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Trip to Lexington, MO

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Location: Liverpool, NY

PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 12:08 pm    Post subject: Trip to Lexington, MO Reply with quote

Earlier I mentioned the 8th grade field trips to the State Capitol in Jefferson City, MO. Another anticipated trip was to the county seat in Lexington. As part of our civics and history instruction, the objective was to visit the County Court House and the Civil War battlefield there.

At the start of the tour, we arrived at the front of the courthouse where we were shown the cannonball lodged at the top of the leftmost front column. It had landed there when the Confederate Army had bombarded the area during the Civil War Battle of Lexington. (I assume it is still there. It fell out a few times, but was plastered back in place because it was a well-known tourist attraction.)

Inside the courthouse, we were ushered into the court chambers in hopes that there would a session in progress. Some hoped that it would by a titillating criminal trial; but while we were there the only activity was a boring motion to dismiss a case. We were also led to the prison in the courthouse and given a lecture about obeying the law.

We then proceeded to the site of the Battle of Lexington, also known as the "Battle of the Hemp Bales". During the mid-1800s, one of Lafayette County's major exports was hemp. Actually, it was a nice cash crop for a number of farmers in the Concordia area, supplementing their normal crops. Bales of hemp were stacked by the riverfront to be shipped down the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers to the South where is was used to make rope for baling cotton. During the battle, the Confederate troops pushed the hemp bales in front of them as a moving shield while they advanced toward the Union entrenchments.

At the end of the tour we visited the Anderson House, which was used as a hospital during the battle. An account of the battle relates an interesting anecdote about one of the things that happened there. According to the story, a priest was present at the house before the battle began. On the eve of the battle, a Union officer came to visit the priest and asked for his blessing. While he was still there, a Confederate officer arrived at the front porch for the same purpose. The Union officer quietly slipped out of the back door to avoid a confrontation. Whether they came purely for religious reasons, to check on the condition of the wounded, or to reconnoiter the area was not clear. The house was in a strategic place in the battleground. [I've read this story somewhere but can't locate the reference.]

What I remember about the Anderson House are the rope burn marks we were shown in the second floor railing above the grand staircase. Reportedly, some Confederate soldiers were hung there for attacking a hospital. (Another use for hemp.) Whether or not all of what we were told were factual accounts, we believed them.
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