September 26, 2014

Camp Jackson: Fairmount Park in 1898

   In April of 1898 the United States of America declared war on Spain over Cuba.  The war lasted 112 days. 2,400 young men from the Greater Kansas City area who were members of the 3rd and 4th Regiments had been mobilized to a place called Camp Mead. Among the men went the band which had played at Fairmount Park for years.

   In September our soldiers were finally on their way home.  Finding them a place to stay while they were mustering out was a problem for the military.  Both Burge Park and Fairmount Park offered to accommodate.  Fairmount won.  A good cafĂ©, bathing in the lake and Cusenbary Spring water swayed the powers that be.

   In Camp Jackson at Fairmount Park it rained a lot.  A soldier could go home if (1) he lived locally and (2) he wasn’t in the brig.  Many were and some were fined their whole $16 a month salary.  Food wasn’t always the best or plentiful.  Some local farmers came up missing chickens, and some of the chicken thieves lost their chickens to other chicken thieves before they could cook and eat them.

   Sick Call was very popular.  A shortage of beds meant that some soldiers had to sleep on the ground, rolled up in their ponchos.

   Major Will T. Stark angered his troops when he forced them to parade by his home in Independence, a round trip of 8 miles in the rain and mud, just to impress a couple of women.
To  be continued…

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