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?