Civil War history has always intrigued me. I admit I am far from an expert on anything related to the war, but I enjoy learning about its events and players. One such player was Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis. The fort opened for business in 1826, replacing another fort along the Mississippi River. Explorer William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame) was among the people searching for the right location.
The fort was named in honor of former President Thomas Jefferson, who had died a year earlier. The fort has remained in operation – longest running military establishment west of the Mississippi River – since opening in 1826. It served the active military through 1946. Today, it is home to the Army and an Air National Guard unit.
Future President of the Confederate States Jefferson Davis served as Secretary of War during the Mexican-American War in the mid-1840s. President Franklin Pierce dispatched Davis to Jefferson Barracks to put together a unit to battle the Mexicans.
Later, during their pre-Civil War days, both Generals US Grant and Robert E. Lee served at the base.
Jefferson Barracks is also home to the Civil War Museum. The museum houses several artifacts related to the Civil War. Weapons, tools and uniforms are among the items on display.
Among the items that jumped out at me were two military school uniforms. They looked identical, except for the buttons. The southern school – Furman – had gold buttons, while The US Military Academy at West Point (US Army) had silver buttons.
We also viewed a series of different military uniforms.
I always enjoy seeing the soldiers’ hats from earlier periods.
The Civil War was the first military action documented by photographers. Cameras from the era are on display.
Women’s fashions are also on exhibit. You can view a day dress, as well as a formal dress.
Weapons, such as pistols, rifles and swords, can be seen.
A uniform jacket and a couple of other pieces of memorabilia on display were used in the movie “Gone with the Wind.”
During the war, the barracks served as a Red Cross hospital, serving both northern and southern wounded soldiers.
Two large flags honor veterans from both sides of the Civil War.
During World War I, the parade grounds were used for paratrooper training. The goal was to have a successful paratrooper landing. Jefferson Barracks was the site of the first successful military parachute attempt.
Nearby the base is the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. It overlooks the Mississippi River and serves as the final resting place for veterans and relatives. The first person buried there was a daughter of a soldier in 1827.
During the Civil War, both Union and Confederate soldiers were buried there. The cemetery has the most military graves from the Civil War in Missouri.
The cemetery has veterans and active duty people from every American war since the mid-1800s. We found names and Unknown soldiers from the Civil War, Indian Wars, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the recent and current Persian Gulf wars.
Visiting cemeteries and showing respect is a way of keeping people’s memories alive. We find that you can learn a bit of history from these people.
If you like history or just like interesting spots, you should stop by the Civil War Museum at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, as well the national cemetery.