When we think slavery, horrible images come to mind. Black people forced to work all day long with little to no food and water, no freedom, families broken apart, sold like animals. Absolutely horrible.
The Battle of Black Jack was the first armed conflict between pro and anti-slavery forces when Abolitionist John Brown attacked proslavery Henry C. Pate at his encampment. Soon after this attack, the Civil War began and an incident known as ‘Bleeding Kansas’ would soon follow. More on Bleeding Kansas can be found at the museum in Ft. Scott, located further South.
The area itself is a park with the Pate house still very much intact. Wooden signs are posted, telling visitors where the camps were, where the horses were kept and so on. It’s a very peaceful place….but if you’re a sensitive….it feels unnerving.
The nature trail is peaceful; but take bug spray, wear a cap and long sleeves. This is an area where nature runs wild. When I visited, I had the hell scared out of me by two wild turkeys. It wasn’t the fact they were THERE….it was the fact I didn’t SEE them until they took off. Those things are LOUD. This place is very quiet. It’s separated by a very deep, but very narrow creek. A wooden bridge allows passage. Deep wagon ruts can be seen coming out of the creek. In this area, you can almost FEEL the soldiers standing nearby, waiting to pounce.
Across the street from the battlefield, is another field of a different kind. It’s the natural prairie. With the deep wagon ruts in the ground,the tall prairie grass that surrounds you and the blue sky overhead, it’s easy to experience what it may have been like traveling along the Kansas prairie in the 1800s.
Down the street from the battlefield is the Black Jack cemetery. It’s a smallish cemetery next to an old, but occupied, house. The cemetery has…maybe twenty headstones. Best time to visit this place is during the warmer months, for obvious reasons. No shelter from the snow and I don’t recommend driving on the gravel roads in wet conditions.