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Border Wars : Black Jack

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  • Border Wars : Black Jack

    Not initially on the plan for the day of scouting, the Black Jack field near Baldwin City proved to be the unexpected highlight of a full day of battlefield touring.

    The Battle of Black Jack (near Baldwin City, Kansas N 38 45.834' W 095 07.853') is perhaps the first battle of the American Civil War. Fought on June 2, 1856, the battle pitted John Brown, Samuel Shore and approximately 20 Free-State Militia against Henry Pate and his pro-slavery militia numbering approximately 75 men.

    Pate and his men had been searching the Kansas prairie for John Brown, nominally to serve a warrant for the Pottawatomie Massacre. The Free-Staters were encamped 3 miles West of the battlefield at Prairie City when Pate’s men discovered them. With Brown safely fortified within a church, Pate spent the evening of June 1 encamped near the battlefield while Brown and his men closed with him under the cover of darkness.

    The skirmish took place on a small open area of a few acres bound by Black Jack Creek. The ravines that contain the channels of the creek form a "Y" with the primary field contained within the upper "V". The combatants found cover in the ravines and a substantial firefight ensued. Pate, aware of his close proximity to Lawrence, did not know how many men opposed him and feared that he would be encircled either by the Free-Staters on the field or by reinforcements from Lawrence. This fear was magnified when the Free-Staters began targeting his horses and mules (the loss of which would trap Pate and his men on the field) and when one of John Brown's sons rode through the center of the field, swinging a saber and reportedly shouting "Father, we have them surrounded.”

    Pate and his men surrendered to Brown and Shore (Articles of Surrender) and the fight ended.

    Though the battle and the field are not large, the interpretation offered by The Black Jack Battlefield Trust made this a great stop.

    Marker @ highway 56


    The memorial at the State Park


    List of combatants - Pearson memorial


    Looking across the field from Brown's position towards the pro-slavery lines (note the natural cover provided by the ravine)


    One of the great representatives of the Black Jack Trust - Kerry Altenbernd
    Tours are currently being given from 1-4 on Saturdays. See their site for more details.
    Last edited by traygreen; 19 Aug 07, 12:34.
    Tray Green

    www.abandofgamers.com

    Battlefield Tours for Wargamers
    Normandy 2007
    ACW Border Wars 2008
    Bulge 2008

  • #2
    Cool pics... I was in Kansas this past weekend visiting my in-laws and had plans on stopping in Lawrence but didn't make it. Hopefully the next trip.

    Lot's of history in Kansas.
    Civil War in Missouri and Kansas
    If I cared for my life I would have lost it long ago; wanting to lose it I cannot throw it away.-- William T. "Bloody Bill" Anderson

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    • #3
      Not so much in Lawrence, unless you get in during the Quatrill stuff - was a couple of weeks ago.

      On Black Jack, just the markers there with the field. Little in the way of interpretation. You REALLY need to go with someone who knows the history & field. I really recomend getting there when the trust has members out - they do a really excellent job on interpretation and color.
      Tray Green

      www.abandofgamers.com

      Battlefield Tours for Wargamers
      Normandy 2007
      ACW Border Wars 2008
      Bulge 2008

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