Fort McPherson National Cemetery in Maxwell, Neb., is the final resting place for veterans from the Indian Wars of the 1800s to the recent American military conflicts.
The original fort was built in 1863 to help provide protection as pioneers moved west along the Mormon and Oregon trails. Soldiers also protected railroad workers from Native American hostiles.
The fort was named for Major General James McPherson. The West Point (Army college) graduate served as the chief military engineer for General US Grant during the Civil War.
He led his first military campaign during the Battle of Raymond (Mississippi). The Union soldiers eventually won the battle, after overcoming a slow start.
The general met his death in 1864 during a fight for Atlanta.
The cemetery is located a little northwest from the original fort.
Fort McPherson is home to four Medal of Honor winners – three for the Indian Wars and one for Vietnam.
The cemetery is the only one of its kind in Nebraska. There are plans to add one in Sarpy County, near Omaha.
The grave markers have been realigned so they meet the military tradition of conformity. They line up in perfect lines – straight on and at angles.
Several graves have headstones recognizing Unknown Soldier or US Soldier. Apparently, records didn’t exist for the soldiers buried in those graves.
Some gravesites were group burials. One site consisted of the remains of a World War II team. The names were known, but the remains weren’t separated. They were interred together with their names on the marker as a team.
The remains of 50 Buffalo soldiers (African American cavalry troops) were re-interred at the cemetery from Fort Robinson in 1907. Fort Robinson – in northwest Nebraska – was deactivated that year.
The cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.
This is the second military cemetery I’ve visited. My first visit was at the American Military Cemetery in Manila, Philippines. I have a visit to Arlington Cemetery near Washington, DC, high on my list.
I am always impressed with the way we honor our veterans and military. The Fort McPherson National Cemetery stands among the finest tributes in the land. The men and women who rest here are well taken care. The grounds were nearly immaculate. A grounds crew was working during our visit.
Fort McPherson cemetery is a nice place to visit and pay your respects to the warriors resting there.
For more information on the cemetery, please visit http://www.cem.va.gov/CEM/cems/nchp/ftmcpherson.asp.