Civil War

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

The elm and oak trees have grown tall with age in Section 57 of Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in south St. Louis County. It’s a quiet place, where songbirds rule the peace from the branches above.

Amid the white marble tombstones, row on row, stands one stone obelisk from another era. It marks the final resting place of African-American Civil War soldiers from Missouri who died from cholera in August 1866, as they made their way home from the war.

Author John Keene
Nina Subin / Courtesy of the author and New Directions

John Keene’s short story collection “Counternarratives” reimagines popular stories in American literature from the African-American perspective. His characters travel throughout the Americas, fight in the Civil War and experience depression-era New York. Keene spoke with  St. Louis Public Radio’s Willis Ryder Arnold about the book’s connections to St. Louis and to the grand American narrative. You can listen to the interview or read the highlights below.

Lindenwood professor Angela da Silva organized the May, 9 2015 Mary Meachum celebration. She poses here with an Abe Lincoln reenactor so in character that he wouldn't acknowledge any other name.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

An annual celebration remembering St. Louis’ participation in the Underground Railroad had added meaning this year. The 12th Mary Meachum event on Saturday also marked the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War.

Held on the banks of the Mississippi where free black woman Mary Meachum tried to lead slaves across the river to freedom in Illinois, this year’s historical remembrance was billed as “The Great Jubilation” — a re-enactment of the days in the spring of 1865 when enslaved St. Louisans learned the war was over and they were free.

'Ain't No Harm to Kill the Devil' by Jeffrey Copeland
Courtesy of Jeffrey Copeland

Among abolitionists, John Fairfield was unique: He was brutal, not above a shootout; he created elaborate ruses to rescue slaves; and he charged for his work.

Fairfield was born in Virginia to a slave-owning family.

“John, as a very young man, had a very dear friend, one of the younger slaves, he grew up with,” said author Jeffrey Copeland . His book “Ain’t No Harm to Kill the Devil: The Life and Legend of John Fairfield, Abolitionist for Hire,” examines Fairfield’s life.

Wikipedia Commons

St. Louis played a key role in the Civil War. Not only was it a significant naval base, but a riot at the edge of town led to the creation of Missouri’s militia and the effects of the war can still be felt today.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

The Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing, on the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Louis, will be turned into a Civil War training camp tomorrow at the 11th annual Freedom Crossing Event Celebration.

(via Flickr/Jo Naylor)

As a border state during the Civil War, the state of Missouri was home to numerous battles and skirmishes.  The state’s residents were divided, supporting both sides of the war.

Barbara Harbach is the composer of a new work called “A State Divided – Missouri Symphony for String Orchestra.”  The piece has three movements and each represents a major chapter in the history of Missouri’s role in the Civil War. 

NPR's Claire O'Neill takes a forward-thinking approach to historical photographs. See for yourself via the link.

(The Midland Montly Magazine, 1865)

The Missouri History Museum is opening a new exhibit Saturday called “The Civil War in Missouri.”

There’s a lot of ground to cover in a state that was bitterly divided by the war and saw more than 1,200 battles and skirmishes.

But the museum, founded just one year after the Civil War ended, has a treasure trove of artifacts from the era that bring the conflict to life.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman got a sneak peak.

(via Flickr/Jo Naylor)

"It's not the large, organized, and, later in the war, the drafted armies that you see on the East Coast. This is very personal. You know, you better know who your neighbor is, and where their sympathies lie, or they're going to be turning you in, so to speak."

- Connie Langum, National Park historian on the nature of Civil War battles in Missouri

Today marks the 150-year anniversary of the Battle of Wilson's Creek near Springfield, Mo.

It was the second major battle of the Civil War, after Bull Run, and the first major battle to take place west of the Mississippi River.

About 2,500 men died or were wounded at the site, which is now known as Wilson's Creek National Battlefield.

St. Louis Public Radio's Maria Altman spoke with National Park historian Connie Langum about what happened on that day a century and a half ago, and how it will be remembered this week.

Listen to their conversation above.

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