Civil War one fifty

Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War & the Missouri-Kansas border region's unique place in the bloody four-year conflict.

The Kansas City Star

August Part five of five

The Civil War is over. Everyone who lived it, dead as dinosaurs. But seemingly on every weekend, somewhere in the United States, the blue and gray rise up again. Thousands step into 19th century shoes to “feel” the history. On a recent day, Sara Pelis, mother of eight, grandmother to four, was packing for her entire family before a re-enactment event at Wilson’s Creek near Springfield, where they would join 3,000 others like them. All traveling back in time. For weeks, Pelis has sifted through her family’s stash of historically authentic clothes, camping gear and cooking ware like the …

Today’s military is still learning from Civil War Part four of five

LEAVENWORTH | A more fitting place for Army officers to come and study insurgencies and counterguerrilla tactics would be hard to find in the United States. For it was from right here that Union soldiers ventured out to butt heads with the bushwhackers who ruled the nearby Missouri countryside. Proud of its part in taming the West, Fort Leavenworth offers little evidence, beyond some old graves in the cemetery, of its history in the bloody suppression of revolt next door. No displays about “jayhawkers” or “Red Legs” are in the post museum; no statues of their commanders are to …

Southern discomfort Part three of five

The pickup rattles along Route H in Oak Grove until it stops square with a gnarled tree. “This is it,” says Jack Hackley. The spot where he still sees the Civil War. He strides through a freshly mowed pasture and squints through the haze toward distant hills. Then, stamping his foot, he declares: “right where my great-grandfather stood when he watched it.” Nearly 150 years ago, James L. Turner was eyewitness to nine burning homesteads … orange flames … black smoke … blue uniforms… “I always heard the smoke from those fires just curled up.” Hackley’s finger draws tiny …

Freedom’s distant cry Part two of five

BUTLER, Mo. | The wind-whipped field looks no different from millions of others. Even as a field of battle, it is hardly distinguishable from thousands. But these grassy acres west of town are hallowed. Here, in October 1862, black men — escaped slaves and freedmen both — fought rebels in a bloody hand-to-hand skirmish as an American unit for the first time. “Like tigers,” noted one Southern man who tangled with them here at Island Mound. Willadina Johnson and her cousins had known nothing about the bravery of these African-American defenders of their country or how this moment made …

Did we really learn? Part one of five

Nowhere else were the Civil War's hostilities more tightly coiled and personal than the Kansas-Missouri border area

At his inauguration, the eloquent but embattled president from Illinois spoke hopefully of the “mystic chords of memory” keeping Americans united. Those chords now keep the Civil War echoing, 150 years after he, Abe Lincoln, watched it erupt. Beginning with the Tuesday sesquicentennial of Southern cannons firing on Fort Sumter, S.C., a nation divided by some of the same arguments — about federal reach versus states’ rights, about old economy versus new, about race and religion — embarks on a four-year observance of a war that rewrote most everything. The real flashpoint predates Fort Sumter by several years, however. …