Francis Marion Cockrell
Perhaps the most nationally recognized person in the cemetery, Francis Marion Cockrell served the state of Missouri in Washington as a Senator for 31 years from 1874 to 1905. This former Confederate General passed away in Washington and his remains were brought back to his hometown to be buried at Sunset Hill. The Johnson County Historical Society has extensive records on him and numerous other Warrensburg residents.
After his Johnson County birth in 1834, Francis Marion Cockrell would proudly serve the city of Warrensburg for the rest of his life. A practicing attorney when the Civil War began, Cockrell enlisted into the army and would make Missouri and the Confederate States of America proud. Beginning his military career as a state guard, Cockrell would eventually climb all the way up to Brigadier General and become the ferocious leader the south called upon while fighting in the western part of our divided nation.
Noted for his unbridled discipline, Cockrell marched Missouri troops to the beat of "The Bonnie Blue Flag" or "Dixie" as they prepared to engage with their attackers. He would never back down from any challenge and even stood toe to toe with powerful squadrons led by General Sherman long before his march to the sea. Cockrell played a major role in the historic siege of Vicksburg, helped fend off the North with General Samuel French at Lost Mountain, and nobly stood his ground defending Atlanta prior to the evacuation.
Battle of Franklin
Despite being wounded in two places at the Battle of Franklin, the Confederacy still achieved a temporary victory when Cockrell's garrison helped take over the enemy line. Facing enormous odds, only 40% of the hundreds of troops who began the Battle of Franklin were still in fighting condition following the short lived victory.
During the Civil War, southern troops fought with enormous fortitude and at times seemed to defy the natural rules of war by refusing to surrender. To many, dying in a cold, blood soaked field, beneath a crimson stained uniform would be more honorable than receiving food and comfort from the North. Missouri troops trained or led by Cockrell were tremendously successful. Official reports from both sides of the war indicate that some Missouri squadrons never failed even once at taking the enemy line or defending their own. This statistic alone would place our stubborn Missouri fighters as among the best warriors in the history of the world. As Brigadier General, Cockrell receives the highest credit for the discipline he instilled into the hearts and minds of those Missourians who fought so bravely during the war.
Following the war, Cockrell's commitment to public service refused to wane. After losing the 1874 gubernatorial election by only 1/4th of one vote in a convention of 1,000 delegates, he would go on to win election as a senator and serve in Washington D.C. for 30 years from 1875 to 1905. Cockrell was appointed Interstate Commerce Commissioner and helped to clarify the boundary dispute between Texas and New Mexico. The State of Missouri, the County of Johnson, and the City of Warrensburg will never forget their national hero.