Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery

(Frank) And here we are again on your Wednesday morning. (Deb) In the middle of May just about, unbelievable. (Frank) You know what we’ve been doing on the show we were just discussing while the last story was on and all that there are how many national cemeteries in the state of Kansas? (Deb) Five I believe. (Frank) Five of them, and so of course my co-host here has been visiting them and we’re doing stories on all of them. (Deb) Well they’re all obviously filled with heroes and each one of those has an amazing story and so obviously on Memorial Day in May take some time, I know Memorial weekend gets pretty busy for folks, but you don’t have to wait for Memorial Day to go visit one of these cemeteries. And most of them have, well Find A Grave is a fantastic internet tool but most of them will have a directory if there’s somebody that you’re looking for. A lot of times you can call ahead and get some kind of tour. The one we’re going to talk about today is Fort Leavenworth’s National Cemetery. There are actually two national cemeteries in Leavenworth. One is Off-Post and it is beautiful it’s just rolling hills and it’s obviously a little newer than the one On-Post, but they are beautiful. They’re just landscaped beautifully but the stories that are there are so powerful. (Frank) It’s really kind of an emotional trip. (Deb) It is. (Frank) Especially at Leavenworth because, like you say, it has the rolling hills and you get a perspective and you see all of these stones and it’s like that’s why we’re free. (Deb) Yes. Amen, brother. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs who manages our national cemeteries, Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery reflects the Fort’s changing role in our nation’s history. From its beginnings in 1827, a burying ground was necessary mostly due to the ravages of malaria and other diseases. Military tradition dictated two cemeteries, one of enlisted men and the other for officers. In 1858, the remains from both post cemeteries were re-interred into a single site on the military reservation. When Congress approved the creation of national cemeteries in 1862, the Fort Leavenworth Cemetery became one of 14 national cemeteries to be designated or established as such that year. Of the original 14 national cemeteries, Fort Leavenworth was the largest at more than 36 acres. In the years following the Civil War, the bodies of Union soldiers from St. Joseph, Kansas City and Independence, Missouri were re-interred at Fort Leavenworth. In addition, the cemetery was used as the burial ground for soldiers who served at frontier posts in Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and southern Wyoming. In 1870, the Inspector of National Cemeteries reported more than 1,000 Union soldiers interred at Fort Leavenworth along with roughly 170 citizens and 7 Confederate prisoners of war. The oldest known burial at Fort Leavenworth is that of Clarinda Dale who died September 21, 1844. She was originally interred in the old Fort Leavenworth Arsenal Cemetery. The oldest known military grave is that of Captain James Allen, first US Dragoons, who died in August 1846. Like Miss Dale, Captain Allen was originally buried in Fort Leavenworth Arsenal Cemetery and later moved to the National Cemetery. In 1886, soldiers originally buried at Fort Craig, New Mexico were re-interred at Fort Leavenworth to facilitate completion of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. Following the close of the Indian Wars and resettlement of Native Americans, the Army closed or consolidated many of its small military outposts in the West. As a result, between 1885 and 1907, the federal government vacated numerous military post cemeteries and re-interred nearly 2,000 remains at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery. The remains of Brigadier General Leavenworth, the fort’s namesake, were dis-interred from Woodland Cemetery in Delhi, New York, and re-interred in the National Cemetery on Memorial Day in 1902. The general died in 1834 at Cross Timbers in Indian Territory without knowing he had been promoted from colonel to brigadier general. A large granite marker topped with an eagle in repose was erected in 1910 to mark his grave. Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 15, 1999. Among the many Medal of Honor recipients who rest here is Second Lieutenant Tom Custer who died with his brother at the Little Bighorn.

(Frank) Wow, another half hour, poof, has gone by. I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And we’ll see you somewhere — (Deb and Frank) Around Kansas.