From the Richmond Dispatch, 5/31/1871, p. 1, c. 6
Honors to the Federal Dead.
The National Cemetery on the Williamsburg road was visited by an immense crowd (consisting for the most part of colored persons) in compliance with an order of the Grand Army of the Republic setting apart that day for the decoration of the graves of the Federal soldiers who fell in the civil war. The weather was propitious during the forenoon, and many graves having been strewn with flowers, the cemetery presented a most attractive appearance. The walks were thronged with men, women, and children, and a large crowd gathered about the central arbor, spent several hours in singing, making the air ring with religious and patriotic airs.
The event of the day was an oration by Rev. R. A. Miller, pastor of the Northern Methodist Church. It was happily conceived, well written, and delivered with an earnestness that told powerfully upon the large audience. He paid a glowing tribute to the Union dead, and besought his hearers never to forget to honor those who freely shed their heart’s life-blood to uphold the Stars and Stripes and to give four million slaves their freedom.
Early in the afternoon there was a fall of rain, which caused many to return to their homes much earlier than they otherwise would, and the omnibuses, hacks, and wagons at the gate were not numerous enough to supply the demand for vehicles. Hundreds, however, continued to linger among the tombs until nightfall.
We had almost forgotten to state that three colored volunteer companies marched to the cemetery, and attracted considerable attention. They were the Attucks Guard, the Richmond Zouaves, and the Lincoln Union Mounted Guards. The first and second-named companies presented a very good appearance; the last had very few men on parade, and spent but a short time at the cemetery.