When researching ancestors, genealogists sometimes learn that those ancestors died while serving in the militia or armed forces. Where were the soldiers buried? What resources contain that type of information? The answers depend on the year in which each death occurred.
Previous to the 1860s, soldiers who died during military service were usually buried at or near the battlefield, hospital or military post where the death occurred. In some instances, the family of a soldier transported the remains for burial in a cemetery in the community where the family lived.
The location of burials began to change during the Civil War because of the large number of deaths. In 1862, our government established 14 national cemeteries. One of those was the Fort Scott National Cemetery, located at 900 East National Ave. in Fort Scott, Kansas.
The task of organizing burials of a large number of soldiers was daunting. Even though soldiers sometimes wrote their names on paper or scratched their names on objects in their pockets, many soldiers died without any identification.
Additional national cemeteries were established in 1867. One of those was the Springfield National Cemetery, located at 1702 East Seminole. Many of those burials are of soldiers killed during the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, which was fought in 1861.
At the end of that battle, some remains were hastily buried at the battlefield, while other remains were not. Of the burials at the national cemetery, 832 are known interments, but 689 were never identified.
The Fayetteville National Cemetery, located at 700 Government Ave. in Fayetteville, Arkansas, was also started in 1867. Those graves are arranged in a circular pattern around a flagpole. A 7-foot brick wall surrounds it. Both Union and Confederate soldiers who were killed in 1862 at the Battle of Pea Ridge and the Battle of Prairie Grove are buried there. Similar to other national cemeteries, many interments are not identified.
The Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, located at 2900 Sheridon Road in St. Louis, is located at the site of the first military post west of the Mississippi. The first burial there was around 1826. More than 10,000 remains of soldiers from other cemeteries have been moved to that site on the bluffs overlooking the river. It officially became a national cemetery in 1866.
The Jefferson City National Cemetery was officially recognized in 1867.
Burials still occur at the Fort Scott and St. Louis cemeteries. The old Springfield cemetery limits burials to cremated remains. According to current guidelines, national cemetery burials are limited to veterans who served in armed forces and were discharged honorably; spouses, widows and widowers; unmarried adult children with disabilities; and those who died during service or during training duty.
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