My daughter is 10 and is currently studying the Civil War in school. Missouri has several historic Civil War sites in our northern part of the state so we rode my CB750 Nighthawk to Lexington, MO to visit one of these sites.
After a quick Saturday morning gas stop we were on our way.
We headed out of Excelsior Springs, MO on US 10 and turned south on US 13. Its been a while since I had been on this part of US 13 and the state had made some unexpected improvements. The two lane rural highway I had been expected is now a 70 MPH four lane highway (I knew the state had been working on US 13 but didn’t expect it quite this far north of Lexington). Lexington, MO is an old river town and is nestled in the rolling hills along the banks of the Missouri River.
After crossing the river we were almost there.
Upon arriving in Lexington it was nice to see traffic was at a minimum and there was plenty of parking in front of the Lafayette County Courthouse which was our first stop (The courthouse is the white building on the left and has been there since 1847).
During the battle of Lexington on September 18, 19, 20th 1861 a stray shot from a union canon penetrated one of the columns of the courthouse and is still there this day.
My daughter thought this was a really cool site to see!
After leaving the courthouse we made our way over to the Battle of Lexington Museum for a little further education about this 1861 battle between the Union and the Confederate armies. I have lived in this area for the past 21 years and still learn something new about this areas history every time I go to a place like this.
Today along with my daughter at the museum I learned a lot of interesting facts about north Missouri’s history. Most of the folks in this area were southern sympathizers and as talk of war became more frequent many homes readily flew the Confederate Stars and Bars on their home property. But as the first steamboat load of Union soldiers came into site on the river it seems the southern flags suddenly started to disappear and the town succumbed to the northern army.
The house in the background is the Anderson house and served as a field hospital during the September, 1861 battle.
General Sterling Price and his Confederate troops made their way up from Arkansas and defeated the Union army at Wilson’s Creek in southern Missouri and kept coming north all the way to Lexington, Missouri. Union troops from Kansas City, Saint Joseph, and other more distant areas were surrounded buy General Price’s army and defeated here on September, 20th, 1861 after the Union general raised the white flag of surrender.
It was said at the museum that more Union soldiers died at the hands of Confederate snipers with their squirrel guns shooting from trees on the second day than from the first day of heavy canon fire. But the most interesting part of the battle I think anyway is the tactic the southern army used to force the northern army’s surrender. They soaked large Hemp bales with water and rolled them toward the union strong hold while firing their guns from behind the bales The Union army’s canons and small arms fire could not penetrate the wet bales of hemp.
This whole area behind my bike was covered with smoke from canon and small arms fire in September of 1861 as the North and South fought here.
There is a plot marked off on the battle field for five fallen unknown soldiers and this whole area is a memorial for all of the lost soldiers from both the North and the South. This place is just a grim reminder of our sometimes violent past on our way to becoming the great nation we are today.
We started to get a little hungry after taking in all of this history so we headed over to a nearby Pizza Hut for lunch. Yes, this is our proverbial food photo that seems to be a tradition on the ADV board.
After lunch we headed down the 224 scenic byway and left Lexington, MO behind us.
The scenic 224 byway stretches east and west along banks the Missouri river. There was plenty of opportunity to enjoy the sites of old buildings, bridges and small towns as we made our way home.
We had a great time exploring our home area by motorcycle this Saturday afternoon and learned quite a bit about the local history at the same time.