My husband is a transplant from Nashville and has lived in the St. Louis area for 50 years. He’s also a Marine Corps veteran and because of that, I was surprised when he told me he had never been to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery which is just 25 miles from our home. When we began our Mondays with Morie list, it was right near the top of the list.
Created in 1826, Jefferson Barracks is the oldest operational military installation in the region and was named after President Thomas Jefferson, who had died earlier that year. The historic site in south St. Louis County was strategically placed on a plateau that overlooks the Mississippi River. citation
Jefferson Barracks was formally established as a national cemetery in 1866 by passage of a joint resolution. The first burial at what is now Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery was on Aug. 5, 1827 of one year old Eliza Ann Lash, the daughter of one of the Post’s officers. Overall, there are around 280,000 graves at the site, many belonging to soldiers.
Most people think that Jefferson Barracks is only a cemetery, but it encompasses much more. Jefferson Barracks has always been a troop mobilization point from the Civil War and onward. My own father was inducted into the Army from Jefferson Barracks in 1944. It was used as a troop hospital and did, during World War II, house some German prisoners.
Also on the grounds of the Barracks is the Missouri Civil War Museum. My husband has always been a Civil War buff so he was really excited to visit this museum. The museum is housed in a beautifully rehabbed Post building. The two-story main display room is surrounded by an elevated running track that was used by soldiers during World War II and I was struck by how small the area was. It seems that everything back 150 years ago was smaller than they are now. Looking at the clothing on display, I was amazed at how small the waistlines were, both for men and women. So I guess maybe Scarlet O’Hara’s desire for a seventeen-inch waistline was not all that unusual. The lower level continues the displays.