Destruction at Mine Creek

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Price’s raid on Missouri and Kansas, KHC is featuring excerpts from “Price’s March of 1864” Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater script. The Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater project is a partnership between KHC and the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.                                                                                                  

Brig. Gen. Samuel W. Crawford

Brig. Gen. Samuel W. Crawford. Photo courtesy of: Library of Congress.

READER 2: [T]he sound came…from the east in the Mound City direction…At first faintly, gently, not unmusically, vibrating on the warm hazy air.  We had never heard it before, but we recognized it instantly…And hour after hour that gentle booming went on, and we stood near the house-door listening.  I suppose every woman and every child within the sound of the guns also stood listening that day.  The firing of cannon was new to us.  None of us had ever heard it before, and we had not got hardened to it…

Adela Orpen, Mound City, Kansas.

READER 4: In front of a log cabin stood an old woman, with several children clinging to her skirts, fearless of the leaden shower which ceaselessly pattered against the cabin wall…[T]he old lady shouted, while we whirled past, “God bless you, boys!  Hurrah for the Union!  Hurrah for Kansas!  Give it to ‘em!”  The sight was inspiring.  The blessing came like a draught of wine, and with a wild shout the troops cleared the fence, swept over the prairie beyond, and attacked the disordered rebels as they emerged from the timber, capturing a Major and a number of men.

Captain Richard Hinton, Kansas, Army of the Border.

READER 5: Steadily the gallant Union soldiers cut their way through the red glare and over a wall of guns and batteries of artillery, until the shouts of victory were heard over and above the din of battle.  Slowly the enemy’s lines melted away, and one by one their Generals, Colonels, and battalions laid down their arms and passed to the rear as prisoners of war…Within thirty minutes after his lines were broken, Marmaduke and the flower of his division were prisoners, and the remainder of his troops were fleeing as though they expected the devil to take the hindmost.  They threw away their guns and fell over each other while crossing Mine Creek.

Colonel Samuel Crawford, Union army.

READER 1: Price’s army passed a little east of Mound City, where Blunt’s regiment opened on them a severe fire.  They fled precipitately, leaving many of their dead on the field.  I have been told that Price had printed on his wagon covers, in large letters, “Coming to stay.”  After the battle, someone, in passing over the battle field, found a dead rebel soldier with a paper pinned on his shoulder, which read, “I have come to stay.”

Reverend James Shaw, Kansas militia.

READER 3: Day and night, the retreat was continued until the evening of the 25th, when my division, marching leisurely in front of the train, was ordered hastily to the rear to protect it, while flying rumors came up constantly that Marmaduke and Cabell were captured, with all their artillery…I soon met beyond the Osage River the advancing Federals, flushed with success and clamorous for more victims.  I knew from the beginning that I could do nothing but resist their advance, delay them as much as possible, and depend on their energy and night for the rest.

The first stand was made one mile north of the Osage River, where the enemy was worsted; again upon the riverbank, and again I got away in good condition.  Then taking position on a high hill one mile south of the river, I halted for a desperate struggle…The fight lasted nearly an hour, but I was at last forced to fall back.  Pressed furiously, and having to cross a deep and treacherous stream, I did not offer battle again until gaining a large hill in front of the entire army, formed in line of battle…

Joseph Shelby, Confederate Brigadier-General.

READER 2: Shelby, by all odds, was the skillful general of Price’s army, and his division was the last of the bold raiders who flaunted the flag of defiance as they rode into Missouri; who routed General Ewing at Pilot Knob, baffled Rosecrans at St. Louis, drove the Federals into their entrenchments at Jefferson City, and frightened Curtis at Kansas City.

At the Little Osage, Shelby with his war-scarred veterans was brought to the rear as a forlorn hope.  He formed on the undulating ground a mile north of the Osage in the edge of the timber, and awaited the coming of [Union forces].  He had not long to wait.  With a whirl McNeil’s brigade went into line and then steadily moved forward until the lines locked in the embrace of victory or death.

After a most terrific struggle, Shelby’s line began to waver…[O]ne of McNeil’s regiments in my immediate front made a sudden dash, instantly followed by the other regiments with their commander roaring like a lion.  For a few minutes the men of the two contending forces wielded their weapons without fear, favor, or affection.

Colonel Samuel Crawford, Union army.

READER 3: It was a fearful hour.  The long and weary days of marching and fighting were culminating, and the narrow issue of life or death stood out all dark and barren as a rainy sea.  The fight was to be made now, and General Price, with the pilot’s wary eye, saw the storm-cloud sweep down, growing larger and larger and darker and darker.

They came upon me steadily and calm.  I waited until they came close enough and gave them volley for volley, shot for shot.  For fifteen minutes both lines stood the pelting of the leaden hail without flinching, and the incessant roar of musketry rang out wildly and shrill, all separate sounds blending in a universal crash.  The fate of the army hung upon the result, and our very existence tottered and tossed in the smoke of the strife.  The red sun looked down upon the scene, and the redder clouds floated away with angry sullen glare.  Slowly, slowly my old brigade was melting away.

Joseph Shelby, Confederate Brigadier-General.

READER 4: It was a square stand-up-and-knock-down fight.  But finally, Shelby’s men, as they had done at the engagement north of the river, reeled and staggered to the rear, leaving their wounded and two pieces of artillery on the field.

Colonel Samuel Crawford, Union army.

READER 5: After the battle and the frenzied efforts to kill men, came the more leisurely efforts to heal them.  The wounded began to arrive in Mound City, where they were received in private houses, in vacant cattle-sheds, or wherever they could be sheltered form rain and weather.  There were no hospitals, no surgeons…A “Secesh Raid” was a hurried operation, where fighting and burning men only were wanted.  The disabled could be left behind to fulfill their mournful destiny.

Feeling ran very high, and was very bitter among the civil population.  People, young and old, wanted to kill the raiders who had frightened them so dreadfully.  It was not easy to stem the flood of hatred all in a moment, and become once again a kind and Christian fellow human being.  Horrid acts of vengeance were perpetrated by ordinarily decent men.  One case occurred in the presence of one of our workmen who was appointed to go out and collect the wounded.  They were coming in with a load which consisted of rebel wounded.  One unhappy man, probably in delirium, suddenly raised his arm, and, taking off his cap, feebly waved it aloft and cried — “Hurrah for Jefferson Davis!”  “You’ll not say that again,” exclaimed the driver savagely, as, drawing his pistol from the holster, he shot the wounded man through the head.  Nobody seemed much shocked.  People only remarked that enemy wounded had better be quiet or they would not get many to help them.

Adela Orpen, Mound City, Kansas.

How long will it take communities like Mound City to recover from the brutal destruction of October 25th? Read tomorrow’s blog post to learn about the aftermath of the Battle of Mine Creek.

National Arts & Humanities Month: Week 5

HARVESTOctober is National Arts & Humanities Month. Gather ideas and insights with humanities events supported by the Kansas Humanities Council each week this month.

A Fist Bump for the Humanities


Click on the image to watch Richard Brodhead’s interview on The Colbert Report (5:41)

In August, the humanities joined the ranks of politicians, actors, and musicians by receiving the Colbert Bump from Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report. Richard Brodhead, president of Duke University and co-chair of the Commission on the Humanities & Social Sciences, was on the program to talk about The Heart of the Matter, the Commission’s report on the role of the humanities in creating a “more civil public discourse, a more adaptable and creative workforce, and a more secure nation.” Click here or on the above image to watch the six-minute clip and see how Brodhead, a 19th-century American literature scholar, responds to Colbert’s question, “Is Moby Dick a metaphor for the struggle of trying to read Moby Dick?”

Give KHC a Fist Bump

Support the humanities in Kansas with a gift to the Kansas Humanities Council. Your tax-deductible donation to KHC expands the reach of the humanities in Kansas through innovative and engaging programs in communities across the state, including Speakers Bureau, the Poet Laureate of Kansas, and the upcoming Hometown Teams Smithsonian exhibition tour. Click here to donate safely and securely through the Network for Good giving site.


National Arts & Humanities Month Week 4

HARVESTOctober is National Arts & Humanities Month. Gather ideas and insights with humanities events supported by the Kansas Humanities Council each week this month.

Week 4: Say Hello to History

Welsh immigrant Richard Howe, a stonemason, put his skills to use constructing a limestone home in Lyon County in 1867. The house served as a gathering place for the Welsh immigrant community and was home to three generations of the Howe family. Nearly 150 years later, the Howe House and Welsh Farmstead offers visitors a glimpse into 19th-century Kansas farm life as part of the Lyon County Historical Society in Emporia. The Howe House is doing what Kansas museums and historic sites do everyday: bring history to life. This month, Kansas museums are hosting a number of KHC-supported exhibitions and programs that connect people over time and across generations, including the A Welsh Farmstead: The Story of the Howe Family from 1858 exhibition and companion documentary at the Lyon County Historical Museum. Watch the two-minute trailer for the documentary film to learn more about the history of the Howe House:

Explore a museum or historic site in your community. View exhibitions, attend a Speakers Bureau presentation, research your genealogy, donate an artifact, or volunteer. Not sure where to go? has a list of museums and historical attractions throughout the state.

Getting to Know You: Lon Frahm

In honor of National Arts and Humanities Month, KHC is featuring profiles and essays by people who make the humanities happen in Kansas. This week, we’ll get to know Lon Frahm of Colby, KHC board member and Friend of the Humanities since 1986. 


Lon Frahm.
Photo courtesy of Top Producer.

Lon Frahm is the manager of Frahm Farms and the sixth generation of his family to farm in Thomas County. In 2009, Lon was named Top Producer of the Year by Farm Journal magazine, a national honor awarded to agricultural producers who possess entrepreneurial innovation, business success, and industry and community leadership. “I remember Lon describing his work to me in three simple words: sowing and reaping,” remarked Julie Mulvihill, KHC’s executive director. “I think this is also reflected in how he approaches community service: We sow and we reap. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.”

“I grew up hearing my grandmother often repeat one of her favorite sayings: ‘Service is the rent we pay for the space we occupy on earth.’ I find myself living out her ideals more every day,” shared Lon. In addition to serving on the Kansas Humanities Council Board of Directors, Lon serves on state and regional boards including the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas, Midwest Energy, High Plains Public Radio, and he is a convener for the Kansas Dialogue. Frahm Farm employees also contribute at the community level. “We often assist at community events, volunteer at the Prairie Museum, and are involved in service club activities,” added Lon.

Education, culture, and sense of place play a big role in Lon’s life and work. “I’ve always considered education to be one of the highest and best uses of time and resources, something that was instilled in me by my parents and grandparents,” explained Lon. “It has been a policy that everyone on the farm participate in all the educational and informational field days, seminars, tours, and field trips that are available to us.”

The employee field trips extend to annual farm trips to destination including Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean. “I like giving people opportunities to experience new things. I try to work in cultural events when possible – we’ve been to museums, the symphony, and theater,” shared Lon, who is an accomplished pianist, tenor soloist, and High Plains history enthusiast. “I believe a wider view of the world gives us a broader vision and makes us more connected at the same time and that’s why the humanities are so important. They help us make sense of the wider world; yet respect our sense of place. I support KHC – and I’ve done so for many years – because I think these things are important for Kansans and KHC does a great job of engaging communities with these topics.”

Do you agree with Lon? Consider a donation in support of the Kansas Humanities Council.  

National Arts & Humanities Month Week 3


October is National Arts & Humanities Month. Gather ideas and insights with humanities events supported by the Kansas Humanities Council each week this month.

Week 3: Save a Story

Think you don’t have a story to tell? Think again. The Kinsley Library staff believes that everyone has a story to tell. To that end, the library staff has preserved and shared dozens of local oral histories from World War II veterans and children of the Great Depression to postwar community leaders and participants in the 1979 Tractorcade to Washington, D.C. What remains is a priceless audio archive of life in rural Kansas in the 20th century. These projects were supported by the KHC Heritage Grant program. Watch the KHC 5-Minute film about Kinsley’s oral history projects and click here to browse their oral histories.

Ready to save a story? Record an oral history with a relative, neighbor, or community member. Not sure what to ask? StoryCorps’ National Day of Listening website has a number of resources to help you conduct and share your story. Want to take on a community oral history project? Click here to learn more about KHC Heritage Grants.

Getting to Know You: John Edgar Tidwell

In honor of National Arts and Humanities Month, KHC is featuring profiles and essays by people who make the humanities happen in Kansas. This week, we’ll get to know John Edgar Tidwell of Lawrence, a longtime KHC Speakers Bureau and Talk About Literature in Kansas (TALK) scholar. Tidwell is a professor of English at the University of Kansas where his research specialties are African American and American literatures. He has edited seven books, including the memoirs, collected poems, and selected journalism of Kansas-born writer Frank Marshall Davis. His current Speakers Bureau topic, “Creativity As Art and Labor,” explores the work of Davis and fellow Kansas authors Langston Hughes and Gordon Parks. “Edgar’s small town upbringing led him to the humanities early on,” observed Julie Mulvihill, KHC executive director. “Now his scholarship and community engagement as a KHC discussion leader takes his early humanities education to the next level.”

John Edgar Tidwell

John Edgar Tidwell

Tidwell: My humanities training began in Independence, a somnolent little town nestled between two rivers in southeast Kansas. Mrs. Esther Teal, driving her 1955 dark green Chevy, would dutifully pick us young children up and carry us to Maple Street Baptist Church to rehearse our “pieces” or little speeches for Christmas, Easter, and other holidays. In between those opportunities to learn self-confidence by presenting ourselves before a church filled with appreciative members, Mom would recite poems by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, especially his “Little Brown Baby.” When our uncle, E.W. Collins, came, we were treated to a marvelous performance as they took turns reciting long passages of Dunbar’s melodic verse, which they had memorized more than thirty years earlier in a country school near Boynton, Oklahoma. Little did I know that their eloquence was instilling in me an understanding of the nature of humanities, in a process even more profound because the setting was not typically known for having such a shaping influence.

As I travel about the state for KHC, making presentations via the TALK program or Speakers Bureau, I am often reminded of my own inauspicious beginnings. I now see that perhaps I’m reenacting the devotion of those instructors who patiently instilled in me an enduring love of the humanities. Many of my discussions focus on the experiences of African Americans as expressed in a body of literature often unknown to participants. Such works can have their challenges. How do I avoid the potential for simple political or sociological analyses and strive instead for the far more fruitful inquiry into the humanity of a people? For instance, while the narrator in Gordon Parks’s The Learning Tree describes Cherokee Flats (modeled on Fort Scott) as “a land of uncertainty,” my charge is to present the participants with ways of seeing how the novel’s experiences are both distinctive and general. In other words, they are racially-specific at the same time they are revelations of the human condition.

Therein lies the hope for a successful presentation. If participants can see the possibilities of a cross-cultural exchange, then they are able to perceive how their own lives are revealed in the work being considered. What follows is the sine qua non of the discussion: its incentive for participants to engage in a rigorous self-examination. Armed with this new self-knowledge, participants can better situate themselves in the wider world. In doing so, the boundaries that separate people slowly dissolve and give way to a more profound, collective understanding of us as human beings – which I take to be the quintessential definition of humanities.

Do the humanities give meaning to your life? Support the humanities in Kansas with a donation to the Kansas Humanities Council.


National Arts & Humanities Month, Week 2

HARVESTOctober is National Arts & Humanities Month. Gather ideas and insights with humanities events supported by the Kansas Humanities Council each week this month.

Week 2: Neighborhood Nooks

Libraries offer engaging programs and access to endless amounts of knowledge and adventure through books. This month alone, 31 Kansas public libraries are hosting KHC TALK book discussions, Speakers Bureau presentations, and Poet Laureate of Kansas events. But, what about communities without a public library? Since 2009, the Little Free Library organization has been working to provide access to literacy, build community, and engage neighbors in towns around the globe through small micro libraries on front lawns, sidewalks, boat docks, and other community spaces. Watch the two-minute video to see Little Free Libraries in action. By the way, there are already at least 20 Little Free Libraries in Kansas.

Visit your local public library: check out a book or movie, attend an event, or sign up for your library card. You can also use this map to find a Little Free Library in your community and encourage your neighbors to stop by. Interested in bringing a Little Free Library to your neighborhood? Click here to find out how.




National Arts & Humanities Month

HARVESTOctober is National Arts & Humanities Month. Gather ideas and insights with humanities events supported by the Kansas Humanities Council each week this month.

Week 1: Watch and Share

Does song have the power to change lives? The documentary film Conducting Hope profiles the Lansing Correctional Facility’s East Hill Singers, the only prison choir in the nation to perform outside the prison walls. Produced by Margie Friedman and Arts in Prison, Inc., with the support of a KHC Humanities GrantConducting Hope premieres at the Kansas International Film Festival in Overland Park on October 5th. Click here for details.

What’s your community’s inspiring story? Use your smart phone to make a short film about your community, upload it to YouTube or Vimeo and share the link with KHC at info(at) View the films in KHC’s Short Films Gallery for inspiration.