Jefferson Barracks: Final Resting Place of 192,000 Veterans
It often requires age, and the understanding that comes with it, to find beauty in a cemetery. Still, many observe cemeteries as the last place they want to be. I suppose they just don’t want to rush things or have their maker think they like it there. However, there are over three-million “bueatuful” grave-sites of brave men and woman in one hundred-thirty-one National Cemeteries. These last resting places are, to me, places of great beauty – peaceful; a place to reflect on who we are and where we came from; and a place of the human story.
Named after our third president a year after his death, Jefferson Barracks Military Post opened in 1827. By a previous order of President Lincoln and an Act of Congress in 1866 the post’s cemetery became one of our National Cemeteries.
Every year more than 4000 burials take place at Jefferson Barracks and there are now over 192,000 veterans and their families buried there. Among the interred are 10,217 Civil War Union soldiers and 1104 Confederate soldiers. In addition, 3153 Unknowns are buried in the cemetery, most date from the Civil War.
The largest number of group-burials at any of our National Cemeteries are in Jefferson. There, the largest group is members of the 56th Infantry Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops. Nearly six hundred-fifty of the regiment died of disease, the vast majority of the deaths occurred during to a cholera epidemic that struck in August of 1866 while the regiment was waiting to muster out at the post. One hundred seventy-five African American enlisted men are buried together in a mass grave. The human story here is, of course, that these men deserved a far better fate.
Keeping with our theme – stories of the 183rd and 175th Ohio Regiments; we need to take a moment and honor that commitment and the men. In his book Baptism of Fire, Eric Jacobson noted that three men from the 175th were buried at Jefferson; Thomas Dixon, Joseph Sroufe, and (possibly) Othello Timmons. I’ve located and photographed Dixon and Sroufe. Timmons gravesite, on the other hand, is, at least now, located in Ohio.
Thomas Dixon, also spelled Dickson in some records, age 20, was captured at Franklin and imprisoned at Cahaba. He was exchanged and died at St. Louis April 18, 1865. Joseph C. Sroufe, age 23, was captured at Blockhouse #16 near Pulaski on Nov. 24, 1864. He too was confined at Cahaba, but where he died is not known. In some military records his name is spelled Strofe. Jefferson Barracks is located just to the south of St. Louis on the banks of the Mississippi, north of Vicksburg where they were likely taken upon release or death. Whether they died on the way home or were hospitalized and died there, Jefferson Barracks Cemetery became their final resting place.
Othello Timmons, age 18, first was enlisted in the 178th Ohio and was transferred into the 175th at Camp Dennison. Othello was also captured at Blockhouse #16 and confined at Cahaba. He was paroled in April and arrived at Jefferson Barracks April 23, 1865 where he died. I have found his grave online in Find-A-Grave.com and he is buried in Fayette County, Ohio in Waterloo Cemetery. His year of death is engraved 1864 in error. Othello could have been buried at Jefferson and re-interred near his home by family later.
In his previously mentioned book, Eric Jacobson, notes that Charles Durck, possibly Durk, age 38, of the 183rd Ohio was reported missing at Franklin and that he died of disease at Jefferson Barracks on May 26, 1865. There is no record of where he was buried or his status after the battle at Franklin until he died almost six months later.