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Archive for Sunday, February 11, 1996

CIVIL WAR ERA REVISITS LECOMPTON

February 11, 1996

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— Lecompton residents soon will get a taste of the city's heyday as a flash point for the Civil War.

Two groups of Civil War re-enactors have scheduled their annual ball for Feb. 17 in the city, about 10 miles northwest of Lawrence.

"About 70 people dressed in period attire will be there to dine and then dance to period music," said Dr. Merle Hodges, a member of the Frontier Battalion Battery B re-enactment group.

Joining members of Hodges' battalion will be the Eighth Kansas Volunteer Infantry re-enactment group.

"It's quite an affair," said Tim Rues, curator of Constitution Hall. "The men will be dressed in dress uniforms and white gloves. The women are in some really fantastic ball gowns."

Rues, who met the re-enactors when he was curator of a state historical site in Fort Riley, said no battles would be played out.

Hodges, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Salina, said the groups were excited to visit Lecompton.

"Lecompton, of course, has quite a name in pre-Civil War activities," he said.

For six years during the 1850s, Lecompton served as territorial capital of Kansas. During a constitutional convention that convened in 1857, delegates drafted a document that would have brought Kansas into the nation as a slave state.

The constitution, signed at Constitution Hall, helped push the nation into the Civil War.

"Lecompton is kind of a magical name for Civil War re-enactors because of all the events that occurred -- the free state and pro-slavery battles," Rues said.

Hodges said the event would kick off with a dinner at 6 p.m. at the United Methodist Church, followed by a dance at 8 p.m. at the Lecompton Community Building.

Rues said the dance would not be open to the public. However, he said, the groups would welcome visitors for an hour before the dance.

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