National Cemetery Administration
Fort Mitchell National Cemetery
Office Hours: Monday thru Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Closed federal holidays except Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Visitation Hours: Open daily from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
This cemetery has space available to accommodate casketed and cremated remains.
From Columbus, Ga., Airport take Interstate 185. Travel to Exit 1 and turn right onto Victory Drive. Proceed one mile across bridge into Alabama. At 3rd exit go right onto State Route 431 south and travel two miles. (Look for sign indicating cemetery). Make a left turn onto State Route 165 and proceed six miles to entrance.
Fax all discharge documentation to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-866-900-6417 and follow-up with a phone call to 1-800-535-1117.
Cemetery policies are conspicuously posted and readily visible to the public.
Floral arrangements accompanying the casket or urn at the time of burial will be placed on the completed grave. Natural cut flowers may be placed on graves at any time of the year. They will be removed when they become unsightly or when it becomes necessary to facilitate cemetery operations such as mowing.
Artificial flowers and potted plants will be permitted on graves during periods when their presence will not interfere with grounds maintenance. As a general rule, artificial flowers and potted plants will be allowed on graves for a period extending 10 days before through 10 days after Easter Sunday and Memorial Day.
Christmas wreaths, grave blankets and other seasonal adornments may be placed on graves from Dec. 1 through Jan. 20. They may not be secured to headstones or markers.
Permanent plantings, statues, vigil lights, breakable objects and similar items are not permitted on the graves. The Department of Veterans Affairs does not permit adornments that are considered offensive, inconsistent with the dignity of the cemetery or considered hazardous to cemetery personnel. For example, items incorporating beads and wires may become entangled in mowers or other equipment and cause injury.
Permanent items removed from graves will be placed in inconspicuous holding area for one month prior to disposal. Decorative items removed from graves remain property of the donor but are under the custodianship of the cemetery. If not retrieved by the donor, they are then governed by the rules for disposal of federal property.
VA regulations 38 CFR 1.218 prohibit the carrying of firearms (either openly or concealed), explosives or other dangerous or deadly weapons while on VA property, except for official purposes, such as military funeral honors. Possession of firearms on any property under the charge and control of VA is prohibited. Offenders may be subject to a fine, removal from the premises, or arrest.
Fort Mitchell is located south of Phenix City in Alabama, adjacent to the state-owned and operated Fort Mitchell Park. The Georgia Militia originally constructed Fort Mitchell in order to sustain a military presence in the area during the Creek War of 1813 to 1814. Shortly after the fort’s completion, the Georgia Militia launched an attack against the British at Tuckabatchie and Hothlewali. The militia was ambushed and driven back to Fort Mitchell by a combined force of Creeks and British. Thereafter, until 1825, a small force continued to garrison at the fort.
From 1817 to 1825, Fort Mitchell gradually emerged as a center of commerce for trade with Native Americans. In 1817, a trading house, or factory, was established where produced goods were available to local tribes at prices below what they could otherwise afford. In 1818, a post office was added to the newly extended Federal Road that crossed through Fort Mitchell from Augusta, Ga., and westward into the Alabama frontier.
In 1821, an Indian agency was created at Fort Mitchell, and Colonel John Crowell was appointed agent to the Creeks. While Crowell managed the agency, his brother, Thomas, ran the tavern, which later served as an officer’s quarters.
Fort Mitchell became central to the protection of Native Americans as settlers consistently violated the Creek territory as defined under terms of the 1814 Treaty of Fort Jackson. In response to Native American protests, a new fort was constructed and occupied by the 4th U.S. Infantry in summer 1825, and it remained garrisoned almost continually through 1840. The second fort encompassed the first, and while much larger, was similar in design.
In 1831, a group of white settlers invaded the Indian community of Ola Ufalal (now Eufaula), evicted the Creeks, burned their houses, and built their own settlement. The U.S. marshal protested the settlers’ actions, and when defied, the commandant at Fort Mitchell dispatched a company to demand the surrender and evacuation of the town. The residents complied and retreated across the Chattahoochee River.
President Andrew Jackson was committed to a policy of removing Native Americans, however, and was not eager to use force against settlers who were supported by the laws of Georgia and Alabama. For every ejection of a trespasser evacuated by troops at Fort Mitchell, 10 intruders would cross the river and enter Creek territory.
The hopelessness of the military’s position was reflected in the celebrated Hardeman Owen killing. Owen had planned but failed to murder the U.S. marshal. Troops at Fort Mitchell were called out to capture Owen, and in the ensuing melee he was killed. Georgia authorities charged the trooper who fired the fatal shot with murder and demanded the Army hand him over. The commandant refused. Tensions ran high and almost erupted into open warfare. In an attempt to settle the dispute, Francis Scott Key was dispatched by the administration to investigate the affair. He took up residence at Fort Mitchell and composed a report on the condition of the Creeks and the cause of the recent turmoil. He charged that the evils perpetrated on the Native Americans were caused by the weakness of the U.S. government in facing the aggressive actions of the settlers. Key went on to negotiate a settlement, which, after he returned to Washington, was rarely honored.
Creek desperation reached a crisis point in spring 1836. Under the leadership of Chief Eneah-Mathla, an estimated 1,500 warriors attacked the settlements. General Winfield Scott was ordered to intervene and succeeded in overcoming the attack. By July 1836, an estimated 1,600 Creek people were concentrated at Fort Mitchell in preparation for a forced expulsion West. Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 were eventually marched from Fort Mitchell to Montgomery, “shedding tears and making the most bitter wailings.” This route is known as the Trail of Tears.
In late 1980s, the old post cemetery at Fort Mitchell was officially identified as the location for a national cemetery in Federal Region IV, to serve veterans residing in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi. In May 1987, the 280-acre national cemetery opened.
Medal of Honor Recipients
Platoon Sergeant Matthew Leonard, (Vietnam) U.S. Army, Company B, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Suoi Da, Republic of Vietnam, Feb. 28, 1967 (Section 14, Grave 27).