Detail of gate post at Alexandria (VA) National Cemetery; Rows of unknown graves at Memphis National Cemetery; Directional sign post to Fort Gibson National Cemetery
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Civil War Era National Cemeteries: Honoring Those Who Served

Baxter Springs City Cemetery Soldiers' Lot

Baxter Springs, Kansas

Battle of Baxter Springs Monument and Cannon
Battle of Baxter Springs Monument and Cannon
Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs,
National Cemetery Administration, History Program

Baxter Springs City Cemetery Soldiers’ Lot is located two miles west of the city of Baxter Springs, in southeastern Kansas.  After a local campaign to commemorate the fallen, the United States founded the Soldiers’ Lot to provide a place of burial for the victims of the 1863 Battle of Baxter Springs.  A memorial to those who fought in the battle also resides in the lot.

On October 6, 1863, William Clarke Quantrill and his band of guerrilla raiders fighting on behalf of the Confederacy attacked the Union outpost of Fort Blair.  Quantrill’s forces numbered about 400 and were divided into two groups. On their approach to the fort, the first group, led by David Poole, was held at bay.  However, the second group, led by Quantrill himself, happened upon Union troops escorting Major General James G. Blunt to Fort Smith, Arkansas.  Only Blunt and a handful of his cavalry survived what came to be known to the Union as the “Baxter Springs Massacre.”

When the Federal Government planned to reinter the victims from the battlefield to Springfield National Cemetery in Springfield, Missouri, the citizens of Baxter Springs petitioned to bury them locally instead.  The city then agreed to donate land for the burials and to maintain the grounds in perpetuity.  Plots within the City Cemetery were donated piecemeal from 1869 to 1887, when the Soldiers’ Lot reached its current size.  Today, the lot sits just north of the cemetery’s entrance, enclosed by a simple post-and-chain fence.  A flagpole marks the entrance.

The first burials in the soldiers’ lot were 132 Union soldiers killed during the Battle of Baxter Springs.  After receiving a petition from more than 7,000 members of the local Grand Army of the Republic posts in support of a memorial, the United States dedicated the Battle of Baxter Springs Monument on Decoration (Memorial) Day in 1886.  Featuring the names of 163 Union soldiers and officers involved in the battle, the 20-foot tall granite monument is surmounted by a statue of a soldier standing at parade rest.  Four 24-pound cannons, dating to 1853, are set upright on granite bases near the monument.
Plan your visit

Baxter Springs City Cemetery Soldiers’ Lot is located within the confines of the Baxter Springs City Cemetery, on US 166 West, approximately 2 miles west of its intersection with Military Ave./US 69 in Baxter Springs, KS.  The Soldiers’ Lot is open for visitation daily from sunrise to sunset.  No cemetery staff is present onsite.  The administrative office is located at Leavenworth National Cemetery, and is open Monday-Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm, and is closed on all Federal holidays except for Memorial Day.  For more information, please contact the cemetery office at 913-758-4105, 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.

Baxter Springs City Cemetery Soldiers’ Lot was photographed to the standards established by the National Park Service’s Historic American Landscapes Survey.

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