“Marching Towards War” will be the theme of the annual Candlelight Tour at the Fort Scott National Historic Site.

“Marching Towards War” will be the theme of the annual Candlelight Tour at the Fort Scott National Historic Site.

More than 700 candle lanterns will illuminate the fort site, and more than 100 reenactors will bring scenes of the past to life.

Tours will be offered Dec. 3 and Dec. 4. On Dec. 3, tours will begin at 6:30 p.m. and go every 15 minutes until 9 p.m. Tours on Dec. 4 will run from 5 to 9 p.m.

Tour tickets will go on sale Monday, and may be picked up at the site visitors center or reserved by calling 620-223-0310. Reservations are required, and advanced purchase is recommended to obtain preferred tour times.

In the decades before the Civil War, the nation grew increasingly divided, primarily over the issue of slavery. Fort Scott was involved in events that contributed to this growing division. Disagreements and conflicts between community residents reflected the larger controversy.

Scenes on the tour will explore the issues that divided the nation in the mid-19th century.

The tour will open with a hospital scene where participants are debating the issue of slavery. Following will be a scene in the dragoon barracks just after the Mexican-American War, with dialogue revolving around the controversy of whether to allow slavery in the western territories.

Next will be a pair of scenes exploring the “Bleeding Kansas” controversy. Deputy Marshal John Little will  round up a posse to go after free staters operating an illegal court in the third scene, while in the fourth scene, set a year later, townspeople gather to mourn the death of one of Fort Scott’s leading citizens.

Final scene, set in December of 1860, will explore events that took place at Fort Scott following at a time following the election of Abraham Lincoln, when the southern states were starting to secede from the Union.

Cost of tour tickets will be $7 for adults, and free for children 5 and younger. Payment may be by cash, check or charge cards. Tickets are nonrefundable.

Western National Parks Association, which operates the site’s bookstore, sponsors the tour. Proceeds will cover the cost of conducting the tour.

From Monday through March 31, Fort Scott National Historic Site will be open for winter hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Anyone needing additional information about the tour or other events at the site may call 620-223-0310 or visit the web site at www.nps.gov/fosc.