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Civil War Era National Cemeteries: Honoring Those Who Served

Springfield National Cemetery

Springfield National Cemetery

Springfield National Cemetery
Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration, History Programme

Springfield National Cemetery was established in 1867 on prairie land southward of Springfield, Missouri.  Today, the cemetery’south eighteen acres are bounded past residential neighborhoods and commercial areas.  Initially created as a final resting identify for Spousal relationship soldiers who died in battle near Springfield, the cemetery now contains the remains of veterans from other wars, including the Revolutionary War, Spanish-American War, and World War 2.  The Springfield National Cemetery also includes a six-acre portion established past the Confederate Cemetery Association in 1871. An act of Congress in 1911 authorized the Secretarial assistant of War to accept the Confederate cemetery every bit a role of the Springfield National Cemetery.

Springfield, Missouri, lies on the Springfield Plateau of the Ozark Mountains, which gives the city its nickname, “Gateway of the Ozarks.”  First settled in 1829 by John Polk Campbell, the expanse quickly became an established settlement with stores, mills, and a mail role, and was incorporated every bit a town in 1838.

Although Missouri voted to stay in the Union, Confederate sympathies ran strong throughout the land.  On August x, 1861, the first major Civil State of war appointment west of the Mississippi River occurred ten miles south of Springfield.  More than 5,000 Matrimony troops and 12,000 Confederate forces clashed at Wilson’s Creek.  The battle concluded in a Amalgamated victory, but disorganization and bad planning prevented Southern forces from capitalizing on their success.  The boxing is significant, marking the offset death of a Wedlock General in combat; Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon died during a Union accuse, felled by a Amalgamated bullet.

After the Ceremonious War, the city of Springfield purchased 80 acres of prairie for a cemetery, and granted the U.South. authorities the privilege of selecting a plot for a national cemetery.  Five acres were selected on the highest ground and purchased for $37.50 an acre.  The Springfield National Cemetery was officially established in 1867, and many of the men who died in the Battle of Wilson’south Creek were cached there. Additionally, the remains of Spousal relationship troops buried in several Missouri counties were removed and reinterred in the new cemetery.

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In 1871, a Confederate cemetery was established adjacent to the national cemetery, containing roughly six acres total with an surface area of 2.7 acres enclosed by a wall.  In March 1911, Congress authorized the Secretary of War to accept the Amalgamated cemetery every bit function of the Springfield National Cemetery.  A deed restriction prevented the burial of anyone other than Amalgamated war machine veterans inside the boundaries of the quondam Amalgamated cemetery.

Site Plan

1893 Site Programme of Springfield National Cemetery

Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration

(click on image to enlarge)

Afterward Earth War II, the Department of the Army expanded the national cemetery, receiving approval from the Amalgamated Cemetery Association to use areas inside the boundaries of the old Confederate cemetery merely exterior the enclosed area.  In the 1980s, given the many unoccupied graves inside the area restricted for Confederate burials, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Confederate Cemetery Association of Missouri agreed to permit burials of all veterans in the area within the enclosure wall.  In 1984, the Daughters of the Confederacy dedicated a plaque on a monument in the old Confederate department, stating that the area’s “apply past all veterans and their dependents serves as a symbol of unification of purpose for memorializing those who have honorably served this great nation….”

The national cemetery’south original v acres were laid out in a square pattern, with evenly spaced paths crossing perpendicularly and diagonally.  A limestone wall, capped with sandstone slabs, lines the perimeter of the original grounds.  The wall, constructed in 1874, replaced a wooden watch fence.  At the center of the original grounds is a circle with a flagpole and four artillery monuments.  Immediately due west of the front entrance gate stands the cemetery’south administration building, a two-story brick structure with a slate hipped roof.  Built in 1940, the brick building served every bit a home and role for the cemetery’southward superintendent. Renovated in 1996, the edifice today is used solely for authoritative purposes.  At the northwest corner of the original cemetery grounds stands a brick service edifice synthetic prior to 1933; information technology has been extensively modified since it was congenital.

Also located on the grounds of the cemetery is a rectangular stone-block rostrum.  Congenital between the Confederate and Union portions of the cemetery, the rostrum resembles a miniature Greek temple and features speakers’ lecterns on both sides for patriotic and memorial observances. Bronze plaques on the rostrum’s south side face toward the Confederate graves.  One plaque references the Confederate soldiers buried there and the battles in which they died, notably the Boxing of Wilson’s Creek.  The other plaques state the establishment dates of the Confederate cemetery and the installation of the cemetery’southward carillon in 1979.  On the rostrum’south north side, facing Union graves, a single plaque is inscribed with a memorial to the veterans of the Vietnam War.

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Several large commemorative monuments stand on the cemetery’s grounds.  Two are located just east of the assistants building. The oldest is a memorial honoring Brigadier Full general Nathaniel Lyon, the commanding officer at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek and the beginning Union General to die in the Civil War.  The 12-foot-alpine monument, erected in 1888 by the citizens of Springfield, is a marble pillar topped with a knight’s helmet, battle axe, and wreath.  Nearby the Lyon monument, a Wedlock memorial stands 25-feet alpine. Erected in 1907 in accordance with the bequest of local doctor T.J. Bailey, information technology features a life-sized statue of an infantry soldier and is inscribed with a commemoration honoring the Union expressionless.  The other side of the monument has an inscription stating that the monument was “erected under the provisions of the terminal will of Dr. Thomas Bailey to prove his love for the Union and its gallant defenders”


Original wall, Springfield National Cemetery
Courtesy of the Section of Veterans Diplomacy, National Cemetery Administration, History Program

Deputed by the United Confederate Veterans of Missouri in 1901, Italian sculptor Chevalier Trentanove created a bronze figure of a Amalgamated soldier to honor both the Confederate soldiers of Missouri and Full general Sterling Toll, a former governor of Missouri and the Confederate commander at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek.  The front of the monument features a bronze bas-relief portrait of Cost.  Besides located inside the old Confederate cemetery grounds is a granite marker, placed in 1958 by the Daughters of the Confederacy, honoring the unknown Confederate dead at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek.

Erected in recent years, other monuments at the Springfield National Cemetery include a granite and bronze memorial to those who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.  The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association dedicated the memorial in 1992. In 1999, the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution installed a granite monument in honor of those who died in the Revolutionary State of war.  A Revolutionary State of war veteran, Private William Freeman, is buried at Springfield National Cemetery.   Freeman was a North Carolina militia member who served as a lookout man for Full general George Washington. Freeman’due south grave is located near the Full general Lyon Memorial.

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Other notable burials in the Springfield National Cemetery include v Buffalo Soldiers.  Members of African American army regiments created after the Ceremonious War, the “Buffalo Soldiers” protected settlers moving west, built and renovated Army posts and camps, and maintained law and order in the western expanses of the country.

Springfield National Cemetery is also the final resting identify of five recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest war machine decoration, given for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”

Program your visit

Springfield National Cemetery is located at 1702 East Seminole St. in Springfield, MO.  The cemetery is open up for visitation daily from dawn to dusk; however, limited cemetery staff are nowadays on site. Springfield National Cemetery is overseen past the administrative office at Jefferson Billet National Cemetery in St. Louis, MO, It is open Monday-Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm, and is closed on Christmas and New Twelvemonth’s Day.  For more than information, please contact the cemetery office at 314-845-8320, or see the Department of Veterans Affairs website. While visiting, delight be mindful that our national cemeteries are hallowed ground.  Be respectful to all of our nation’due south fallen soldiers and their families.  Additional cemetery policies may be posted on site.

Located near the cemetery is the site of the Boxing of Wilson’due south Creek, the first major battle of the Civil War fought west of the Mississippi River.  Now a national battlefield managed past the National Park Service, the site includes a museum and paths for hiking, driving and cycling.

Springfield National Cemetery was photographed to the standards established by the National Park Service’due south Celebrated American Landscapes Survey.