Larry James, president of the Newtonia Battlefields Protection Association (NBPA), presented a PowerPoint presentation during the Thursday, Feb. 28 meeting of the association at the Newtonia Community Center.
NEWTONIA — Larry James, president of the Newtonia Battlefields Protection Association (NBPA), presented a PowerPoint presentation during the Thursday, Feb. 28 meeting of the association at the Newtonia Community Center.
The event, which began with a potluck dinner, moved into a business meeting, followed by James' presentation.
Between 20-25 people attended the event.
"I have done these for about six years now," he said. "I continue taking slides of all of the activities that we do each year. We had a lot of highlights (in 2012) with the sequential and Ed Bearss being here twice was a real big highlight this year. The first time was a pretty big deal, the second time was not as much, and they were in more of a hurry."
Bearss, 90, who is from the east coast, is one of America's most popular and knowledgeable historians, made the trek to Newtonia late last year, leading historian buffs around Newtonia, looking at the Ritchey Family Cemetery and the Ritchey Mansion. It had been two years since the historian had been in Newtonia. At that time, he was making a documentary and the film crew was in Newtonia filming Bearss' version of the battles at Newtonia. The film crew took him to many battlefields across the country and filmed him telling the story of the battles. The film included not only Civil War battles, but battles from several wars.
During the Civil War, Newtonia saw two battles. The first battle occurred on Sept. 30 1862 and saw an unprecedented number of Native American units fight on both sides. The second battle on Oct. 28, 1864 was the last one fought in Missouri, a state that had more Civil War clashes than any other beside Virginia and Tennessee. Approximately 350 soldiers were either killed or wounded in 1862, and 650 casualties were reported in the 1864 battle.
Another big event, which occurred last year in Newtonia, was the annual fall festival, which also included events marking the 150th anniversary of the first battle.
During last year's fall festival and sequential, spectators could see an actual cannon being fired a number of times. They could also see re-enactors in encampment, along with doing military drills and dressed up in authentic Civil War soldiers' uniforms. There was also a Civil War field hospital, historical books for sale and other items.
James was pleased with the event.
"Last year, we had more than 2,000 people here at the fall festival, that was a really big thing and we are hoping that next year that we will have that or more," James said.
Plans are currently under way for the second battle sequential battle of Newtonia.
"We are going to have two events in 2014, the fall event in September will be very similar to what we did this year," he said. "Probably a few change to take place. Then we will also do one in October on the actual date of the battle. And we are working on the ideas for that right now."
NBPA meets on the fourth Thursday of the month – February through October, at the Newtonia Community Center. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. with a potluck dinner, followed by a program. On March 28, the program will consist of a slide show of Stark City and Ritchey.
For more than a decade, the NBPA has led efforts to preserve the venue. The NBPA purchased 11 acres and the two-story Ritchey Mansion, which served as both a headquarters and a working hospital during both battles. With the 11 acres, an additional eight acres donated by the Weems family and five acres of the Old Civil War Cemetery deeded to the NBPA, giving a total of 24 acres. Today, they manage a total of 26 acres.
Each year, visitors come to the mansion, and even area schools do field trips to the grounds.