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Lexington is in western Missouri, about forty miles east of Kansas City. It is home to the Battle of Lexington State Historic Site and Wentworth Military Academy and College, the oldest military school west of the Mississippi River. Lexington was founded near William Jack’s Ferry in 1822, and named for the Revolutionary War Battle of Lexington. In 1823, Lexington became the county seat. Lexington was the site of two large battled during the American Civil War. Also known as the Battle of the Hemp Bales, the first Battle of Lexington occurred on September 12, 1861, when approximately 12,00 Confederate troops under Major General Sterling Price of the Missouri State Guard attacked a Union garrison headquartered in the old Masonic College, commanded by Colonel James A. Mulligan, using hemp bales as a moving breastworks as they advanced. Colonel Mulligan surrendered on September 20. The second Battle of Lexington also involved General Price, during his Missouri Expedition on October 19, 1864. Major General William S. Rosecrans, commanding the Department of the Missouri, hoped to trap the Confederates as they marched along the Missouri River in a pincer movement, but his plan depended on Kansas militia who refused to enter Missouri. General Blunt’s 1st Division of the Army of the Border did set out for Lexington, and were attacked by Confederates just outside of town, pushing Union troops through the town and along the Independence Road until night came. Both battles were Confederate victories. Lexington was also a center for Quantill’s Raiders during the war, and afterward. Two months after the war, many of these guerrillas sought to take advantage of a Federal amnesty that was offered but as they rode into Lexington under a white flag, they were fired upon by Union soldiers, and Jesse James was wounded in the right lung. Prominent before the war, Lexington never regained its status, and was replaced by Kansas City as the most important city in western Missouri.



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