1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lexington (Missouri)

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LEXINGTON, a city and the county-seat of Lafayette county, Missouri, U.S.A., situated on the S. bank of the Missouri river, about 40 m. E. of Kansas City. Pop. (1900) 4190, including 1170 negroes and 283 foreign-born; (1910) 5242. It is served by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fé, the Wabash (at Lexington Junction, 4 m. N.W.), and the Missouri Pacific railway systems. The city lies for the most part on high broken ground at the summit of the river bluffs, but in part upon their face. Lexington is the seat of the Lexington College for Young Women (Baptist, established 1855), the Central College for Women (Methodist Episcopal, South; opened 1869), and the Wentworth Military Academy (1880). There are steam flour mills, furniture factories and various other small manufactories; but the main economic interest of the city is in brickyards and coal-mines in its immediate vicinity. It is one of the principal coal centres of the state, Higginsville (pop. in 1910, 2628), about 12 m. S.E., in the same county, also being important. Lexington was founded in 1819, was laid out in 1832, and, with various additions, was chartered as a city in 1845. A new charter was received in 1870. Lexington succeeded Sibley as the eastern terminus of the Santa Fé trade, and was in turn displaced by Independence; it long owed its prosperity to the freighting trade up the Missouri, and at the opening of the Civil War it was the most important river town between St Louis and St Joseph and commanded the approach by water to Fort Leavenworth.

After the Confederate success at Wilson’s Creek (Aug. 10, 1861), General Sterling Price advanced northward, and with about 15,000 men arrived in the vicinity of Lexington on the 12th of September. Here he found a Federal force of about 2800 men under Colonel James A. Mulligan (1830–1864) throwing up intrenchments on Masonic College Hill, an eminence adjoining Lexington on the N.E. An attack was made on the same day and the Federals were driven within their defences, but at night General Price withdrew to the Fair-grounds not far away and remained there five days waiting for his wagon train and for reinforcements. On the 18th the assault was renewed, and on the 20th the Confederates, advancing behind movable breastworks of water-soaked bales of hemp, forced the besieged, now long without water, to surrender. The losses were: Confederate, 25 killed and 75 wounded; Federal, 39 killed and 120 wounded. At the end of September General Price withdrew, leaving a guard of only a few hundred in the town, and on the 16th of the next month a party of 220 Federal scouts under Major Frank J. White (1842–1875) surprised this guard, released about 15 prisoners, and captured 60 or more Confederates. Another Federal raid on the town was made in December of the same year by General John Pope’s cavalry. Again, during General Price’s Missouri expedition in 1864, a Federal force entered Lexington on the 16th of October, and three days later there was some fighting about 4 m. S. of the town.