Area history comes alive in Baxter Springs


BAXTER SPRINGS, Ks. — Community members and history buffs alike brought the area’s past into the present.

“We think history is important, we think people should know the real history of what happened here in the Civil War,” says Larry Rhodes, 22nd Arkansas Unit C Captain.

That history was on display in Baxter Springs, where re-enactors from all over the Four States gathered to help bring the past back to life for a Civil War encampment.

Mary Billington, Baxter Springs Heritage Center & Museum Director, says, “It is a fantastic tribute to the amount of work that goes into planning these things to have these people come out and enjoy it, and have a good time, for the weather to cooperate with us.”

On top of displays, dances and soldier camp life, event goers were able to see the city turned into a battle ground once again.

“We drill in the mornings so we know what our techniques are going to be in the battle,” says Matthew Emde, Colonel of 1st Arkansas Battalion, “We did the attack on Fort Blair and tried to replicate the massacre as best we could for our second battle.”

Larry Rhodes says, “They had just received about 100 extra troops and they were in the process of enlarging the garrison when Quantrill attacked with 400 men. He did not succeed in breaching the fort.”

While the last shots may have been fired for now, there is more on the horizon.

Instead of bringing back the encampment again next year, organizers want to take some time to prepare it for an upcoming milestone.

“2023 will be the 160th anniversary of Quantrill’s attack on our campsite,” says Mary Billington, “We are going to make this a part of the museum’s heritage, to bring this forward and so starting two years from now, every two years there will be an encampment.”

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