Confederate Burials in the National Cemetery
Military Prison in St. Louis
St. Louis had two small Civil War prisons, each housing several hundred persons. Gratiot Street Prison was the former McDowell Medical College, located near Eighth and Gratiot streets and the Mississippi River. When the Civil War began, Dr. Joseph Nash McDowell left St. Louis, eventually joining the Confederate army. The college became Gratiot Street Prison in December 1861. The U.S. Army installed bunks and stoves in classrooms, and the dissecting room became a mess hall. The building could hold 500, but often exceeded that number. The first prisoners arrived on Christmas Eve 1861.
A two-and-a-half story brick building—at the corner of present-day Clark Avenue and Broadway—owned by slave dealer Bernard M. Lynch became Myrtle Street Prison. The army confiscated "Lynch's Slave Pen" after Lynch fled south. With barred windows, it needed little alteration. Among the first prisoners was Max McDowell, a son of Dr. McDowell, who had remained in St. Louis to recruit soldiers for Confederate forces.
Both prisons also held civilians, including women and children, deemed Confederate sympathizers.
The Confederate Burials
Some Confederate prisoners who died at the Gratiot and Myrtle Street prisons, or in hospitals, were initially buried in Christ Church Cemetery. Others were interred by the firm of John A. Smithers & Brother at Wesleyan Cemetery. About 1867, the U.S. Army moved the remains of more than 1,000 Confederate prisoners interred in St. Louis cemeteries to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. This included six burials removed from Quarantine Island and a prisoner removed from Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
In 1908, the Commission for Marking Graves of Confederate Dead placed the distinctive pointed-top headstones on the Confederate graves at the national cemetery. Because St. Louis prisons also housed Southern sympathizers, many of the dead were civilians.
The Commission was only authorized to mark the graves of soldiers, but the War Department authorized the use of Confederate-style headstones to mark civilian prisoner graves. Among them were two women, Jane N. Foster (Section 20, Grave 4613) and Nancy J. Vaughn (Section 21, Grave 4815).
On May 30, 1868, the Grand Army of the Republic decorated Union and Confederate graves at Arlington National Cemetery. Thirty years later President William McKinley proclaimed:
The Union is once more the common altar of our love
The War Department created the Confederate section at Arlington in 1901, and marked the graves with distinctive pointed-top marble headstones. Five years later, Congress created the Commission for Marking Graves of Confederate Dead to identify and mark the graves of Confederates who died in Northern prisons. Its mission was later expanded to encompass all national cemeteries that contained Confederate burials.
Four former Confederate officers headed the Commission over its lifetime. By 1916, it had marked in excess of 25,500 graves and erected monuments in locations where individual graves could not be identified.
In 1930, the War Department authorized the addition of the Southern Cross of Honor to the Confederate headstone.
[Photo captions, from left, read]
Gratiot Street Prison, c. 1865. Miller's Photographic History of the Civil War.
A Confederate headstone on the grave of W.J. Arnett, a prisoner of war.
North Alton Confederate Cemetery Monument, 1909, Alton, Ill.
Original Commission headstone (left) and headstone with Southern Cross of Honor (right).
Erected by National Cemetery Administration.
Location. 38° 29.871′ N, 90° 16.885′ W. Marker is in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Missouri, in St. Louis County. Marker is on South Drive 0.1 miles west of Monument Drive, on the left when traveling west. Marker is in Section 19. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2900 Sheridan Road, Saint Louis MO 63125, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. To The Confederate Dead 1861 - 1865 (a few steps from this marker); Civil War Union Women Memorial (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Civil War Memorial (about 500 feet away); Minnesota Civil War Memorial (about 500 feet away); U.S. Army Air Forces Air Crash Victims May 13, 1945 (approx. 0.2 miles away); Michael Joseph Blassie (approx. 0.2 miles away); Victims of the Japanese Massacre (approx. 0.2 miles away); U.S. Submariners Lost in World War II (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
Also see . . .
1. Gratiot Street Prison, St. Louis. (Submitted on July 29, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Confederate POWs and Prisons in St. Louis. (Submitted on July 29, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. (Submitted on July 29, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Categories. • Cemeteries & Burial Sites • Man-Made Features • Patriots & Patriotism • War, US Civil •
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Credits. This page was last revised on October 16, 2018. This page originally submitted on July 29, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 235 times since then and 20 times this year. Last updated on October 15, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on July 29, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.