KANSAS CITY, Mo. - If you think of the Battle of Westport was that time you got into a fight with your date in front of a bar, there is a local organization who would like to set the record straight.
Dan Smith seems to be able to hear the guns from the Civil War Battle that raged across our area in 1864. And he's fought a decades-long battle to make sure the rest of Kansas City hears them, too.
"The Battle of Westport is ranked as one of the top 25 sites by the National Park Service," Smith said.
He is Chairman of the Board of the Monnett Battle of Westport Fund, Inc.
The half mile of open ground between a rocky outcrop and Byram's Ford on the Little Blue River saw battle as bloody and contentious as anything Ken Burns has ever shown.
The Battle of Westport was important.
"This was the biggest Civil War battle West of the Mississippi, which makes this site significant," said Stephen Abbott, Park Planner with the Kansas City Parks and Recreation department.
And the Battle of Byram’s Ford was just a part of it.
But this battlefield is unique because rather than facing increasing development, the industrial area around it is declining which is good luck for those that want to restore things to what they looked like that cold October of 1864.
"It had snowed while they were fighting over east of Independence," Smith described as he tramped the woods between the ford of the river and the open area that was so exposed to fire from the rocky rise.
"We launched, in 2006, our 'Saving Kansas City's Battlefield' initiative, which has the objective of removing the warehouses and modern structures that currently stand on the meadow of the Byram’s Ford Battlefield," he said.
They hope to restore it in time for a re-enactment two years from now on the 150th anniversary of the battle.
So the world will long remember the struggle that consecrated this ground so long ago.
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