Kansas marks 160 years since the beginning of the deadly conflict
One hundred and sixty years ago, the war between Northern and Southern states erupted and overshadowed what was already the strife-torn and violent territory of Kansas. Communities that had seen outbreaks of raids and gun battles were engulfed in the larger national conflict. On October 14, 1861, the war came to Humboldt as 331 Confederate raiders swept into the pro-Union town. With all able-bodied men fighting elsewhere, the town’s only defense was the Home Guard, organized after a band of Southern guerrillas attacked Humboldt just a month earlier. Composed of older men and young boys, the Home Guard could do little to stop the raiders from burning down the town.
Often overlooked in the history of the Civil War, the destruction of Humboldt is etched in the town’s memory and commemorated through a public memorial created by area artist Bob Cross. Throughout Humboldt stand a dozen polished black granite tablets, each mounted on stone and each containing a text describing what happened during the raid at that particular location.
One spot, for example, describes how a quick-thinking Sophia Fussman wrapped account books and other valuables in a feather bed she then threw down a nearby well as the raiders set homes and businesses on fire. Another marker identifies where the only Confederate soldier killed in the raid was shot as he attempted to remove a Union flag.
The markers allow for a self-guided tour, beginning at the city square with a composite mural describing the location of all individual markers found in a 10-square block area. A brochure detailing locations and more information is also available at several local businesses and at City Hall.
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