Wilson’s Creek – a pristine Civil War battlefield

Wilson's Creek National Battlefield

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield

Whether you are a local or a visitor, a trip to Wilson’s Creek is a must-do in the Ozarks.

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, one of only two national parks in the state of Missouri, is a perfect stop for an entertaining and educational experience.

Fought on August 10, 1861, the Battle of Wilson’s Creek was a pivotal battle in Missouri and the second major battle of the Civil War. When the smoke cleared, more than 2,500 Union and Confederate soldiers were killed, wounded or missing in five hours of intense fighting.

The visitor center features a new 27-minute film, a museum and changing exhibits.

 

A five-mile self-guided tour road allows visitors to explore the battlefield at their own pace. Walking trails lead to various battle sites, including Bloody Hill, the Historic John Ray House and the Edwards Cabin.

Wilson’s Creek was the first major Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi River, and the scene of the death of Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union general killed in combat. The bloody Southern victory on August 10, 1861, focused greater national attention on the war in Missouri.  The nearly pristine landscape allows visitors to experience one of the best-preserved battlefields in the nation.

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield is home to one of the finest publically held museum collections representing the American Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi West Theater.

The museum collections include historic objects and documents from many of the battles in the Trans-Mississippi Theatre of the War. The collections also contain objects from prisoner of war camps where Trans-Mississippian soldiers were detained and perished, items documenting battlefield medicine and advances in treatment, objects and documents that lead to a greater understanding of the role of women in the Civil War, and items documenting the naval aspect of warfare in the Trans-Mississippi Theater.

The collections also contain over 1500 images of Civil War soldiers, battlefields, and civilians; a large field ordnance collection; period furniture; drawings by soldiers; an extensive medical tools and equipment collection; uniforms, hats, and other textiles; household objects; saddles, and saddle bags; and many personal items from soldiers that include grooming kits, playing cards, dice, dominoes, tobacco pipes, and housewife kits (sewing kits). The park’s extensive archival collections include personal diaries and journals, civilian and military correspondence, and military orders.

Notable items in the Wilson’s Creek museum collections include: a sword belt and sash belonging to Arkansas General Patrick Cleburne, Abolitionist John Brown’s telescope and case, Civil War Medals of Honor, rare weapons such as the Gibbs Carbine carried by a soldier in the 10th Missouri Calvary, the bed where Union General Nathaniel Lyon’s body rested before it was removed to Springfield, the Lyon body pass issued by General Emmett McDonald, Lyon’s sword and scabbard, and the counterpane used to cover his body after he was killed on the field of battle at Wilson’s Creek. The battlefield also has a noteworthy collection of Civil War flags. These include the Confederate Cherokee Mounted Rifles Regimental flag “Cherokee Braves” representing the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole soldiers led by Cherokee General Stand Watie; the flag carried by the German immigrants from St. Louis, the Turner Battalion; the Confederate First National flag recovered from the battlefield at Wilson’s Creek; and the Confederate Hempstead Rifles flag carried by Company H, 17th Arkansas Infantry.


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