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The Carthage Press
  • Carthaginians gather to remember local Civil War battle anniversary

  • Two views of freedom clashed on a battlefield that included Carthage on July 5, 1861, but out of that clash of views, a great republic was reborn, and it takes work to preserve that republic.
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  • Two views of freedom clashed on a battlefield that included Carthage on July 5, 1861, but out of that clash of views, a great republic was reborn, and it takes work to preserve that republic.
    That was the message from Dave Roggensees, the first-year Natural Resources Administrator over the Battle of Carthage State Historic Site, as he spoke on Saturday at the 153rd anniversary rememberance of that local Civil War battle.
    "This is the great republic," Roggensees said. "This is the land of the free and the home of the brave, but it's only the land of the free because of the brave. We're here on this battlefield today remembering those men. Remembering everyone who turned their sons and their husbands out of their home and waved as they went away to battle and gave them hugs and tears as they parted."
    The Battle of Carthage, July 5, 1861, pitted 1,100 Union volunteers, mostly German immigrants from St. Louis, under Col. Franz Sigel, against 6,000 Missouri State Guard troops under Gov. Claiborne Fox Jackson.
    The State Guard was fleeing from a larger Union Force under Gen. Nathaniel Lyon, but Lyon's army had been delayed in Booneville, leaving Sigel's outnumbered force to face the State Guard alone.
    The Battle of Carthage State Historic Site is set up at the spot where Sigel's troops camped the night before the battle. They rose early and marched north along what is now Civil War Road to what is now Baseline Road where they encountered the State Guard lined up in battle formation.
    Sigel realized his force was outnumbered, even though only 4,000 of the State Guard troops were armed with muskets, shotguns or rifles, and conducted a fighting retreat back down what is now Civil War Road that lasted the entire day.
    Approximately 50 men were killed and 150 were wounded on both sides as the soldiers fought their way through Carthage, across the Square and back to that spot where Union soldiers camped the night before.
    At that point night fell and the final shots were fired. The State Guard troops bedded down for the night in that same campground, while Sigel's force kept marching to Sarcoxie, then to Mount Vernon.
    Roggensees said the Battle of Carthage State Historic Site is not only a picturesque park, but it is also a place to "come in contact with the mystic courts of memory."
    "We have this as a resource, the Battle of Carthage State Historic Site," Roggensees said. "It's a beautiful place, it's a place where people can come out and be a part of nature in the middle of the lovely city of Carthage. It's a place where you can come and have a picnic lunch, you can take a walk and it's a quiet place where you can almost sit down and imagine what happened, read of the battle, read of the Civil War, and maybe hear the echoes of the past here."
    Page 2 of 2 - Author and Historian Steve Cottrell spoke about some of the improvements that have been made recently to the park, and some of the planned improvements as he introduced Roggensees.
    The ceremony also included a living history camp, made up of a canvas tent similar to one used by the soldiers to camp there in 1861, and reenactors who marched in a color guard and fired a musket volley in honor of the soldiers who fought here.
    Roggensees paid tribute to the efforts of the late Marvin VanGilder, former editor of The Carthage Press and historian who pushed for the creation of the Battle of Carthage State Historic Site.
    "And we've been doing this here for years," Roggensees said. "Mr. VanGilder and all those who worked to preserve this battlefield, Sen. (Richard) Webster, with his efforts, all those steps toward preserving this memory, this is the memory for here in Missouri."
    Roggensees said the Historic Site is about remembering the past, but it's also dedicated to the hope of tomorrow.
    "That's why we're here," he said. "Abraham Lincoln summed it up whether you are from the Missouri State Guard's side, or whether you are a Yankee Dutchman. A Union or Confederate, freedom is what they struggled for, freedom is why we're here, because we believe in freedom. We're Americans."

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