Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield
6424 W. Farm Road 182, Republic, Missouri 65738
Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield was established on April 22, 1960 in order to preserve and commemorate the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, the site of the second major battle of the Civil War and the first major battle west of the Mississippi River. On August 10, 1861, 5,400 Union troops under the command of Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon clashed in a brutal fight with 12,000 Confederate, Arkansas and Missouri State Guard soldiers under Generals Benjamin McCulloch and Sterling Price. The casualties were about equal on both sides—1,317 Union and 1,222 Southern – and included General Lyon, who became the first Union general killed in battle. While the Union lost the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Southern commanders did not follow up their advantage, and the twin defeats at Wilson’s Creek and Lexington focused national attention on the war in Missouri and led to greater federal military activity in the state.
Located just 10 miles southwest of Springfield, Missouri, Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield encompasses 1,927 acres and preserves seventy-five percent of the actual combat area. Many visitors drive the 4.9-mile tour road and stop at the eight pullouts featuring the major events of August 10, 1861. The park has 50 known archeological sites, many of which are associated with the battle. The park also preserves cultural landscapes and historic Civil War era structures, including the Ray House, the 19th century home used as a field hospital. In August 2005, the park acquired the General Sweeny Museum, adding 8,000 unique items specific to the Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi West to the park’s extant collection of more than 60,000 artifacts. The Sweeney acquisition also resulted in an expansion of the park’s interpretive themes to include the Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi Theater.
In addition, the battlefield’s John K. and Ruth Hulston Civil War Research Library contains approximately 7,500 volumes concentrating on the Civil War period and the Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi Theater, along with periodicals, vertical files, microfilm, and maps.