"Hanging Judge" Parker
Buried in Grave #4000, Isaac
C. Parker was the federal
judge for the Western District
of Arkansas.
Fort Smith National Cemetery - Fort Smith, Arkansas
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Fort Smith National Cemetery, Arkansas
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Fort Smith National Cemetery, Arkansas
Fort Smith National Cemetery
Union and Confederate soldiers rest side by side in
the historic Fort Smith National Cemetery.
Resting Place of Heroes
Perhaps more than any other burial place,
Fort Smith National Cemetery in Arkansas
chronicles in human terms the history of the
westward expansion of the United States.

There are thousands of graves here and
each one tells a different and unique story.
The cemetery began as a resting place for
the soldiers who garrisoned
Fort Smith
during the years before the Civil War. Many of
them are buried along-side their family
members and their names read like a
biography of the western frontier. John Nicks,
for example, was a U.S. Army officer who
served under Andrew Jackson during the
First Seminole War but came to Arkansas
when the 7th U.S. Infantry was transferred to
Fort Smith. He stayed on as a civilian and
made his life on what was then the western
border of the United States.

Brigadier General Richard C. Gatlin was a
major in the U.S. Army who was captured
during the
seizure of Fort Smith by state
troops in 1861. He switched sides and
became a general in the services of the
Confederacy, commanding troops in North
Carolina before returning home to live out the
rest of his life in Arkansas.

The cemetery contains the graves of scores
of men, both Union and Confederate, who
served in and around Fort Smith during the
Civil War. Many died from disease, but others
were killed at the
Battle of Massard Prairie
and other actions fought in and around the
modern city.

The cemetery also includes the graves of

District Judge Isaac C. Parker
, Fort Smith's
"hanging judge," and some his deputy
marshals. These are the men who literally
"tamed the West" and their lives have been
memorialized in such classic American films
as John Wayne's "True Grit" and "Rooster
Cogburn."  Fort Smith was the setting for both

Parker and his deputies operated from Fort
Smith during the years after the Civil War to
round up outlaws including the Dalton gang,
the Rufus Buck gang, Cherokee Bill and even
Belle Starr.
Fort Smith National Cemetery also reminds
us of the sacrifices of later generations. Men
and women who served in both World Wars,
the Korean and Vietnam Wars and the wars
in the Middle East are buried here. Of note is
the grave of Brigadier General William O.
Darby. A native of Fort Smith, he founded
Darby's Rangers during World War II. The
highly acclaimed unit was the forerunner of
today's U.S. Army Rangers and Darby is
considered the father of the organization.

Fort Smith National Cemetery is located at
522 Garland Avenue and South 6th Street in
Fort Smith and is open daily from 7:30 a.m.
until sunset.
Please click here to visit the
cemetery's official site for more information.
General William O. Darby
A Fort Smith native, Brigadier
General Darby is considered
the father of the U.S. Army
Unknown Confederates
Many men from both armies
died from wounds or disease
in and around Fort Smith
during the Civil War.
Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
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