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
Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
Civil War Era National Cemeteries: Honoring Those Who Served

Union Confederate Monument Site

Kansas City, Missouri

Unknown Confederate Gravesite Monument
Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs,
National Cemetery Administration, History Program

Somewhere among the 27 acres of Kansas City’s Union Cemetery lie the remains of 15 Confederate soldiers.  The men died while held as prisoners of war in Kansas City after the Battle of Westport.  Although their gravesites are unknown, the U.S. government erected a granite obelisk to commemorate the soldiers in 1911. Numerous veterans from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War are also buried in the cemetery, as are many prominent 19th century Kansas City residents. In 1849, a cholera epidemic hit the Missouri towns of Westport and Kansas (now Kansas City).  With the towns’ respective cemeteries near capacity, they decided to form a “union” and establish a new cemetery between the municipalities.  The Missouri state legislature authorized a corporation, which eventually selected a 49-acre site between the two towns for Union Cemetery.

Westport, located south of Kansas City, became an important disembarkation point for travelers heading west along the Santa Fe, Oregon, and California trails.  Its location and trail status also made the town a target during the Civil War.  Because Missouri was a border state, the Confederacy considered the capture of Missouri a critical goal.  In October 1864, Confederate forces raided several towns in Kansas and Missouri.  Confederate and Union forces met in Westport on October 23, 1864.  More than 30,000 soldiers and cavalrymen fought in the battle, making it one of the largest confrontations west of the Mississippi River.  Union troops forced the Confederate raiders into retreat, preventing Confederate control over Missouri.

In 1897, Kansas City annexed Westport.  By the early 20th century, conditions in Union Cemetery declined, forcing the cemetery’s management association to sell off 18 undeveloped acres of the property.  In 1937, the association transferred ownership to the municipal government of Kansas City.  Today, the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department manages the cemetery.

In 1911, the U.S. government erected a 15-foot-tall granite obelisk as a memorial to 15 Confederate prisoners of war buried in Union Cemetery.  Union troops captured the soldiers during the Battle of Westport. Originally buried in another city cemetery, the remains were later reinterred in Union Cemetery.  However, the exact location of the gravesites was lost. Because individual grave markers could not be erected, the obelisk to the 15 men was installed on the cemetery’s grounds.  The dedication ceremony on October 22, 1911, featured an invocation by a local reverend and a speech by the Kansas City mayor. The bronze panels on the obelisk carry inscriptions that list the soldiers and explain the unknown whereabouts of their graves.

Many prominent Kansas City residents were also interred at Union Cemetery, including veterans from the War of 1812 and later conflicts. Civil War veteran and Missouri artist George Caleb Bingham is interred in the eastern section of the cemetery.
Plan your visit

Union Cemetery Monument Site is located at 227 E. 28th Terrace in Kansas City, MO, within Union Cemetery. Leavenworth National Cemetery oversees the monument site; its administrative office is open Monday-Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm. The office; it is closed on all Federal holidays except for Memorial Day.  For more information about the monument site, please contact the Leavenworth National Cemetery office at 913-758-4105, or see the Department of Veterans Affairs website.

Union Cemetery is open for visitation daily from sunrise to sunset. The Union Cemetery Historical Society is a nonprofit association working with the Kansas City government to collect data about the cemetery and those buried on the property.  The society’s records and files are open to the public and available in the sexton’s cottage. While visiting, be mindful that our national cemeteries and Confederate cemeteries and monument sites are hallowed ground, and be respectful to all of our nation’s fallen soldiers and their families.  Additional cemetery policies may be posted on site.

The Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area encompasses 41 counties in eastern Kansas and western Missouri along the Kansas-Missouri border.  Before and during the Civil War, this region became a crucible of conflict between pro-slavery forces in Missouri and those who sought to keep Kansas as a free state. The national heritage area works with public and private partners to interpret and share the story of “Bleeding Kansas” and the continuing stories of the struggles for freedom of other groups, including American Indians and women.

Union Cemetery Monument Site
was photographed to the standards established by the National Park Service’s Historic American Landscape Survey. 

Next page
Comments or Questions

Itinerary Home | List of sites | Maps | Learn More | Credits | Other Itineraries | NR Home | Search