To some it might be odd, but I like to visit National Cemeteries. The history is oh so rich at each of them. So for this post I want to share with you some of the history of Fort Smith National Cemetery as well as some photos and links to even more information.
Head into Fort Smith, Arkansas in order to visit the cemetery which is the oldest of the three National Cemeteries in the state. The first known burial was that of surgeon Thomas Russell, a War of 1812 veteran that spent his time at Fort Smith. He was buried in 1812 at what was the post cemetery for Fort Smith.
From roughly 1861-1863 the Fort was under control of the Confederate and in that time period many Confederate soldiers were buried at the post cemetery. This included 475 unknown Confederate soldiers.
The post cemetery became a national cemetery in 1867. It now is comprised of 31.3 and with the recent additions shall remain open until the year 2040. More than 13, 000 people lay at rest in the cemetery. There are some notable persons buried there. One of the famous is Judge Isaac Parker, also known as “the hanging judge”, Brigadier General William Orlando Darby,a local soldier best known for organizing the First Ranger Battalion in World War II, as well as Joel R. Stubblefield, a president of Westark College in Fort Smith.
A bit of trivia – many of the private headstones face west, opposite of the government headstones, in keeping with a religious tradition of the deceased feet to the east for ease of rising on Resurrection Day.
There are also several memorials in the cemetery – the Unknown Confederate Dead, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Pearl Harbor Memorial.
Another Fort Smith post – Famous Bordello in Arkansas
Part of the Travel With Me! series
(Note that the post has been changed since the original and some photos removed. I, with my aging memory, included some content from another local cemetery, Oak Cemetery. But don’t worry, they will come back with a new post on that cemetery!)