Author to discuss Civil War battle

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December 7, 2011 - 12:00 AM

Jeff Stalnaker, a 1986 graduate of Iola High School, will return to Iola Thursday to talk about his new book “The Battle of Mine Creek: The Crushing End of the Missouri Campaign” at 7 p.m. in the Frederick Funston Meeting Hall at 207 N. Jefferson. The event is being sponsored by the Allen County Historical Society.
A graduate of the University of Kansas with a degree in history and political science, Stalnaker said he became interested in history while a student at Iola Middle School.
“I guess you could say Bill Shirley, who was my eighth-grade history teacher, fostered my love of history. I’m kind of nervous because Mr. Shirley said he is coming to my talk on Thursday,” Stalnaker said.
Stalnaker’s book is only the second book published on the Battle of Mine Creek, the largest Civil War battle fought in the state of Kansas. 
Stalnaker said he became interested in the battle when he would pass the battlefield near Pleasanton on his drive from Kansas City to Fort Scott.
As with today’s wars writers would travel with the Civil War troops reporting on the battles. Except, they believed the war to be over after the battle at Gettysburg and didn’t follow the troops to Kansas, Stalnaker said.
In 1864, he said, Union troops controlled much of the South, Sherman’s men marched through Georgia and the defeat at Gettysburg was a painful and distant memory. Trying to turn the tide, Confederate Maj. Gen. Sterling Price led an army of 12,000 troops on a desperate charge through Missouri to deliver the state to the Confederacy and dash President Lincoln’s hopes for re-election. This daring campaign culminated with the Battle of Mine Creek. A severely outnumbered Union Army crushed the Confederate forces in one of the war’s largest and most audacious cavalry charges.
In his book, Stalnaker puts the reader in the saddle with the Union troopers as they destroy all hope for Rebel victory.
Stalnaker will have copies of the book available for purchase and will sign copies of the book for those who are interested.
Stalnaker and his wife, Jen Black, daughter, Emma, and two dogs and cat live in Mission.

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