Located in the Platte River Valley of Nebraska, Fort McPherson National
Cemetery is a reflection of the people and their ancestors who settled
in the American West. Through the valley passed traders and trappers
in their search for furs, settlers in their quest for land and freedom,
miners seeking the riches of the Rocky Mountains and the first
transcontinental railroad linking the East and West Coast. From these
people and their descendants came a special breed of men who were
willing to fight in battles both foreign and domestic for which the
American freedoms have been guaranteed and preserved. These grounds
are maintained as both a tribute and as a memorial to those who were
willing to make the sacrifices necessary to continue the
Established on September 27, 1863, the fort provided protection for
the building of a railroad and for settlers in their western trek.
Initially named Fort McKean and for a brief time Post of the
Cottonwood Springs, the present name of Fort McPherson was given on
February 20, 1866, in honor of Major General James B. McPherson who
was killed in action on July 22, 1864, during the Battle of Atlanta.
As the settlement of the area progressed, the need for the soldiers
decreased and Fort McPherson took on a new role of importance in
On March 3, 1873, the Fort McPherson National Cemetery was established
on a 107 acre tract of the Fort McPherson Military Reservation. This
resulted from an Act of Congress which provided for the burial of
all honorably discharged Union veterans of the Civil War in National
Cemeteries if they so desired. These cemeteries were located on or
near the grounds of battlefields or hospital of the Civil War. Because
some of these first cemeteries were inaccessible to some eligible
veterans, new cemeteries in diverse areas became a necessity.
Therefore, with many forts in the area closed and their cemeteries
deteriorating, it was decided that the remains be reinterred in the
Fort McPherson National Cemetery.
Many of these early interments characterized the people and the events
of the times. In August of 1854, Lieutenant John L. Grattan and
twenty-eight of his men were killed near Fort Laramie, Wyoming, in
what has come to be known as the 'Grattan Massacre.' A cow from a
passing Mormon wagon train had run into a nearby Indian village.
When seeking to discover the Indian responsible for killing the cow
and receiving no answer, Lieutenant Grattan ordered his men to fire
on the Indians. In the process, Brave Bear, a chief who was noted
for his efforts to establish peace between the white men and the
Indians, was killed. Incensed at this great loss the Indians returned
the fire killing Lieutenant Grattan and his entire troop. In 1891,
their remains, along with others buried at Fort Laramie, were
reinterred at Fort Mcpherson. Subsequently, Lieutenant Grattan
was reinterred at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery, Kansas.
Death on the western frontier came in many ways. Section A,
Graves 384-389, mark the burial site of six members of Company F,
3rd U.S. Cavalry, who drowned on May 31, 1873, when a flash flood
swept through their campsite on Blackwood Creek in the Republican
The first white inhabitants of the plains were the traders and trappers.
Section 5, Grave 5900, contains the remains of Baptistie Gamier, also
known as 'Little Bat'. Son of a French trapper father and a Sioux Indian
mother, he served as a scout and trailer for General Crook. Little Bat
was murdered in the late 1880's at Crawford, Nebraska, and was originally
buried at Ft. Robinson.
Nearby lies Moses Milner, nicknamed 'California Joe.' Milner left Kentucky
at age 14 and spent his first winter learning to hunt and trap on the
North Platte River. In 1848 he built a cabin on Brady Island and traded
with friendly Indians on the Loup, Daniel, Platte and Republican Rivers.
He fought in the Mexican War, was with Kit Carson at Adobe Wells, and
scouted for General Custer and General Crook. In 1876 he was shot in the
back by an unknown assailant and was originally buried at Ft. Robinson.
An important part of traversing and settling the west was the assistance
offered by Indian scouts. Section C, Grave 258, is the resting place of
Spotted Horse, a Pawnee Indian. In his early years as a warrior he fought
hard against white settlement of the plains. Spotted Horse later became
friendly with the soldiers of the area and joined their service as a
The last of the Civil War veterans of Lincoln County, Nebraska was buried
in Section C, Grave 1270. Private Cyrus Fox, a member of Company C, 7th
Iowa Infantry, died on June 12, 1942. Coincidentally, Private Fox had
served under General McPherson for whom the cemetery was named.
GROUP BURIALS - Fort McPherson National cemetery has served as the final
resting place for American men and women who have served their country at
many different times in many wars throughout the years. In some
instances, positive identification has been impossible due to the
circumstances of the deaths. There are 81 group burials in
Ft. McPherson National Cemetery which represent 35 decedents.
MEMORIAL MARKERS - On August 14, 1958 Congress authorized the placement
of memorial markers in the national cemeteries to commemorate those members
of the Armed Forces who had died in service and whose remains could not
be recovered, identified, buried at sea, or had their ashes scattered.
The memorial section is located near the main entrance of the
MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS - '...above and beyond the call of duty. He who
has been awarded the Medal of Honor holds the highest award for bravery
that can be bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress. The
Medal of honor is earned by a deed of personal bravery and self-sacrifice,
above and beyond the call of duty. Most of the medals have been awarded
for an act of heroism while engaged in war, conflict, or campaign.
However, Congress has in the past awarded this honor for peace-time
exploits. The Medal of Honor is the highest decoration which can be
given in any of the Armed Forces, in consideration for entitlement of the
medal, there can be no margin or error or doubt. The deed of the
recipient must be proven by incontestable evidence of at least two
eyewitnesses and his deed must be so outstanding that it clearly
distinguish his gallantry.
Over the years, this small piece of Nebraska has become the final
resting place for four recipients of the Medal of Honor.
Section A, Grave 380, is the resting place of Pvt. Daniel A. Miller,
Company F, 3rd U.S Cavalry. Medal recipient for gallantry in action
during the Indian War, Oct. 6, 1874.
Section F, Grave 1040 marks the grave of Sgt. Emanuel Stance,
Company F, 9th U.S. Cavalry. On May 20, 1870, at Kickapoo Springs,
Texas, gallantry while on scout after Indians. Sgt. Stance was a
Section F, Grave 1131, is the resting site of Sgt. George Jordan.
Sgt. Jordan was awarded the Medal of Honor on two occasions, first
for gallantry on May 14, 1880, and again on August 12, 1881. Both
times were for repulsing a force of more that 100 Indians, while
commanding a detachment of only a few soldiers. Sgt. Jordan was also
a Buffalo Soldier.
Section G, Grave 685 is the final resting site for PFC James W. Fous.
A member of Company E, 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry, 9th Infantry
Division, PFC Fous on May 14, 1968 distinguished himself by conspicuous
gallantry at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.
While participating in a reconnaissance mission in Kien Hoa Province,
Republic of Vietnam, PFC Fous detected three Viet Cong maneuvering
toward his position. After alerting the other men, he directed accurate
fire upon the enemy and silenced two of them. The Third Viet Cong
soldier managed to escape after throwing a hand grenade into his
position. Without hesitation, he shouted a warning to his three
comrades and leaped upon the lethal explosive, absorbing the blast
with his own body. His gallantry and heroism was in keeping with
the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great
credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
Our heritage is the privilege to work for freedom, and the daily
opportunity to deserve it. The struggle to create and pass on this
birthright is symbolized in the Medal of Honor. In it is cast the
loyalty which impelled these men to scale the heights of courage and
strength for their country, at the risk of their lives
'...above and beyond the call of duty...'
To contact the cemetery:
Fort McPherson National Cemetery
HCO1, Box 67
Maxwell, NE 69151
Phone: (308) 582-4433