View of wooden markers at Dayton National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers cemetery, now Dayton National Cemetery; Entrance to Alexandria (VA) National Cemetery, circa 1865; Rostrum, circa 1890, Loudon Park National Cemetery
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Civil War Era National Cemeteries: Honoring Those Who Served

Fayetteville National Cemetery

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Fayetteville National Cemetery
Fayetteville National Cemetery
Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs,
National Cemetery Administration, History Program
Fayetteville National Cemetery, located in Fayetteville, Arkansas, opened in 1867 to serve as the final resting place for soldiers killed in action during the nearby Civil War Battles of Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove.  The cemetery retains its 1890 southern entrance gates and portions of the 1926 brick wall by the entrance.  Veterans of the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried in Fayetteville National Cemetery.

At Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove, Confederate forces occupied strategic positions, however, they were unable to capitalize on their advantages and Union forces won both battles.  On March 2, 1862 at Pea Ridge, 30 miles northwest of Fayetteville, 10,500 Union troops outflanked 16,000 Confederates and bombarded them with artillery fire, preventing a Confederate advance into Missouri.  Nine months later at the Battle of Prairie Grove, the Confederate troops attempted to strike two groups of Union soldiers separately, but Union Brigadier Generals Blunt and Herron were able to combine their forces just before the battle.  Though the casualties were even, Union troops forced the Confederates to retreat across the Arkansas River, effectively ending the fight for northwest Arkansas, and opening the door for future Union victories at Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Little Rock.

Recognizing the need for proper burial grounds for those killed in the Arkansas campaigns, the Federal Government established the Fayetteville National Cemetery in 1867.  The Union had more than 2,300 total casualties at Pea Ridge and 2,700 at Prairie Grove.  Reinterred remains from nearby battlefields account for many of the earliest burials at Fayetteville.

The cemetery’s original design resembles a “compass rose” with the graves arranged in a circular pattern around the central flagpole with grass pathways radiating outward, dividing the cemetery into sections.  As the cemetery ran out of burial space, it became necessary to fill in these pathways, leaving the original layout virtually unrecognizable.

A simple wooden fence originally enclosed the cemetery, but in 1874, the U.S. Army Quartermaster General’s office constructed a seven-foot tall brick wall around the site’s perimeter.  A shorter concrete and brick wall with tile coping replaced this in 1926.  In 1999, a metal picket fence with brick columns replaced most of this brick wall, though a small portion remains on either side of the cemetery’s 1890 southern entrance.   The cemetery’s northern gate dates to 1940.

Site plan
1893 Site Plan of Fayetteville National Cemetery.
Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration
(click on image to enlarge)

The first superintendent’s lodge, a wood-frame, two-room cottage located just outside the main gate was demolished in 1870 to accommodate a new 1½-story lodge.  This lodge, designed in the vernacular Second Empire style, featured a raised sandstone foundation, a brick exterior, and a distinctive mansard roof with slate shingles; in 1991, this lodge too was razed.  In 1997, the VA added a modern administrative building, a service building, and a brick committal shelter.

A carillon donated by the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation in 2000 sits just inside the main entrance.  Donated in the 1990s, the Revolutionary War Soldier Memorial is dedicated to 26 veterans who moved to Arkansas after the American Revolutionary War.  Other monuments at the cemetery include the 1st Marine Division Memorial and the Chosin Few memorial, dedicated to the U.S. soldiers who fought at the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.

Fayetteville National Cemetery is the final resting place for a recipient of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration, given for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”

Plan your visit

Fayetteville National Cemetery is located at 700 Government Ave., in Fayetteville, AR.  The cemetery is open for visitation daily from sunrise to sunset; the administrative office is open Monday-Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm, and is closed all federal holidays except for Memorial Day.  For more information, please contact the cemetery office at 479-444-5051, or see the Department of Veterans Affairs website.  While visiting, please be mindful that our national cemeteries are hallowed ground.  Be respectful to all of our nation’s fallen soldiers and their families.  Additional cemetery policies may be posted on site.

Visitors to the Fayetteville National Cemetery may also be interested in the Battle of Pea Ridge National Military Park or the Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park.  The Battle of Prairie Grove is the subject of an online lesson plan, The Battle of Prairie Grove: Civilian Recollections of the Civil War.  The lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service’s Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places.  To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

Fayetteville National Cemetery was photographed to the standards established by the National Park Service’s Historic American Landscapes Survey. The 1870 superintendent’s lodge (now demolished) at Fayetteville National Cemetery has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.

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