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

Jefferson City National Cemetery

Jefferson City, Missouri

Meigs' Superintendent's lodge
Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration, History Program
Located a quarter-mile southeast of the state capitol building, the Jefferson City National Cemetery was established in 1867 as a burial place for Union soldiers who died in the area.  While the city saw little military action in the war, the Union maintained a strong force in the city, whose residents were sympathetic to the secessionist cause.  Jefferson City National Cemetery retains many of its original features, including its superintendent’s lodge. 

As the drums of discontent began beating before the Civil War, Jefferson City was a town torn between the North and the South.  In May 1861, Jefferson City residents took to the streets around the state capitol, demanding secession from the Union.  An influx of Federal troops determined to keep Missouri in the Union negated residents’ calls for secession.  Given the public’s sentiments, the Union held Jefferson City under martial law until 1865.

The Jefferson City National Cemetery features a rectangular layout that has changed little since the 1860s.  Union troop burials at the cemetery occurred as early as 1861, long before its official establishment as a national cemetery in 1867.  The grounds are surrounded by an ashlar stone wall, which replaced the original wooden fence in 1871.  Today, the stone wall still stands along three sides of the cemetery.  On the fourth side, by the main entrance at McCarty Street, a wrought-iron fence replaced the stone wall in 1937. The entrance is flanked by limestone pillars supporting large iron gates.

Beyond the entrance gate, a central drive extends through the length of the grounds, ending at a rostrum at the southern end of the cemetery. Constructed in 1942, the rostrum’s design is similar to others built during this period by the Federal Government.  Resembling a Greek temple, the limestone rostrum features Doric columns at the front elevation and three Roman arches at the rear.  A limestone parapet wall crowns the top of the structure.

Monument dedicated to 108 members of the Missouri Volunteer Infantry
Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration, History Program

Just inside the main gate is the superintendent’s lodge, a one-and-one-half story brick building of the Second Empire style. The lodge’s design follows the standard plan issued by U.S. Army Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs.  The lodge is one of the 17 remaining Second Empire-style Meigs lodges found at Civil War-era national cemeteries.  Built in 1870, the L-shaped building was constructed of ashlar stone and features stone quoins on the corner of the building. Typical of Second Empire architecture, the lodge is topped by a Mansard roof covered in hexagonal slate tiles of varying colors. In 1931, a one-story kitchen addition was built at the rear of the lodge.  In 1937, an ashlar limestone, two-story utility building was constructed to the left of the lodge, which contains storage space and public restrooms.  The cemetery’s flagpole, along the main drive near the lodge, dates from 1926.

Between burial sections 7 and 9, a monument dedicated to the 108 members of the Missouri Volunteer Infantry killed in 1864 in an unsuccessful Union attack in Centralia, Missouri was constructed.  Originally, 78 of the dead were buried in a trench grave in Centralia. In 1873, their remains were reinterred at Jefferson City National Cemetery. The monument, a limestone obelisk, bears the name of each of the 108 volunteers killed, including their commander Major A.V.E. Johnson.

A notable burial at the Jefferson City National Cemetery is Logan Bennett, one of the original founders of the city’s Lincoln University, a historically black college established by men of the 62nd and 65th U.S. Colored Infantries.  The soldiers raised funds to create a university to benefit newly free African Americans, and modeled the institution after Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute. Bennett and his wife are buried in section 8.
Plan your visit

Jefferson City National Cemetery is located at 1024 East McCarty St. in Jefferson City.  The cemetery is open for visitation daily from dawn to dusk.  No cemetery staff is present onsite. The administrative office is located at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, in St. Louis, Missouri, and the offices are open Monday-Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm; the offices are closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.  For more information, please contact the cemetery offices at 314-845-8320, 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.

Jefferson City National Cemetery was photographed to the standards established by the National Park Service’s Historic American Landscapes Survey.

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