Saturday, October 9, 2010

Jefferson Barracks and National Cemetery

Jefferson Barracks

Two days after purchasing the property in 1826, the first military troops arrived on the grounds, the next year it was named to honor Thomas Jefferson who had died the year earlier and was designated an Infantry School of Practice.

Stone that was over the main gate was found buried in the dump after being missing for about 50 years.

Men from JB have been involved in every war or conflict since the Black Hawk War of 1832, that year the Dragoons (later renamed Calvary) were formed and trained to fight both mounted and dismounted and stationed here.

During the Civil War a hospital was built, by the end of the war it had treated over 18,000 soldier from both sides.

The first parachute jump from an airplane was made here on the parade grounds March 1 1912

During WWI the base was used for recruiting and training,

In the 30's it was also used for the Citizens Military Training Camp, later to become ROTC.

WWII it was a major recruiting and training center with tens of thousands of troop passing through.

1946 following the end of WWII it was decommissioned as a Military Post.

More then 230 General Officers Passed through JB during its time,from Cook the Indian fighter to General Eisenhower, the one that missed JB was General Custer and look how that worked out for him.

Today it is divided up and contains two county parks, a National Guard Base, a National Cemetery and a VA Hospital.

We started out at the visitors center and were met by a lady that has lived in the area since before WWII and has a great memory about everything that has happened in this area. She not only answered every question that we had but told us about enough places to go and see to last us two days.

Our first stop was at one of the two museums, this one changes displays every few months and wasn't exactly what we were looking for.

The second one was all about JB and this is what we wanted. They have a great history of the base and cover it from the start till after it was closed and then some. We spent about a hour here and its not a very big museum, one of the volunteers walked us through to make sure we didn't miss any of the little interesting things.

As a kid we had a huge Army surplus store near by and we were still using these when I was in High School.

Click to read
A great story, escape from lockup, steal a plane and end up with the Medal of Honor.

From here we drove over to the National Cemetery, this has to be the largest, not counting Arlington, cemetery we have ever been to, National or not. We always make a stop at the National cemeteries (this makes about 45) but this one needs a at least a few hours to park and walk around.

The cemetery picture were taken at different areas of the cemetery just to show you how big this place is and how many graves are here. I have not idea how many graves are here but they told us that they average 21 burials a day.
NOTE: After some checking I found out that as of 04/01/10 there were 180,000 graves.

There are eight MOH burials here,a few recently discovered bodies from both WWII and Vietnam that were identified by DNA, a Minuteman that fought at Lexington and Concord, all of the graves from Fort Bellefontaine were moved here, 1,140 Confederate Soldiers, 2 German and 5 Italian POW's, 564 Group Burials the largest consists of 175 victims of the 56th United States Colored Infantry and a lot more that I can't remember. This were the things that the lady at the visitors center told us about, we managed to see a few things but will have to return to really do it justice.

An interesting thought.

I think the most unique grave is is that of 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie who was interred in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for 14 years until his mother insisted on DNA testing that identified him and had his remains moved to Jefferson Barracks.

It's been a fun week here in St Louis, when we were here before (Camped on the north side) we did all the downtown stuff, we're glad that we camped on the south side this time since we were able to see a lot of things that would have been to long of a drive last time.

College football Saturday, tough day for us Michigan vs Michigan State both undefeated, and then moving day Sunday.

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