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Civil War Round Table of Kansas City

Dr. Leo E. Oliva Bio

Kansas historian Dr. Leo E. Oliva from Woodston KS will speak at the Civil War Round Table dinner meeting on August 28th. His topic is the Santa Fe Trail and the Civil War, including Union-Confederate engagements and increasing conflicts with Indians during the war that required the attention of troops and supplies that were diverted to the Indian wars and not available for the larger conflict.

The importance of the Civil War in the West is often ignored or considered insignificant. The contest for control of the Santa Fe Trail and military posts in New Mexico had important consequences for the larger conflict. Dr. Oliva will recount the incidents and assess their significance. He challenges students of the Civil War to consider the effects of the conflicts along the historic trail on the course and outcome of the Civil War.

Dr. Oliva became interested in frontier military history during the 1959 centennial celebration of the founding of Fort Larned KS and has been researching and writing about frontier military posts, western trails, and Indian-white relations ever since. A graduate of Fort Hays State University, he earned a Masters degree in American history and a Ph.D. in American studies at the University of Denver. He is the author of several books (including Soldiers on the Santa Fe Trail in 1967 and six of the eight books in the Kansas Forts Network Series) and many articles about the frontier West and Kansas. He was editor of the Santa Fe Trail Association quarterly, Wagon Tracks, for 25 years and writes a weekly newspaper column on “Our Kansas Heritage.” He is a member of the Humanities Kansas Speakers’ Bureau.

Publications by Dr. Oliva include:

  • “Fortification on the Plains, Fort Dodge, Kansas, 1864-1882,” Brand Book of the Westerners, Denver Posse (1960), 137-179.
  • Soldiers on the Santa Fe Trail„ University of Oklahoma Press, 1967.
  • “Missouri Volunteers on the Santa Fe Trail,” The Trail Guide, Kansas City Posse of the Westerners (June and Sept. 1970), 40 pages.
  • “The Aubry Branch of the Santa Fe Trail,” Kansas Quarterly (Spring 1973), 18-29.
  • “Fort Atkinson on the Santa Fe Trail, 1850-1854,” Kansas Historical Quarterly, XL (Summer 1974), 212-233.
  • Fort Hays, Frontier Army Post, 1865-1889, Kansas State Historical Society, 1980.
  • Fort Lamed on the Santa Fe Trail, Kansas State Historical Society, 1982.
  • Fort Scott on the Indian Frontier, Kansas State Historical Society, 1984.
  • Santa Fe Trail Trivia (Third Edition, with Bonita M. Oliva), Western Books, 1989.
  • “The Santa Fe Trail in Wartime: Expansion and Preservation of the Union,” Journal of the West, XXVIII (April 1989), 53-58.
  • Fort Union and the Frontier Army in the Southwest, National Park Service, 1993.
  • “The 1829 Escorts,” Confrontation on the Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe Trail Association 1996, 17-24.
Civil War Round Table of Kansas City
436 West 88th Terrace
Kansas City, MO 64114

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