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Military Traditions - October 4, 2019

A bugler from the U.S. Navy Band plays taps during a graveside service in Arlington National Cemetery. (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser)

Q: The best-known U.S. National Cemetery is in Arlington, Virginia. But it wasn't the first - or even among the first dozen. Of the 14 original National Cemeteries designated by Abraham Lincoln, two are located in Kansas. One is at Fort Leavenworth. Where is the other one?

A: Fort Scott

Fort Scott National Cemetery came into existence on November 15, 1862. It was one of the 14 original United States National Cemeteries designated by Abraham Lincoln. Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery was also among the original 14. (According to some accounts, Fort Scott National Cemetery has the distinction of being listed as U.S. National Cemetery #1, but KPR could not completely nor independently verify this claim.)

During its early years, a small plot of land on the west side of Fort Scott was used as a cemetery. In 1861, a new plot was purchased, and named Presbyterian Graveyard as it was maintained by the Presbyterian Church. During the American Civil War, it was used to inter soldiers who died in battles near the area. The plot and an adjacent tract of land became Fort Scott National Cemetery in 1862.

At the end of the Civil War, the original fort cemetery interments were moved into the National Cemetery. At the the close of the Indian Wars, many frontier posts were abandoned and the bodies of the soldiers buried at those cemeteries were transferred to Fort Scott. Fort Scott National Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. It is one of three national cemeteries in Kansas (the other two being Fort Leavenworth and Leavenworth). Fort Scott National Cemetery is located on the eastern outskirts of the city of Fort Scott. 

Fun Factoid: According to the Veterans Administration, there are 150 U.S. National Cemeteries.

Discover more Kansas Trivia in #MyKPR's online archive.


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