A nation’s struggles summed up in one battle

By David Jackson
Special to The Examiner
Posted Aug 18, 2012

Independence, MO —

This weekend, August 17-19, the Lone Jack Historical Society (historiclonejack.org) is commemorating the gallant Civil War heroes – of the North and South – who fell Aug. 16, 1862, where “a solitary jack oak tree, situated upon a high prairie ridge between the waters of the Osage and Missouri rivers, in Jackson county, Missouri, was called upon to witness a battle between 600 Union soldiers and 5,000 (Confederates).”

Local historian and author Wayne Schnetzer compiled service records to determine that 65 Federals were killed and at least 29 later died from wounds received in battle. Confederate records are less complete, but at least 55 were known to have been killed, with at least four others who were wounded and died later.

For years, the annual Lone Jack picnic – originated on Aug. 23, 1867, when the monument to the Confederate dead was dedicated – drew people from near and far. Organizers continue to this day to work hard to sponsor the commemoration. This year is especially important. It’s the 150th anniversary of this significant Civil War battle. Lone Jack resident Steve Brown has also opened up his pastureland for some of the events in order to re-create a more authentic experience for visitors.

The re-enactment and living history event even has its own website (lonejackbattle150.org), offering detailed information on the schedule of events and ticketing.

Planned throughout the weekend are a parade, craft booths, vendors of delicious food and lots of activities and live entertainment. A highlight, of course, is the military honor guard wreath-laying ceremony in Soldiers Cemetery.

“Once again the roar of the cannon and muskets will be heard in Lone Jack!,” says www.lonejackbattle150.org. “Re-enactments on Saturday and Sunday will feature hundreds of authentically uniformed and equipped Union and Confederate troops, cavalry and artillery, and will re-create scenarios from the battle, including Cole Younger’s daring ride through the battle lines of the fight.”

Debuting this year is a candlelight tour, in which visitors can travel back in time as tour guides with lanterns guide participants to experience the sights and sounds of the battle’s aftermath. “Re-created living history vignettes that bear witness to the Lone Jack fight, in an intense, up-close and personal way.”

The Lone Jack Historical Society has set the stage for an impressive commemoration. I’ve even seen a souvenir T-shirt on their Facebook page.

The Battle of Lone Jack Museum, dedicated on Aug. 16, 1963, is also open and features new exhibits on the Battle of Lone Jack, the Battle of Westport, Order No. 11 and Quantrill’s burning of Lawrence. Special items are also on temporary loan from the National Park Service museum collection at Wilson’s Creek, the sight in Springfield of a major battle.

 “The Lone Jack Civil War Battlefield, Museum & Soldier’s Cemetery is the only Civil War Museum in Jackson County, Missouri, and one of the few battlefields where the soldiers, who perished during the battle, are still buried on the battlefield and it has not been designated as a National Cemetery.”

“(The) site represents the impact of the Civil War on this nation’s citizens as it exemplifies the national conflict as well as the deprivations and terror civilians in the Border Counties endured as renegade bands of guerrillas and irregular Union troops preyed on them from 1854, when the Border War started and continued throughout the war years. The constant threat from the numerous skirmishes, the spying of neighbor against neighbor, the irregular practices of draft enforcement and the depredations of the war set a true example of the war of brother against brother. This battle is indicative of the fratricidal nature of the Civil War in Missouri.”

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to recognize a truly significant event in local history.

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