Lecompton More than a hundred years before the U.S. military launched peacekeeping missions in the Balkans and the Middle East, U.S. soldiers were trying to keep peace among warring civilian factions in territorial Kansas.
In the 1850s, troops stationed at Forts Leavenworth and Riley had their hands full trying to quell bloody violence between Kansas free-staters and pro-slavery groups.
"The soldiers really dreaded the duty of getting between the two groups of civilians," said Tim Rues, administrator of Lecompton's Constitution Hall State Historic Site. "It wasn't where they wanted to be."
The problems those soldiers faced will be among the topics discussed during a series of programs about Kansas in the 1850s before the Civil War. The annual series, called "Bleeding Kansas '03," will be at 2 p.m. Sundays beginning Feb. 2 and ending March 9 at Constitution Hall, 319 Elmore St.
Historians who have studied the period will give talks and dramatic interpretations of the violent conflict in Kansas over the slavery issue. The programs are free and open to the public, though donations will be accepted, Rues said.
|"Bleeding Kansas '03," will be at 2 p.m. Sundays beginning Feb. 2 and ending March 9 at Constitution Hall, 319 Elmore St., Lecompton.|
"I think people are surprised when they realize the Civil War actually began right here," Rues said. "The first shots were really fired here."
- Feb. 2, "Buffalo Bill Cody: Life in Bleeding and Civil War Kansas." Buffalo Bill will be portrayed by historian Kirk Shapland.
- Feb. 9, "Border Ruffian Country: Missouri and the Bleeding of Kansas," Jeffrey L. Pasley, professor of history at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
- Feb. 16, "To Stem the Effusion of Blood," Kelvin Crow, assistant command historian at the combined arms command at Fort Leavenworth.
- Feb. 23, "Preserving the Peace and Protecting the Citizen: Fort Riley in the Territorial Years," William D. Young, professor of history, Maple Woods Community College, Kansas City, Mo.
- March 2, "Shawnee County: Local Politics and Kindred Matters," Roy Bird, Kansas State Library, historian and author.
- March 9, "Samuel Kookegey: Cuban Filibuster in Bleeding Kansas," Antonio de la Cova, professor, Latin American studies, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Filibusters were U.S. citizens who formed their own armies to try to extend slavery into Latin and South American countries.