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Showdown at Black Jack

On June 2, 1856 radical abolitionist John Brown led a surprise attack on a group of pro slavery militia led by Henry Clay Pate. Pate was looking for John Brown and intended to punish him for his involvement in the murder of several pro slavery men. The fight took place at Black Jack, a Santa Fe Trail camp site in south east Douglas County. The fight involved about one hundred men and resulted in few casualties and the capture of Pate and his men. Johnathan Hart, Executive Director of Black Jack Battlefield and Nature Park, ( background on the Border War and efforts to preserve and restore the historic site. The Black Jack Battlefield Trust is raising funds to construct a visitors center that will tell the story of the historic encounter. Educational classes and a nature trail and prairie walk will be developed. John Brown describes the encounter as “the first regular battle between Free-State and pro slavery forces in Kansas.”