The very high death toll during the Civil War (1861-1865) confronted the War department with an urgent need to bury fallen soldiers. Actual burial places, as well as numbered headboards, and a death administration were provided and it gave start to a national cemetery system. By the end of 1862, 14 national cemeteries had been established. Nowadays there are 147 cemeteries found nationwide. National cemeteries generally contain the graves of U.S. military personnel, veterans and their spouses.
Santa Fe National Cemetery encompasses 31.8 ha, and over 59,000 interments. It is one of two national cemeteries in New Mexico.