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Tour the battlefield where John Brown,
fierce opponent of slavery, led his militia against
a proslavery force on June 2, 1856.
This armed clash, The Battle of Black Jack, is
considered by many to have been
the first battle
of The American Civil War.
Learn about the battle and its significance in the struggle over slavery
that was "Bleeding Kansas".
On a rise overlooking the
battlefield is a farmhouse
built by Robert Hall Pearson
Pearson fought beside Brown
at Black Jack and later returned
to carve out a prosperous farm
from the prairie.
To access a map of the Battle of Black Jack titled Prelude to War, published
by the Lawrence Journal-World for the
150th anniversary of the Battle, click here
For a brochure on the Black Jack Battlefield and Nature Park click here
On the western side of the property is the nature park.
The Black Jack Battlefield Trust is making a concerted effort to
restore major portions of the forty acres to its pristine condition.
Efforts are underway to manage encroaching woody growth and
restore native prairie through reseeding, prescribed fire, and
Early in the pre-dawn hours of June 2, l856 a group of
about twenty-five Kansas free-staters, led by the controversial abolitionist
John Brown, moved quietly across the prairie a few miles east of present-day
Baldwin City, Kansas. Within a few hours
they would be engaged in a pitched battle with seventy Missouri pro-slavery men
led by Captain Henry Clay Pate.
This confrontation had its roots in recent events
which had raised tensions in the area to the breaking point. Sheriff Jones and his pro-slavery forces had
sacked the town of Lawrence less than two weeks earlier, destroying the Free
State Hotel and dumping the newspapers’ presses into the river. Just three days later five people in Franklin
County were dragged from their homes and brutally murdered in the Pottawatomie
Massacre. John Brown and his sons were implicated in the killing, and Henry Clay
Pate set out to find him.
Pate, travelling west, camped at Black Jack Springs, a
popular campground along the Santa Fe trail, and it was here that he was
surprised by the attack of Brown’s men in the early morning light of June 2. Each side sought cover behind the banks of a
creek, and the firing went on for several hours before Pate, thinking he was
outnumbered, sought a truce. Brown,
however, took Pate as a prisoner and the battle was over. The Battle of Black
Jack was the first armed action in which forces of comparable strength fought over
the issue of slavery, and a growing number of historians agree that it was here
that the Civil War began.
Check out the Artist Blacksmith
Gate Project here !!
See spectacular views
from the 9th floor Terrace!
Stay at the Historic Eldridge
burned by Quantrill's Raiders
image: Robert Szabo
image: Robert Szabo
157th Anniversary of the Battle of Black Jack Commemoration event sponsors!
The past will be present on June 1st
157th Anniversay of the Battle of Black Jack
Battle of Black Jack....dawn of the Civil War
Click here for a detailed listing of our 2013 events
Larger view of June 1 event flyer here
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