Cannon demonstration, proclamations mark start of local Civil War commemoration

Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Chase Thompson held the position of "the worm" on the air cannon crew at the 150th Battle of Marshall Commemoration Kickoff on Saturday, Nov. 10. The worm was responsible for loading the powder and cannon ball, and helping to clean the cannon after it had been fired. (Kelsey Alumbaugh/Democrat-News)

A beautiful, yet windy, fall day was welcomed as The Battle of Marshall 150th Anniversary Commemoration Kickoff started on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012.

Marshall Cultural Council President Eric Crump began the ceremony by greeting the audience and giving a brief history of the battle.

"The anniversary of the battle is almost a year away, but we chose to start the run-up now," Crump said.

(From left) Gerald and Connie Cunningham and Chuck Holland dress in Civil War period attire at the 150th Battle of Marshall Commemoration Kickoff on Saturday, Nov. 10. (Kelsey Alumbaugh/Democrat-News)

Crump mentioned once hearing a long-time Saline County resident say he had never heard the local history of the Civil War until a lecture by Michael Dickey in Arrow Rock a couple years ago.

"It occurred to me then, and it occurred to all of us who have been involved in this, that we need to work hard to educate ourselves, educate the whole community about our history," he said.

MCC has partnered with a number of organizations and local governments to create a solution to that problem.

"We've developed a monthly series of events, activities, lectures ..." Crump said. "We'll look at the life of Saline Countians then through, not just looking at the battle in detail, but also looking at music, food, clothing, stories, characters who were here and try to get a good idea of who we were then and how it relates to who we are now."

Proclamations were given by Mayor Mark Gooden, Presiding Commissioner Tom Stallings, state Rep. Joe Aull and state Sen. Bill Stouffer.

"We need to know about our history ..." Gooden said as he began his proclamation. "I think it's good to know where we are from."

Stallings began by thanking the organizations involved in planning the commemoration.

"I grew up in Saline County," Stallings said. "Went to school in Saline County. Lived in Saline County all but three years of my life, and I know almost nothing about the Battle of Marshall."

"I think it's very fitting that we have this celebration on Veteran's Day, the day before Veteran's Day ..." Aull contributed. "It's nice to take time to honor (the Civil War veterans)."

Aull mentioned that when people think of Veteran's Day, they often think from World War I and on, but the Civil War soldiers fought for our country as well.

"I think it's important to congratulate the organizations involved in this," Stouffer said.

Bill Westbook gave a brief speech about Mathew Brady, the father of photojournalism, and offered to talk with anyone willing to listen. Westbrook noted the importance of the history and mentioned the upcoming events.

Cynthia Nold told the audience she is working to create a "Museum in a Box" to check out to schools in Saline County to teach the children about the Battle of Marshall so that there will not be another generation to grow up not knowing about the county's history.

Connie Grisier made note of an absent artillery unit, but introduced Chris Fritsche with the Missouri State Museum, who was available to teach children and adults how to fire a cannon "because that's a skill everyone needs."

When the speakers drew to a close, kids lined up to learn the different roles for firing a Civil War replica air cannon.

Historian James Denny began his presentation around 11 a.m. on the lead-up to the Battle of Marshall and a history of Confederate Gen. Joseph Shelby.

The steering committee for the 150th Battle of Marshall Commemoration includes historian Marvin Whilhite; Jeff Stubblefield; Gerald and Connie Cunningham; Bill Westbrook; Richard Clemens; Connie Grisier; Chris Nelson; Terri Kindred; Chuck Holland; Brad Harriman; Kathy and Bill Green; Kim Duncan; Cynthia Nold; Denver Long; and Greg, Martha and Courtney Holland.

The next Battle of Marshall Second Saturday event will be at 1 p.m. Dec. 8 in Wood & Huston Community Room. Virginia Laas will speak about women's experiences during the guerrilla warfare that occurred throughout much of western Missouri.

Contact Kelsey Alumbaugh at

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Marshall plans year-long anniversary commemoration of Civil War battle
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