Civil War

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

"Why does the Civil War still hold sway over St. Louis and Missouri?”

That was the intriguing — and very large — question that Steve Flick submitted to Curious Louis. “We just can't seem to be able to get beyond the Reconstruction Era in this state,” said Flick, a lifelong St. Louisan.

Alderman Lyda Krewson has introduced a measure to change the name of Confederate Drive in Forest Park to East Cricket Drive.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

An alderman from the central corridor has launched an effort to remove a commemoration of the Civil War from Forest Park.

The full text of 28th Ward Democrat Lyda Krewson's measure is just nine lines long. It renames Confederate Drive, an approximate 600-foot-long road that runs past the Confederate memorial near the visitors' center, to Cricket Drive East.

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.

(Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio)

Ameren's plan to dump coal waste moves forward

Ameren’s plan for a coal waste dump in an eastern Missouri floodway  has moved a step forward.

Ameren operates a power plant along the Missouri River in the Franklin County town of Labadie and dumps coal ash into two ponds. Those ponds are near capacity and Ameren wants to fill the river bottom with coal waste and surround it with a 20-foot-tall levee.  

Missouri Hopes For Boost From Civil War Tourism

Jun 22, 2011

With 2011 marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's beginning, tourists and history buffs are expected to travel to famous battle sites, such as Gettysburg and Bull Run, in record numbers. Missouri would like some of that attention — only Virginia and Tennessee contain more Civil War battle sites.

Missouri was on the western front of the Civil War. The Battle of Wilson's Creek was fought there; in total, more than 1,000 skirmishes and battles took place in the state.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Thousands of spectators are expected in Boonville, Mo. this weekend for the 150th anniversary of one of the Civil War’s first battles.

The Battle of Boonville took place June 17, 1861 as Confederate-leaning Missouri Guard members met Union troops.

Boonville, a town of about 6,400 is expecting 700 re-enactors and 10,000 to 20,000 visitors.

In the first weeks of the Civil War Missouri tried to remain neutral.

But May 10, 1861 was the tipping point.

In what came to be known as the Camp Jackson Affair, federal troops captured members of Missouri’s militia and killed 28 civilians in the chaos that followed.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman reports on what happened that day 150 years ago and how it forced Missouri into the war.

Ulysses S. Grant
(via Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Library of Congress)

Missouri's Civil War Heritage Foundation is trying to raise money for a driving trail exploring Ulysses S. Grant's path through the state in the first year of the Civil War.

The group is hosting a fundraising dinner next Wednesday at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis.

Foundation president Gregory Wolk says they're working on a segment of the Grant Trail in St. Louis County and in talks with other counties about future projects. 

(Missouri History Museum)

Civil War buffs who want to make St. Louis a part of their itinerary during the sesquicentennial of the war have a new website to help them plan their trip.

The Missouri History Museum and the St. Louis Conventions and Visitors Commission unveiled the Freedom's Gateway Web site today.

The 150th anniversary of the Civil War begins in April.

There were some 1,200 battles and skirmishes fought on Missouri soil. Only Virginia and Tennessee saw more clashes.

Missourians were often fighting their own neighbors, or even family members, as the state’s residents split between the Union and Confederacy.

One hundred fifty years later, Missourians still are not unified in how they remember the war or even what to call it.

As St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman reports, some hope the sesquicentennial will change that.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

And just in time comes historian Adam Arenson’s new book “The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and the Cultural Civil War.”

While Arenson is a professor at the University of Texas El Paso, he spent a year in St. Louis doing research for his book.

Slave auctions were once commonplace in Missouri. Families were separated, people were property and the event of the auction itself was a harsh one.

In recognition of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War in 2011, the St. Louis American reports on the plan for several local organizations to reenact a slave auction -- right on the steps of the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis.