Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Battle of Lexington

The Battle of Lexington in western Missouri is a nice park to visit. Its a state park that's not too far from Kansas City. Both times I've visited the park it was because I was in Kansas City for something else.

At the time the battle itself was a pretty big deal but quickly faded as larger battles came along. In September 1861 Sterling Price led his army into Missouri hoping to reclaim the state for the Confederacy. The town of Lexington on the Missouri River had Confederate sympathies and was garrisoned by a Union brigade. One of the key features of the battle was Anderson House, which has been preserved as part of the park and can be toured. The fighting swirled back and forth to hold the house, primarily because it offered a protected position for infantry fire against the main Union position at the top of the hill.

The other memorable aspect of the battle is that on the third day the Confederates formed a moving defensive position by rolling large hemp bales towards the Union position at the top of the hill. Bit by bit they moved along until close enough to charge the main lines. They weren't able to capture the Union lines there but it was obvious to their commander, Colonel James Mulligan, that their capture was only a matter of time. The Union was surrounded and running low on supplies, particularly water. So they surrendered. The Union lost about 160 of its nearly 3000 men while Confederate losses were only 100 of its 7000 man force.

Price's victory did not amount to too much as Fremont made a big push to drive Price out of Missouri. The weight of numbers forced Price to retreat to southwest Missouri and the Union then regained control of the Missouri River.

Here is a nice modern monument just outside of the visitor's center.

The previously mentioned Anderson House. The damage in the walls would have come from the Union lines. In this picture its best seen on the second floor on the far left.

Here is a close up view showing some of the damage.

Now we're on top of the hill looking at the Union entrenchments. There is a nice walking trail around the loop of entrenchments.

Here you can barely see the Missouri River.

The self guided tour does not have informational plaques at each stop. Instead it has numbered posts and you need the brochure from the visitor's center. While that is a fine way to do tours hopefully one day when they have more money they will put informational posts up instead. This marker was reached without going through the visitor's center so some people might be missing out on the history of the spot. I do not have my sheet available but believe this spot was used as a description of the Confederate attack coming up the relatively steep slope.

A small graveyard on the edge of the Union trenches.

Though from this headstone it is more likely that the soldiers were reburied in the closest national cemetery.


Ethan S. Rafuse said...

Great photos and commentary, Nick.

I came across your page while looking for stuff on Lexington to help me prep for the lecture I am giving on the battle to our local branch of the National Archives tomorrow night.

Went to Lexington two days ago with my daughter and took photos from many of the same spots you did. It is a great site. Its no Gettysburg or Chickamauga, but still neat.

Hope all is well and that another trip west to speak to your Round Table again is not *too* far in the future.

Ethan S. Rafuse said...

Great photos and description, Nick.

I came upon your page while looking for stuff on Lexington in preparation for a lecture I am giving tomorrow night on the battle at the local branch of the National Archives.

My daughter and I went to Lexington yesterday and stood in many of the exact same spots you did. Neat site. No Gettysburg or Chickamauga, but still pretty cool.

Hope all is well and not too much time will pass before I get to work with our Round Table again!

Nick said...

We'd love to have you back out again sometime.

scott davidson said...
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