Fort Bliss National Cemetery

Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas, United States

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Number of Images

5674

Number of Headstone Records

6443

Number of Supporting Records

4950

Description

Fort Bliss is located in El Paso County, Texas, within the Fort Bliss Military Reservation. The fort was first established in the late 1840s at the end of the Mexican-American war, when the United States gained possession of former Mexican territories in the Southwest. Due to its strategic location on the banks of the Rio Grande, Fort Bliss was originally used as an infantry post. During the Civil War, the fort was used as a Confederate garrison until the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Conditions at the desert fort could be arduous. Although there are no definitive dates regarding the establishment of the first post cemetery, records indicate the first interment was made in 1883 and 16 burials had been made prior to 1890. In 1914, the status of Fort Bliss was changed from an infantry to a cavalry post. At that time, the area set aside as a post cemetery totaled 2.2 acres with a capacity of 800 graves, enclosed with a stone wall. During World War I, Fort Bliss was used as a training center for cavalry detachments. It was first used as a gathering point for recruits at the beginning of the war and then as a demobilization camp after the Armistice. In the interwar years, 2.24 acres were added to the cemetery, increasing its capacity to 2,400 graves. Congress authorized the establishment of a national cemetery at Fort Bliss in June 1936, but funds were not appropriated for construction until 1939. Had the funds been available, construction would have been delayed anyway, as the Fort Bliss commanding general and the Office of the Quartermaster General in Washington D.C., disagreed on the site. Finally, in March 1939, the quartermaster general approved a plan and the new Fort Bliss National Cemetery had its first interment a year later on March 7, 1940. In addition to U.S. soldiers and civilians, there are a number of non-U.S. citizens interred at Fort Bliss. In fall 1944, Chinese authorities officially selected the post as the place of interment for Chinese air force cadets who died while training at the fort; 52 are buried at Fort Bliss. Others resting here include four German prisoners of war, three Japanese civilian internees who were disinterred from Lordsburg, N.M., and one German civilian scientist who had been conducting research at Fort Bliss during the war. In 1955, the remains of Lt. Col. William Wallace Smith Bliss were moved from Girod Street Cemetery in New Orleans to Fort Bliss. Col. Bliss fought against the Cherokee, taught at West Point, served as chief of staff to Gen. Zachary Taylor in the Mexican-American War and married Taylor's daughter. The city of New Orleans notified the Army that all monuments in the Girard Street Cemetery must be removed because the land had been condemned to make way for a new building and a highway.
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Fort Bliss National Cemetery, Created by lesabgunn, Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas, United States