Boggs Unleashed

The Civil War Turns 150

What does the American West have to do with that?

What does the American West have to do with that?

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The Civil War and the American West are forever connected.

The Battle of Glorieta Pass occurred in March 1862, but folks re-enact it every May at El Rancho de las Golondrinas in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

It’s too cold to have that re-enactment in March, they tell me.

Oh, really. Well, here I am in May, freezing my butt off, waiting for the battle to begin. Every now and then, I taste snowflakes on my tongue. At least I could...if my lips weren’t frozen.

Maybe they should consider holding the Glorieta re-enactment in September. That’s when the John Brown Museum re-creates the Battle of Osawatomie of August 1856. Well, here I am, in mid-September, broiling in triple-digit Kansas heat, waiting for the battle to begin.

Why am I torturing myself? What does the American West have to do with the Civil War, which began—some say—150 years ago?

Everything. “It began here,” Judy Billings says. And she means before 1861. Billings, of Lawrence, Kansas, is touting Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, which encompasses 29 counties in Kansas and 12 in Missouri. This Kansas-Missouri collaboration—that’s right, Jayhawkers...

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