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The Civil War’s Battle of Kirksville was fought on August 6th, 1862. Even now, it is uncertain just how many troops the Union and Confederate armies saw locked in battle here, or how many troops died during that brutal, 90-minute fight. Varying reports claim between 5 and 28 Union soldiers and between 35 and 100 Confederates lost their lives on that sweltering day here in Adair County. The Battle of Kirksville was fought throughout the town. Confederate soldiers had secreted themselves in the fields of tall, nearly ripe corn, and in buildings on the square, including the courthouse itself. History has not prominently remembered the battle, but it proved a pivotal one for the Union, helping to consolidate the Union’s upper hand in northeastern Missouri. An unknown number of Confederate wounded were treated at a makeshift field hospital set up in the Ivie Hotel building on the courthouse square, where amputated limbs quickly filled a cart to overflowing. The day after the battle, fifteen Confederates were court-martialed and executed by a firing squad for parole violations. This move was loudly criticized by some, including Kirksville resident John Porter, who had called for the hospital to be set up to treat the wounded Confederate troops. The people of Kirksville buried the Confederate dead in several mass graves here in Forest-Llewellyn Cemetery.
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