Jefferson City group to host Civil War event
Saturday, February 22, 2014
The Civil War touched Jefferson City in less devastating terms than more eastern states.
Yet authentic sites and historical footnotes are rich in the Capital City.
The greatest of these likely is “The Battle That Never Was,” when Confederate Gen. Sterling Price led a raid from Arkansas to the city’s outskirts intent on reclaiming the capital in October 1864.
Gov. Claiborne Jackson had been elected in 1860, but because he was a southern sympathizer, the Union troops from St. Louis chased him out of the state, making him the governor-in-exile. For that term, Missouri had two governors, with the provisional government appointed by state convention.
The Historic City of Jefferson recently committed to host a Commemoration of the 150th anniversary of The Battle That Never Was.
“This is a great event we knew we ought to do,” said HCJ President Steve Veile.
Price left Pocahontas, Ark., on Sept. 19, 1864, headed for St. Louis. But, his momentum and numbers were crushed at the Battle of Pilot Knob in southeast Missouri while also receiving word St. Louis had been fortified.
Yet he continued toward Jefferson City, the goal being to reinstate the Confederate government before the November election. Thomas Reynolds, who was elected lieutenant governor in 1860, rode with Price, since they believed him to be the true constitutional governor after Jackson died in 1862.
Leading about 2,000 troops, Price arrived on the outskirts of Jefferson City to find the Union soldiers heavily occupied here.
Local legend says he slept at the Wallendorf home — which has been restored and relocated by Missouri Farm Bureau as an agricultural education museum.
Instead of moving from there into what would have been an arduous military attempt, he turned his focus to the west.
Jefferson City suffered from neighbors suspicious of neighbors, from Union occupation depleting resources and from an influx of refugees due to rural skirmishes. But it was spared from battle.
The Historic City of Jefferson hopes to hold a trolley tour of five or six local stops, where Civil War history lies under the earth.
Some potential sites are privately owned, so organizers will talk with owners in the near future to settle on the best locations.
Possible venues include Bolton’s Ford, Greenberry Spring, Moreau Heights monument, McClung Park, College Hill, the Capitol, the Dulle home, the Missouri State Penitentiary, Cole County Historical Society’s Jim McHenry Civil War Room and Lincoln University.
Price encamped near Jefferson City from Oct. 6-8, 1864, so the organization likely will hold the event noon-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5.
Many other Civil War events and re-enactments are scheduled this fall in relation to Price’s cross-state raid, including remembering the Centralia Massacre Sept. 13-14, Battle of Pilot Knob Sept. 27-28, and the Battle of Glasgow Oct. 11-12.
Organizers welcome input and ideas for the living history-style event.
“We want to provide an atmosphere, giving people an idea of what it was like,” Veile said.
In addition to recruiting Civil War re-enactors, organizers hope to offer music and educational displays at each stop.
And as a lasting memorial, Historic City of Jefferson will support a local historian, who is preparing a definitive book on the history of Price in Jefferson City.
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