Fort Smith National Cemetery - www.nps.gov
In 1817, the United States established a series of frontier garrisons in areas annexed as part of the Louisiana Purchase, including Fort Smith in northwest Arkansas. The first known burial at the post cemetery is that of the fort’s surgeon, Thomas Russell. In 1823, a major outbreak of disease claimed the lives of 25 percent of the troops stationed at Fort Smith, who were interred at the post’s cemetery. The following year, Colonel Matthew Arbuckle removed the five companies of soldiers under his command from the area in search of higher, healthier land to the west. The garrison remained unattended until 1833 when Captain John Stuart used the fort as an inspection station to intercept traders illegally selling whiskey to the local American Indians. His mission lasted just one year, and the post again sat vacant until 1838 when the Federal Government purchased land at the southeast corner of the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers, reestablishing Fort Smith. From 1841 to 1845, Zachary Taylor, later the 12th President of the United States, commanded the 2nd Department, Western Division, at the fort. In the years before the Civil War, the cemetery was improved and enlarged.