A little over three years ago, Schnickelfritz and I went to Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis for the 150th anniversary reenactment of The Camp Jackson Affair. It commemorated the first skirmish of the Civil War to occur in Missouri (just a few days after Fort Sumter). I mentioned in my post that now was the opportunity to study the Civil War as most battles would be having special 150th anniversary events. Some would simply be larger, others that don’t normally host re-enactments would be doing so (like our trip to Wilson’s Creek). I hope you heeded by warning. Now we’re reaching the end of that cycle with the one of the final events, in Missouri anyway –The Battle of Pilot Knob.
In September 1864 Confederate Maj. Gen. Sterling Price led 14,000-15,000 men into Missouri. His goals were to capture Union supplies and weapons, find sympathizers to recruit, and if possible get the attention of Union forces east of the Mississippi River and divert them from Confederate troops that had already been pummeled. On Sept. 26th, Price led an attack on Fort Davidson near Pilot Knob. The fighting went on for several days until the Union commander of the fort, Gen. Ewing ordered an evacuation of the fort. The Union soldiers snuck out in the middle of the night and when they were safely away a small group of men left behind blew up the powder magazine, denying the Confederates the supplies and weapons they were seeking. Price’s realized he had lost too many troops in attempting to take the fort and had to abandon plans to capture either St. Louis or Jefferson City.
Sept 27 & 28 will be our first trip to Pilot Knob so I’ve been reading up on what to expect. On both days, the camps open to the public at 8 AM and the main battle commences at 1:30 in the afternoon. The museum and sutlers’ tents will be open both days. I’m particularly interested in seeing the blowing up of the fort on Saturday night!
I have always maintained that one of the best ways for you kids to learn history is by letting them interact with re-enactors. Most of these men (lets face it, even if the whole family is involved it’s usually the men’s idea) are very passionate about the era or the war they are representing—the study in their “off-season” to be as historically accurate as possible. And they love sharing their knowledge with kids! Some even go to the trouble of setting up special days just for students to tour the camps. Our homeschool group got to fire the cannons at a Lewis & Clark event while another man appealed to the gross factor by explaining field medicine during the Corp of Discovery—the boys LOVED it.
Pilot Knob only hosts reenactments every third year (they actually waited 4 years to line up with this anniversary), so if you miss this event you’ll have to wait for a while to go again and of course it won’t be a big anniversary year in 2017. HINT: Bring hearing protection, those cannons can get loud!
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