Photographer Solomon D. Butcher’s view of Memorial Day at Fort McPherson National Cemetery in 1911. NSHS RG2608-2926-b (right).
The approach of Memorial Day calls to mind Nebraska’s Fort McPherson National Cemetery, located south of Maxwell in Lincoln County. If the men who lie underneath its peaceful sod could tell their stories, a living panorama of the winning of the West would unfold. Here are interred veterans of some of the bloodiest Indian wars in the nation’s history. Spotted Horse, the famed Pawnee scout, is also buried here.
From its founding in 1863 to its abandonment in 1880, Fort McPherson played an active role in the Indian wars, with many important campaigns and expeditions launched from the fort. The site of the post, at the mouth of Cottonwood Canyon, was a strategic location in the Platte Valley.
Front entrance to Fort McPherson National Cemetery in 1909. NSHS RG2154-4-3 (left).
In addition to the regular troops, Maj. Frank North’s Pawnee Scouts were stationed at Fort McPherson. Buffalo Bill also was a frequent visitor at the post, and Gen. Phil Sheridan headquartered there for a time.
On October 13, 1873, a tract of 107 acres was set aside as a national cemetery, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Subsequent reductions have limited the size of the cemetery to twenty acres. Burials in the Fort McPherson National Cemetery have included soldiers who served in the Indian wars throughout the West, as well as those who have served in the Civil War, Spanish American War, World Wars I and II, and the Korean War.
– Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor / Publications