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Fort Smith in Sebastian County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)
 

Fort Smith National Cemetery

 
 
Fort Smith National Cemetery Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., January 17, 2016
1. Fort Smith National Cemetery Marker
Inscription.

Civil War Fort Smith
In 1817, the U.S. Army sent a detachment of soldiers to Arkansas Territory to keep the peace between the Osage and Cherokee nations. They built a post on the shore of the Arkansas River and named it for Gen. Thomas A. Smith.

The army abandoned Fort Smith in 1825 but returned in 1836. A federal garrison held Fort Smith until April 23, 1861, when the Arkansas militia seized it. Union forces retook the fort in September 1863 and held it for the rest of the war.

Fort Smith became an important supply depot and outpost at the edge of Indian Territory. In 1865, a council meeting at Fort Smith was held to negotiate between the federal government and tribes that had sided with the Confederacy. The council reestablished treaties between those tribes and the government.

[Photo caption reads]
Fort Smith, 1865. Courtesy of the Fort Smith National Historic Site.

National Cemetery
Post Surgeon Thomas Russell, who died in 1819, was the first interment at Fort Smith. The 5.5-acre cemetery served the garrisons, both Union and Confederate, during the Civil War. In 1867, it became one of three national cemeteries established in Arkansas. In addition to U.S. soldiers, burials include several hundred Confederates and more than 160 civilians who died at the fort.

In

Fort Smith National Cemetery Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., January 17, 2016
2. Fort Smith National Cemetery Marker
Cemetery office in background
the 1870s, the U.S. Army Quartermaster General's office constructed a brick lodge and wall, and placed permanent marble headstones on the graves. In 1898, a tornado swept through Fort Smith and caused extensive damage. The wall was rebuilt in stone, and the lodge was replaced with the current two-story building in 1904. When a new entrance was erected in 1942, the old iron gates were moved into the cemetery. Over the years, the cemetery has expanded to more than 32 acres.

[Photo caption reads]
The lodge in 1941. National Archives and Records Administration.

Judge Parker
Isaac Charles Parker was born on October 15, 1838, in Ohio. In 1859, he became a lawyer and moved to St. Joseph, Missouri. Parker resigned from his position as city attorney in 1861 to join the Union Army. After the Civil War, he was elected county prosecutor and later served two terms in the U.S. Congress. On March 18, 1875, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him judge of the Western District of Arkansas, based in Fort Smith.

Judge Parker held court six days a week, often hearing cases for ten hours each day. He presided over an unusually large number of cases with a mandatory death sentence. Although personally opposed to capital punishment, federal law required Parker to hand down the death sentence if the jury returned a guilty verdict for crimes of rape or

Isaac Parker Grave Marker in Fort Smith National Cemetery image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., January 17, 2016
3. Isaac Parker Grave Marker in Fort Smith National Cemetery
murder.

Parker served until shortly before his death on November 17, 1896, and was buried in this cemetery (Section 9, Grave 4000). In the years after his death he was often referred to as the "Hanging Judge."

[Photo caption reads]
Isaac C. Parker, c. 1875. Library of Congress.

 
Erected by Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration.
 
Location. 35° 23.062′ N, 94° 25.704′ W. Marker is in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in Sebastian County. Click for map. Marker is along the path leading to the cemetery office, near the entrance circle. Marker is at or near this postal address: 522 Garland Avenue, Fort Smith AR 72901, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Confederate Burials in the National Cemetery (a few steps from this marker); A National Cemetery System (a few steps from this marker); Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (within shouting distance of this marker); Veterans Memorial Carillon (within shouting distance of this marker); Veterans Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); The Trail of Tears (within

Fort Smith National Cemetery Entrance Sign image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr.
4. Fort Smith National Cemetery Entrance Sign
shouting distance of this marker); William O. Darby (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Vietnam War Memorial (about 700 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Fort Smith.
 
Also see . . .
1. Fort Smith National Cemetery. (Submitted on January 22, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Fort Smith National Historic Site. (Submitted on January 22, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. Isaac Charles Parker (1838-1896) Bio. (Submitted on January 22, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. Judge Isaac C. Parker (Chronicles of Oklahoma article, 1933). (Submitted on January 22, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
Categories. Cemeteries & Burial SitesPatriots & PatriotismWar, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 175 times since then and 21 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.   4. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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