Back to what's 'In the News'

Civil War Events in Kansas City

January 07, 2014

Over 150 years ago, in the year 1861, the Civil War commenced and Kansas City became ground zero in the west because of our unique bi-state status with conflicting pro and anti-slavery forces. Learn more about our rich history and celebrate our heritage with the community this year. Your KC region Civil War events start at! 

1. Celebrating 150 years of community in 2014, the City of Merriam will host a historic art exhibition and community trolley tour on Thursday, May 15, 2014.  We will be showcasing pivotal moments in Merriam's history from our founding by the David Gee Campbell to Merriam Park's bustling recreation in the 1880's to the monumental case that ended desegregation in Merriam schools. This exhibit and tour will celebrate our community's heritage as we look towards the next 150 years.   
2. The Osawatomie Freedom Festival will be held in John Brown Memorial Park in Osawatomie on Saturday, September 20th & Sunday, September 21. John Brown Memorial Park is the site of the Battle of Osawatomie, which was fought between John Brown and 30- 45 Free State guerilla fighters and John Ried and 250 proslavery militia men on August 30, 1856. Activities include Civil War weapons and drill demonstrations, a reenactment of the Battle of Osawatomie on the actual battlefield, and a reenactment of a battle between Union troops and Confederate Partisans. On hand will be frontier artisans, first person narratives of Civil War era historic figures, special tours of the John Brown Museum State Historic Site, children's activities, and many other family fun activities! For more information call the John Brown Museum State Historic Site at 913-755-4384 or e-mail at 

3. In 1857, the Mahaffie family moved from Indiana to the promising new settlement of Olathe, Kansas. It was an age of opportunity on the frontier. It was also a time of uncertainty and danger on the Kansas/Missouri border in the years before the actual Civil War began. Exhibits and videos in the visitor center of the Mahaffie Farmstead tell these stories while living history activities and stagecoach operations bring the 1865 stone farmhouse and outbuildings to life in the spring, summer and fall. Experience the same sights, sounds, and smells as travelers on the Kansas frontier in the years after the Civil War. Discover a working nineteenth century farm with livestock where your family can engage in some of the activities that were part of the daily life for the Mahaffie family and their neighbors. Mahaffie is open with FREE admission on Thursdays from 6pm to 8pm. Activities and admission fees vary by season. For more information call 913.971.5111. 

4. Through the haze of black powder smoke, glimpses of soldiers-some well-uniformed in blue and gray, others in the rag-tag period attire of irregulars-come into focus. As one line of soldiers advance, the boom of cannon reverberates off the distant hills. Do you take cover or continue to enjoy your sarsaparilla and kettle corn? Of course, you choose the latter; you're not in any danger, after all. You're spending an enjoyable afternoon watching history intentionally repeat itself at a Civil War reenactment. Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area offers several high-quality, historically-based reenactments throughout the year. The commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War provides visitors with an opportunity to see battle reenactments done as historically accurate as possible and on a scale not seen since the 1860s. In addition to large battle reenactments, there are many opportunities to encounter first-person reenactments-local historians taking on the role of historical characters-or living history-demonstrations of 19th century life. Whether you're planning a trip to watch a battle play out in front of you, talk to a 19th century character, wander through a Civil War encampment, or do all three, Overland Park is at the heart of your explorations of Freedom's Frontier.  

5. Often referred to as the "Gettysburg of the West," this conflict was the largest Civil War battle west of the Mississippi River and the last full-scale engagement in Missouri. Fought 150 years ago in October 1864, the Battle of Westport engaged 30,000 soldiers and marked the climactic end to a decade of war and turbulence along the Missouri/Kansas border. In commemoration of the sesquicentennial, a reenactment is scheduled for Oct. 24-26. To learn more, stop by the battle's visitor center in Swope Park or take the designated walking tour through KC's historic Westport neighborhood.



More Info: Reenactors demonstrate cannon fire in St. Joseph, Missouri._d5fbaa.JPG