Sunday, October 19, 2014

Civil War Sunday-All Ignored at The Western Front

Many of my blog readers know me as someone who was raised in New York City, and ended up living much of her life in upstate New York, near Binghamton.  But there is another part of me.

I spent my early adult life in what many consider the midwestern portion of the United States (Arkansas, Texas, Kansas, and Iowa ) and, when I study the United States Civil War as someone interested in history, I sometimes like to blog about that part of the country.

Missouri, a border state whose citizens fought on both side of the war, suffered greatly. However, many of its battles are relatively unknown to the casual follower of Civil War history, who concentrates on the battles along the East Coast.

And, some of the ugliest events of the war happened in Missouri.

Arkansas?  Nearly 30 years ago, I lived near two Civil War battlegrounds, one of which has never been honored with an official park.

I  never really investigated the history of that area until I returned last year, for the first time since I left in the mid 1980's.  I was amazed at what I found out about ruins (a mill and an abandoned college) I passed on the way to work every day for nearly four years.

And Kansas?  Some of us remember "Bleeding Kansas", as Kansas became a battlefield overrun by pro and anti slavery combatants, some seven or so years before the Civil War began officially.  I lived in Kansas in the late 1970's, due to my spouse's job.   I enjoyed my time in Wichita.

Yesterday, a battlefield in Kansas, Mine Creek, held its 150th anniversary commemoration (the actual battle took place October 25, 1864).   It's a battle, unknown mostly to those of us who live on the East Coast, and one of the best preserved Civil War battlefields.

The Confederates had invaded Missouri in August of 1864 in an attempt to disrupt the 1864 Presidential election, when President Lincoln was running against-well, you would have to read it to believe it, and I just may have to blog about that election in the next couple of weeks. (Hopefully, I'll have the time).   Missouri, a slave state, had remained in the Union, and capturing it would have been an impressive victory for the Confederacy. 

After a number of victories in Missouri, the Confederates headed into neighboring Kansas. Their destination was Ft. Scott, Kansas, a major supply depot.

But at Mine Creek (also known as the Battle of the Osage), the Confederates were turned back.  After the Union victory,the rebels were chased back into Missouri, and then, pushed back either further into Indian Territory (now the state of Oklahoma).

I only wish I had known about Mine Creek when I had lived in Kansas.  I didn't have time to go there during my Arkansas vacation last year.  It was just a handful of hours away by car.

How many people showed up at the 150th Mine Creek commemoration yesterday?  About 400, I understand from Mine Creek's Facebook page.  It made me a little sad, with better known battle commemorations on the East Coast drawing thousands more.  In fact, some 30,000 are expected in a small town in Virginia next April, for the 150th commemoration of General Robert E. Lee's surrender.

Have you ever studied lesser known history?

10 comments:

  1. - I love Matt Bomer, he's from Missouri (I just thought I'd throw that in there) ;P
    I always feel like I have learned something new after I have read your posts. Thanks Alana!

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    1. Matt Bomer is one handsome man, isn't he? He was born near St. Louis, which is located right along the Mississippi River.But, now, back to the Civil War. Control of the Mississippi was a major strategic objective for both sides of the war, but this happened on "the other side" of the state. I'm happy to help expand knowledge of the Civil War.I know so little about British history - we just weren't taught about it much here in the States.

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  2. Reading your blog for the ultimate challenge event and you have peaked my interest. I am 45 years old and never gave a care about history, until about 15 years ago when I met an author, William Styple, doing a book signing at Gettysburg, dressed in Union attire. I was buying my dad a signed book on history for the holidays, when I always did. When I met this author, something magnificent happened, which I would love to share with you in a personal email if you are interested. Anyway, we ended up conversing for a year or more about his events that happened to him while writing a famous book called The Sunday Mercury, which was like the NY Times during its run, with posts from soldiers about the civil war,not knowing the outcome. Since that moment, I have been crazed for history, and the Civil War, being one of my favorite subjects. Yes, you are so right that those states are so much lesser known than the East Coast sights. I am from West Virginia, and we have a few sites of our own and reenactments that draw thousands. Your article is very interesting, and I did not know of the event you mentioned. Fascinating.

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    1. For whatever strange reason, I don't get into historical writing too much (maybe it reminds me too much of boring school?) but I did have the pleasure of meeting Jeff Shaara at the 150th of Antietam in September of 2012 He was an excellent speaker and really made things come alive.

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  3. Hey! I'm not sure if my other comment posted but if it didn't here ya go - I used to hate history! Least favorite subject when I was in school but with getting older and maturing a bit I can really appreciate history and it completely intrigues me. I liked this post just for that- to learn something I didn't know! thanks for sharing :)

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    1. I only received one comment from you. Blogger has a habit of sometimes eating comments. I think history is not well taught in school - it is not a list of dry dates and "who cares" events but (as we both know) the fascinating story of humanity.

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  4. I know very little about history and have lived in California my whole life so this is interesting.

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    1. There is a lot of history in California - I have only visited California (other than changing planes in an airport) one time in my life. It deserves much more attention from me.

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  5. There is so much history where-ever you live. I love discovering old pictures of my own neighbourhood and imagining who lived there at that time.

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    1. I agree with you completely. I understand the housing project I grew up in used to be a "goat farm" - I have always wanted to know more, but I can't seem to locate any information.

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