Thursday, June 30, 2005
The Battle of Lexington
Today my sis & I took the kids to visit a Civil War historic site up in Lexington, MO, just a few miles north of us. (She's a big old Civil War buff & really wanted to see it.) The whole trip up, we eyed dark storm clouds and tried to gauge the distance of the lightning, but figured we were staying ahead of the front. Got a little lost on the way to the historic marker thingy, and ended up at the battle site itself, ten miles further down the road. This was a good thing, because the battle site had a little museum & a visitor's center & a cheesy film that ran whenever you requested that the docent start it. (It was about 15 minutes long and the biggest piece of Southern biased propaganda that I have ever personally witnessed, but it was still interesting.) The kids were bored and whiny with all that boring history stuff, so we grabbed a map and headed out for the walking tour, figuring they would run off some energy before the drive home.
Some back story: The battle of Lexington was fought in September of 1861, when Confederate forces surrounded & laid siege to the town and then fought a three-day battle to force the Federals into surrender. It is said to be one of the most convincing Southern victories in Missouri. A key feature of the battle is the old brick Anderson House, which was used as a field hospital and was captured several times (by both sides) over the course of the siege and battle.
The walking tour was the best part of the day. It started at the old Anderson house, still bearing the pockmarks of minie balls in its brick facade, once a stately home but now part of the museum. Then we walked back through the garden and into the remnants of the Union fortifications, the extensive earthworks and trenches now only shallow depressions on the rolling hills. Markers set about the grounds indicated various points of interest -- a gun emplacement here, a Union charge there. A small gravesite bore tribute to the remains of five unknown soldiers, found many years after the war ended when excavations were made for a new building.
The tour took us up along a ridge for the last three or four points of interest (including where the Confederates took shelter behind bales of hemp and rolled them forward for cover during their final advance on the Union troops -- a moveable entrenchment that was a rather brilliant bit of strategy;) but by this time we were seeing lightning strikes fairly close by & we didn't exactly feel too comfortable walking along an exposed ridge. So we cut that bit of the walk short & hustled back to the car, hoping to beat the rain. We did so by about 5 minutes, maybe -- drove home in a deluge that had everyone a little nervous (well, me anyway, since I was driving) -- but got home safe, thank the Goddess, in time for a little kicking back before we went out for barbecue. Yum!