Jefferson Barracks

In the heart of St. Louis, Missouri, lies the Jefferson Barracks Memorial Cemetery, a place steeped in history and honor. Its story begins in the early 19th century when the United States government established Jefferson Barracks as a military post in 1826. The military post became the army's first permanent base west of the Mississippi River and a decade later, it was the largest military base on US soil. Over time, it became one of the most significant military installations in the country, serving as a training ground for soldiers and a crucial hub during times of conflict. As the barracks grew, so did the need for a final resting place for those who served their country faithfully.

Amidst the rolling hills and serene landscape, the Jefferson Barracks Memorial Cemetery was born. The first burial actually took place in 1827, but the area was not officially designated as a burial ground until much later in 1866. It is actually one of the National Cemetery Administration's oldest internment sites and serves as the final resting place for soldiers from all wars, even the Revolutionary War and Civil War. The cemetery's grounds hold within them the echoes of countless stories, each headstone a testament to a life lived in duty and honor.

A few years after designation, an astounding 10,200 individuals were reinterred at Jefferson Barracks from other locations around Missouri including Cape Girardeau, Pilot Knob, Warsaw, Rolla and the 470 small pox victims from Arsenal Island. The oldest portion of the cemetery is the final resting place of approximately 20,000 people, including 1,000 Confederate soldiers. There are 3,255 unknown soldiers buried at Jefferson Barracks. 

Over time, Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery has been expanded many times and in the 1930s and 40s, WPA projects made significant improvements to the site. These included: paved roads and walkways, concrete curbs, repairs to and new sections of the stone wall, and a new entrance gate. 

The active military aspect to Jefferson Barracks was deactivated in 1946 and the land was absorbed into the cemetery. The Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. 

Today, the Jefferson Barracks Memorial Cemetery stands as a poignant reminder of the price of freedom. Its expansive grounds stretch over 331 acres, dotted with row upon row of white marble headstones, each meticulously maintained in honor of those who lie beneath. It is a place of quiet reflection and reverence, where visitors come to pay their respects to the fallen and to remember the sacrifices they made.

As the years have passed, the cemetery has continued to grow, becoming the final resting place for over 200,000 veterans and their families. Each burial is conducted with the utmost dignity and respect, a fitting tribute to those who gave their all for their country. Today, Jefferson Barracks Memorial Cemetery stands as a hallowed symbol of patriotism and sacrifice, a place where the memory of the brave will endure for generations to come.

Historic Images Courtesy of the Library of Congress 

Learn More 

National Cemetery Administration 

Missouri Civil War Museum 

Jefferson Barracks Park 

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