This year's Vespers Service will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, at the Battle of Carthage State Historic site, located at 111 W. Chestnut, just east of Carter Park.

For the past 29 years, residents of Carthage have paused every July 5 to remember the soldiers who fought and died, some on the streets around the Carthage Square, in the Battle of Carthage.
This year's Vespers Service will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, at the Battle of Carthage State Historic site, located at 111 W. Chestnut, just east of Carter Park.
Immediately after the service, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources will hold a public meeting to talk about the park and hear public opinion and requests about the park in Carthage and another site in Vernon County.

Steve Cottrell, Carthage historian and author who has written books on the Battle, said the Vespers Service was a tradition started by the late Jasper County Historian Marvin VanGilder, and continued since his death in 2010.
The service features a color guard in period dress for both the Union and State Guard side.
Cottrell will then talk about the battle, its impact on the community and the men who fought in it, and the importance of the Battle of Carthage State Historic Site.
VanGilder, Cottrell and other Carthage residents, pushed hard to get the Battle of Carthage site designated a historic park by the state in the 1980s.
Cottrell said VanGuilder hosted the first Vespers Service on July 5, 1989 in the park, a year after the park received State Historic Site status.

Public meeting
Beth Bazal, Park Historic Site Specialist who oversees the Battle of Carthage site, said a public meeting to discuss recent and planned improvements at the Carthage park and the Osage Village State Historic Site, located in Vernon County northeast of Nevada, will be held immediately after the Vespers Service.
The meeting is set up to give the public a chance to comment on the parks and the state's plans for the area.
Bazal and other State Historic Sites staff will be on hand at the meeting to answer questions and take any information the public wants to provide.
Bazal said the state installed new information panels in the kiosk at the Carthage park last fall and has made other improvements to the area.
She said she'll talk about plans to try to rid the park of invasive plant species.

The battle
On July 5, 1861, 1,100 Union soldiers and about 6,000 Missouri State Guard soldiers battled for control of Carthage, then a town of about 500 people living in homes concentrated around a two-story brick courthouse that stood where current iconic Jasper County Courthouse stands today.
The Battle of Carthage lasted much of the day.
Union soldiers under Col. Franz Sigel arrived in Carthage the night of July 4, 1861, and camped around the spring at the current Battle of Carthage State Historic Site and Carter Park.
At that time, the area was prairie grassland, without the trees and railroad tracks on the landscape today.
Gov. Claiborne Fox Jackson's Missouri State Guard camped in Lamar that same night. Soldiers on both sides encountered each other the day before the battle, so both commanders knew the other was close.
The Missouri State Guard was fleeing a larger Union Army, headed by Gen. Nathanial Lyon, which had forced them from the state capital, Jefferson City.
Sigel's men woke early on July 5 and started marching north. They arrived near the current intersection of Baseline Road and Civil War Road to find arrayed against them on the hill, 6,000 State Guard troops, about 2,000 of which were unarmed.
Sigel's men formed a line and held off the State Guard, allowing their supply wagons to retreat. For the rest of the day, Siegel's troops fought a running battle with the State Guard soldiers, covering their supply wagons as they crossed the creeks and Spring River heading back to Carthage.
By sunset, the troops were battling their way across the Carthage Square. The final shots were fired near their campsite from the morning as the sun went down.
State Guard troops set up camp in that same area while Sigel's men marched all night, finally resting briefly at Sarcoxie before continuing to Mount Vernon, then to Springfield.