took place when the army decided
to collect the remains of all of the men who
had died in the Second Seminole War (1835-
1842) and bury them in a single cemetery.
A total of 1,462 bodies were exhumed from
graves at forts and battlefields across the
state and brought to the Post Cemetery in St.
Augustine for burial. Among these were the
remains of Major Francis Dade and the men
of his command. Their command had been
wiped out at Dade's Battle on December 28,
The vaults containing the remains of the
Seminole War soldiers were capped with
pyramids to create a unique memorial. The
monuments are known today as the Dade
Pyramids in honor of the unfortunate major
and his men.
Gen. Montgomery Meigs, the Quartermaster
General of the United States, recommended
turning the old Post Cemetery into a national
cemetery in 1882. Other officials agreed and
the St. Augustine National Cemetery was
established to assure that the graves would
be cared for in perpetuity. The cemetery was
overgrown and neglected at the time.
Major Dade's Command
A marker near the cemetery
entrance notes that it is the
burial place of Major Francis
Dade and his men.
|Copyright 2011 & 2013 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Update: November 16, 2013
Other burials of note in the cemetery include
members of Teddy Roosevelt's Rough
Riders of Spanish American War fame and
Margaret Worth, the wife of Gen. William
Jennings Worth. He was one of the U.S.
Army's commanders in Florida during the
Second Seminole War.
Beneath a cross just to one side of the Dade
Pyramids is the often overlooked grave of
Brig. Gen. M.D. Hardin. He was a friend of
Abraham Lincoln and it was at his home that
a young Lincoln met his future wife, Mary
An 1859 graduate of the U.S. Military
Academy at West Point, Gen. Hardin served
on the Union side during the War Between
the States (Civil War). He lost an arm during
the Mine Run Campaign but remained in the
army until 1870. It is a little known fact that he
served as an aide to Col. Robert E. Lee at the
hanging of the insurrectionist John Brown.
He spent his last years in St. Augustine,
dying there in 1923.
The cemetery reached its capacity during the
20th century and is no longer open for new
The St. Augustine National Cemetery borders
historic St. Francis Barracks, the head-
quarters of the Florida National Guard. It is
open to the public daily 8 a..m. to 5 p.m. and
from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Memorial Day. The
cemetery is free to visit.
The address for the main entrance is 104
Marine Street. You will find it just south of the
intersection of Marine and St. Francis streets.
Please click here to learn more about St.
Augustine National Cemetery.
Grave of a Rough Rider
Trooper James O'Neil was a
member of Teddy Rooseelt's
famed Rough Riders during
the Spanish American War.
The cemetery is no longer
open for new burials, but is
carefully tended in honor of
the men and women interred
Grave of Gen. M.D. Hardin
Abraham Lincoln met Mary
Todd Lincoln at the home of
Martin Davis Hardin, who later
became a Union general.
Historic Forts in Florida