Rich Civil War History
National Cemetery 1893
The soldier's plot in this cemetery was designated by the federal government after the Civil War on ground donated by the city for that purpose. It is under the jurisdiction of the National Cemetery Plot in Ft. Scott. The soldier's monument was erected in the spring of 1870 and the bodies of the victims of the attack on the fort and the massacre were reinterred in a common grave. Names of the 88 victims are engraved on the monument. The fence surrounding the plot is made of cannon barrels protruding from the ground. Originally, cannon balls were mounted on each barrel. This cemetery is located just west the Highway 166 & 5th street junction on the west edge of town.
Civil War Tour
Take the self-guided Civil War tour of Baxter Springs. Visit 12 points of interest relating to the attack on Ft. Blair and the subsequent Battle of Baxter Springs. For example, SITE #2 - Quantrill divided his troops into three groups for the attack. One group, under Pond, moved up the hill to come in for the attack from the south. Another group under Gregg moved through the ravine to the right to attack the fort from the east. Quantrill himself took another group toward the north to circle in and attack from the north. Maps and brochures may be picked up at the Historical Museum, Chamber of Commerce, or downtown restaurants.
Historic Walking Tour
Walk along the downtown sidewalks on both sides of Military Avenue. Posted on the store fronts of the historic buildings are framed accounts of the original occupants of each store, their dates, and sometimes an account of a particular historical event that took place at that spot.
Ft. Blair Site
Baxter Springs was a stopping place on the old Military Road serving Army forts which protected the pre-Civil War West from "hostile" Indians. It wasn't until 1862 the field camps were built in Baxter to supply troops to escort the wagon trains through the dangerous Indian Territory to Ft. Smith, Arkansas or Ft. Gibson, Cherokee Nation.
In the spring, a field camp known as Camp Baxter Strings, was built here by Col. Charles Doubleday's 2nd Ohio Brigade and Col. William Weer's 2nd Kansas Brigade to garrison about 6,000 troops. Col. Weer's troops included two regiments of the Kansas Indian Home Guard. Camp Little Five Mile, built by Col. Richey's Kansas Indians in June 1862, was located to the southeast and across Spring River. Then in May and June of 1863 two more field camps were built here, Camp Joe Hooker, built by Col. James Williams' 1st Kansas Colored Troops, and Camp Ben Butler, built by the same group in June of 1863.
In July of 1863, a decision was made to establish a permanent garrison here, and in August, Lt. John Crites was sent with parts of companies C and D of the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry to build a fort at Baxter Springs. The fort, officially called Ft. Blair, but commonly referred to as Ft. Baxter, consisted of a block house and some log cabins surrounded by breastworks of logs covered on the outside by rocks and earth. It was here that Confederate guerillas under the command of William Clark Quantrill, struck about noon on October 6, 1863, then moved to massacre a contingent of troops being led toward Fort Smith by General James G. Blunt. The dead, for the most part, are buried in Baxter Springs Cemetery, just west of the city. The Fort Blair site is located on Route 66 on 6th street.