Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Urban Battlefield Preservation

Efforts to preserve the Franklin, Tennessee, battlefield have been much publicized, but there has been an even more extensive preservation project in Kansas City, Missouri. A column by Daniel L. Smith in the latest issue of Civil War News details attempts to preserve the site of the Battle of Westport. The battle took place from October 21-23, 1864 and was one of the largest battles in the trans-Mississippi. Smith discusses preservation challenges there: “Today, the Westport battlefield is located entirely within the urban confines of Kansas City. It is as if the City of Philadelphia had been placed on top of the Gettysburg battlefield.” The Monnett Battle of Westport Fund is a nonprofit organization that has played a key role in preserving and developing the battlefield for visitation. Today, there is a visitor center that overlooks Byram’s Ford, and there is a “mile-long corridor along the Byram’s Ford Road across the battlefield, containing more than 200 acres.” The Fund is named for the late Dr. Howard N. Monnett, a native of Kansas City and an expert on the battle.

Many events, including a reenactment, are scheduled for October 23-26 to mark the 150th anniversary of the battle. The Battle of Westport website has a lot of helpful information such as brochures for a self-guided auto tour and a walking tour.

(All quotes were from the October 2014 issue of Civil War News.)

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