Only Tennessee and Virginia claim more Civil
War battles than The Show-Me State. All across Missouri today, visitors can walk in the footsteps
of the soldiers, both Blue and Grey, who fought for the causes they believed in.
Perhaps Missouri’s most famous battlefield, Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, stretches
across the plains just south and west of Springfield near the town of Republic. Wilson’s Creek
was the site of the first major Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi River,
waged between the troops of Union General Nathaniel Lyon and Confederate General Sterling
Price. Two hours into the fight, Lyon became the first Union general to be killed in battle.
The Wilson’s Creek Civil War Museum maintains a remarkable collection of objects and artifacts,
including a telescope that belonged to abolitionist John Brown and the sword belt and sash of
Confederate General Patrick Cleburne. The visitors’ center features a 27-minute high-definition
interpretive film that tells the story of the battle.
East of Kansas City, in the town of Lone Jack, a small yet ferocious battle took place on
August 16, 1862. This site is one of the few battlefields in the nation where soldiers
who spilled their blood during the skirmish are actually buried on the battlefield. The
Lone Jack Civil War Museum houses many artifacts from the battle, as well as photos of the
men who fought there. In Pilot Knob, Confederate General Sterling
Price led his soldiers in an attack on Union-controlled Ft. Davidson. As Confederate troops charged
the fort, the Union soldiers fired heavily and pummeled them with hand grenades. Price’s
troops retreated, intending to regroup and attack again the next day. But the Yankees
evacuated in the middle of the night, blew up the fort and their remaining supplies,
and escaped into the dark. Today, the earthworks of Ft. Davidson, hand-built out of dirt by
Union soldiers, are well-preserved and remain largely intact.
Few military establishments during the Civil War would claim to be neutral, but Jefferson
Barracks in St. Louis came close. Established in 1826, Jefferson Barracks was the country’s
first infantry school of practice. Many of the Civil War’s most recognizable names served
here, including Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis and William Sherman.
The barracks built a large military hospital to aid the many injured soldiers of both the
North and South. It was here that Union and Confederate soldiers, who had so often caused
injury to one another lay side-by-side. Most now reside in the nearby Jefferson Barracks
Cemetery. For more tales from Missouri’s colorful Civil
War history, log on to www.VisitMO.com or call 1-800-519-4800 for a copy of your Official
Missouri Travel Guide.