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  • Miners Hall Museum exhibit shows local involvement in the Civil War

  • A new exhibit titled “A Nation Divided - The American Civil War” will be on view now through Sept. 28 at the Miners Hall Museum, Franklin.

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  • A new exhibit titled “A Nation Divided - The American Civil War” will be on view now through Sept. 28 at the Miners Hall Museum, Franklin.
    Featured are weapons, personal items and photos, as well as information about Civil War military units that were active in Crawford and Cherokee Counties.
    Museum hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission is free.
    The exhibit has been organized by Joseph Maghe, who now lives in the rural Galena area but grew up across the street from the museum site.
    “I developed a love for the American Civil War at about age 10, then life got in the way,” he said. “I began researching and collecting with a passion about 28 years ago.”
    He’s a member of the Border Wars Collectors, a group of about 10 people who share a common passion for the American Civil War and collecting artifacts and doing historical research.
    Maghe said that this part of southeast Kansas has a rather unique Civil War history.
    “You have the Indian regiments formed in Fort Scott and two Colored Regiments formed in Fort Scott, along with Quantrill’s Raiders, which included the James Brothers and the Younger Brothers who became famous outlaws after the Civil War,” he said. “There weren’t so many troops involved, but there were some very notable situation."
    The largest action in the Crawford-Cherokee County area, Maghe said, occurred on Oct. 6, 1863, when Quantrill and his men attacked Fort Blair, also known as Fort Baxter, at Baxter Springs, and encountered a Union detachment escorting Maj. Gen. James G. Blunt, who was moving his command headquarters from Fort Scott to Fort Smith, Ark.
    “The casualties at the fort were very few, around six or so, but 92 or 93 in the wagon train heading south,” Maghe said. “Many of these men were shot after they had already surrendered. We’ve never determined just how many men Quantrill lost because he did not keep official reports, but probably less than five.”
    He added that, because of these lop-sided figures and the fact that many of the Union soldiers were killed after surrendering, the Baxter Springs battle is often referred to as a massacre.
    The exhibit includes reproductions of some area men who served during the Civil War, but Maghe said that the artifacts are not directly linked to any of them.
    “The weapons here are what would have been carried by those in Quantrill’s Raiders, the Third Wisconsin Cavalry, 14th Kansas Cavalry, Sixth Kansas Cavalry, Second Kansas Colored Infantry and the Indian Home Guard,” he said. “We have tried to keep the exhibit relevant to those who would have served in Crawford and Cherokee County.”
    There are binders filled with information on those units and the men who served in them, available for anyone wishing to do a little on-the-spot research.
    Page 2 of 2 - Camp and personal items are also included, including toiletries such as shaving equipment and a toothbrush, cups and plates, playing cards and dominoes, a rosary and a pocket saint, a drum and medical items.
    “Every year things turn up in attics that have been in somebody’s family for years,” Maghe said. “Every year some of these things are discarded and lost to history because the family doesn’t want them.”
    He noted that those find historical items would be wise to check them out before throwing them in the trash. Some have monetary as well as historical value.
    Maghe is taken by the human aspect of the Civil War, and how families were often on different sides of the conflict.
    “There are many instances of brother against brother, for a father fighting his son,” he said. “You would think it would be like a needle in a haystack, but it’s amazing how often their paths would cross.”
    The Civil War was America’s bloodiest conflict to date, and a time of great suffering for many.
    “Some soldiers served in a garrison in relative comfort, while others didn’t know where their next meal was coming from or if they would sleep under a shelter that night,” Maghe said. “So many people sacrificed so much to get us where we are today, and this exhibit is a way of praising them and telling their story.”

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