By Larry White
27 Apr 2008
Patti and I love photography. We take as many trips as we can, and when we can't go far we take day trips around our area here in Olathe, Ks (a suburb of Kansas City). At the end of October, 2007 we headed north looking for fall trees to shoot. It was still warm and the leaves were painted in all the colors of fall.
Did I mention we also like to shoot cemeteries? Patti will post headstones at FindAGrave.com. We started talking to a caretaker at the cemetery in Camden Point, Missouri and he asked if we knew of the "First Confederate Cemetery west of the Mississippi?" We were immediately interested and he pointed across the crossroads, about 1/2 mile away to a very small cemetery. We went over and found, though some of the grounds were well kept, there were many headstones hidden in the brush and weeds behind the cleared area. Trees were growing around and near the headstones, turning them and cracking them until they were almost impossible to read.
The local library in Camden Point was very helpful and friendly, giving us access to the newspaper accounts and history of the battle of Camden Point that caused the death of these brave men over 140 years ago. Here is a brief history from the library:
In 1864, Col.C.C. Thornton had been in Platte County recruiting for Southern forces. He had been in Platte City two days, with a group of 40 - 125 raw recruits. Thornton was camped on the road leading north out of Camden Point. The ladies of Camden Point presented Col. Thornton a flag. Thornton gave a flowery speech, and people were enjoying a picnic supper at 5:00 p.m. in an adjoining pasture. News that Thornton was in the county had eached Leavenworth, Ks.
Thornton had been warned that troops were building. About 250 men from St. Joseph, Mo. joined the Union Forces from Ft. Leavenworth at Weston and about 1000 men went in pursuit of Thornton.
Led by Cols. Ford and Jennison, the Union Forces captured the sentries and surprised the Confederate troops. Thornton dropped the flag and ran. Three Confederate veterans took charge and rallied the men to check the charge and allowed most men to saddle up and escape. Two Confederates were killed and one soldier was wounded. He crawled to a fence to try to hide, moaned and was found and shot.
Three confederates were taken prisoner and executed. The terrified people of Camden Point buried the dead in the pasture.In September 1871 citizens of Green Township met in Camden Point to discuss reburial of the remains and the erection of a monument.
In November the monument was dedicated, being the first monument to be erected west of the Mississippi River honoring Confederate soldiers.
Photography has brought us to places we would never have
found otherwise. Larry and Patti White