The Battle of The Blue

The Battle of The Blue
Rebel forces charge the Topeka Battery at Mockbee farm, original painting by Benjamin Mileham

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Dead of the 2nd Kansas Militia Return Home

   The days following the Battles of Mockbee Farm and Westport were extremely trying ones for Colonel George Veale.  As commander of the 2nd KSM he felt personally responsible for the men of his Regiment - especially the ones who had died, been injured and taken prisoner.   His sense of duty towards his men made it imperative that he do all in his power to ensure that those who had died at Mockbee Farm have a decent burial.
    Colonel Veale's first task was to locate the exact burial location of his men.  In the aftermath of the battle of Wesport, the wounded men (Union and Confederate) were gathered from the field; the dead from both sides however became the problem of the local citizenry. After ensuring that everything possible was being done for the wounded men of his Regiment, Colonel Veale returned to the Battlefield at Mockbee Farm on the 24th of October to find the temporary burial location of his men killed on the 22nd.  He found that some had been buried on the field near the battlesite and others had been buried in a trench near Westport.  With the help of local citizens, medical personnel and some of his own men, Colonel Veale arranged the disinterment of his men and removal to the Huron Cemetery in Wyandotte, Kansas on October 25th as he felt it was proper for the men to be buried in Kansas soil.  Colonel Veale obtained coffins for his men here as well.  A few of those killed from the 2nd KSM were located and removed by their own family members; it is unknown whether any men from the 2nd remain buried near the battle site.
  In early December 1864 it had become certain that Kansas was now safe from the threat of invasion by the Confederates.  The wounded and prisoners from the 2nd KSM had returned to their homes and the process of healing had begun.  Colonel George Veale decided it would be fitting if the men from his Regiment who had been buried at the Huron Cemetery be disinterred and brought home to Shawnee County.  He contacted Franklin Crane, (a friend of his from Topeka who had established the Topeka Cemetery a few years earlier) with the thought of setting aside a special plot for those who gave their lives at the Battle of the Blue.  The two men struck a deal and arrangements were made for the fifteen coffins to be brought to Topeka on December 10th, where they would find their third and final resting place.

                                          The 100 Block of Kansas Ave. in the mid 1860s
courtesy of the Kansas State Historical Society,copy and re-use restrictions apply
    The dark cold day matched the mood of the citizens of Topeka as the first of the wagons coming up Kansas Avenue rolled into view.  The scene was remembered years later by Louis Laurent, who had been a boy at the time: "At that time the butcher of the city was Dan Handley. He went to the front with the Militia and was killed at the Battle of the Blue. He left a family of several girls. His residence was about two blocks east of Kansas Avenue on First street. I remember distinctly when his body reached Topeka. I can see it yet, in a pine box and the blood stains on the bottom of the box.”
  The plots set aside for these fallen men had been arranged at the Topeka Cemetery in the shape of a square.  A large crowd gathered here to pay their respects and in their own way thank the ones who had given their lives so that Topeka and all of Kansas could remain free.
  The worn tombstones of the fifteen remain still, off to the side in the form of a square. I hope their names are never forgotten:  Harvey G.Young, James P. Alverson, McClure Martin, David Rake, Nicholas Brown, Samuel Allen, Georg Ginnold, Robert McNown, Charles H. Budd, Albert Chapman, Lear Selkin, Hiram C. Coville, Robert Boles, Daniel Handley and William C. Roberts.

                                                   photo courtesy od - copy and re-use restrictions apply

No comments:

Post a Comment