Wilson's Creek National Battlefield, located near Republic, Missouri, preserves the site of the Battle of Wilson's Creek. Fought on August 10, 1861, the battle was the first major American Civil War engagement west of the Mississippi River. In the battle, a Confederate army commanded by Benjamin McCulloch and Sterling Price defeated a smaller Union army commanded by Nathaniel Lyon. However, the Confederates were unable to hold much of Missouri, and a Confederate defeat at the Battle of Pea Ridge effectively solidified Union control of the state. Major features include a five-mile automobile tour loop, the restored 1852 Ray House, and "Bloody Hill," the site of the final stage of the battle. The site is located near Republic in southwestern Missouri just southwest of the city of Springfield. It has been a unit of the National Park Service since 1960, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.
Battle at Wilson's Creek
In early 1861, President Abraham Lincoln issued a call for the state of Missouri to enlist four regiments to fight against the Confederate States of America. However, then-Missouri governor Claiborne F. Jackson refused to call and prepared to use the Missouri State Guard to seize a United States government arsenal in St. Louis, Missouri. In response, Union general Nathaniel Lyon moved aggressively against the pro-Confederate Guard, driving the force away from St. Louis and removing Jackson from official government leadership. The Missouri State Guard, now commanded by Sterling Price, fell back towards the city of Springfield in southwestern Missouri, followed by Lyon and his Union army.
Meanwhile, Price had been reinforced by a small Confederate army under the command of Benjamin McCulloch. On August 10, Lyon decided to attack Price and McCulloch's combined forces while the Confederate were encamped along the banks of Wilson's Creek. Lyon split his outnumbered forces into wings commanded by himself and Col. Franz Sigel in order to attack the Confederate camp from both the front and the rear. Sigel's force was soon driven from the field, allowing Price and McCulloch to combine their forces against Lyon's column, which had taken position on Bloody Hill. Lyon was killed, and the Union forces retreated from the field. It was the first major military engagement in the American Civil War to take place west of the Mississippi river.
After the battle, Price and McCulloch strongly disagreed over command issues. Price would move towards Kansas, fearing a counterstroke from Union troops there, leaving McCulloch with an army that soon dwindled after terms of enlistments expired and some of the remaining troops were reassigned elsewhere.  Price followed up Wilson's Creek with a strike northwards towards the Missouri River, and was victorious at the Siege of Lexington. However, news that Union troops were marching to intercept his army led Price to retreat back towards Springfield. In March of the next year, Price and McCulloch would command wings of a Confederate army under the command of Earl Van Dorn at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas. The Confederate army was defeated and McCulloch was killed. The defeat at Pea Ridge ended any serious Confederate chance of holding a position in Missouri.
The battle site was established as Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Park on April 22, 1960, and was re-designated a National Battlefield on December 16, 1970. The battlefield was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. The official area of the park was expanded by 615 acres in 2004 in accordance with Public Law 108-394, and an additional 60 acres were added in 2018 after the land was purchased by the Civil War Trust.
The park is located near Republic, Missouri, which is southwest of Springfield in Greene County, Missouri. The Civil War Trust and its partners have acquired and preserved 278 acres (1.13 km2) of the battlefield, most of which has been sold to the National Park Service and incorporated into the park. In total, the park preserves 1,750 acres of the battlefield.
Wilson's Creek National Battlefield is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The visitor's center contains exhibits about the battle, a short film, fiber optic maps and a bookstore. The battlefield is accessed by a 5-mile long self-guided automobile-tour loop, which connects eight stops highlighting historically important facets of the battlefield. The tour loop also features hiking trails and a seven-mile long horseback riding trail. On August 10, the anniversary of the battle, the park hosts commemorative events.
The Ray House, which is still preserved on the battlefield, dates to before the Civil War, and was used as a field hospital following the battle. General Lyon's body was brought to the Ray House by Confederate soldiers after the Union army retreated from the field. The house is open for tours during limited hours over the summer. The tour loop also includes a stop at Bloody Hill, the site of heavy fighting during the battle, as well as the site of Lyon's death. The site of Lyon's death is marked with a monument, which was dedicated in 1928. Several cannons are also on display at Bloody Hill.
The battlefield also includes several features besides those on the tour road. One of these is the John K. and Ruth Hulston Civil War Research Library, which was founded in 1985. The library contains over 12,000 books about the Civil War, with an emphasis on the Trans-Mississippi Theater. The library also has digital access to Civil War genealogical information and some regimental histories. Also on the battlefield site is the Wilson's Creek Civil War Museum (formerly known as the General Sweeny Museum), which contains artifacts and exhibits relating to the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War.
- Thomas P. Busch (March 1976). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Wilson's Creek National Battlefield" (PDF). Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved January 1, 2017. (includes 3 photographs from 1969, 1975)
- Stevens 1990, pp. 285–286.
- "A Brief Account of the Battle of Wilson's Creek". National Park Service. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
- Prushankin, Jeffrey S. "The Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi Theater 1861-1865" (PDF). history.army.mil. United States Army. Retrieved January 30, 2020.
- Piston & Hatcher 2000, pp. 312–314.
- Piston & Hatcher 2000, pp. 314–316.
- Kennedy 1998, pp. 34–37.
- "Senate Report - Wilson's Creek National Battlefield". govinfo.gov. United States Government Publishing Office. Retrieved January 30, 2020.
- "Public Law 91-554" (PDF). govinfo.gov. United States Government Printing Office. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
- "Greene County National Register Listings". dnr.mo.gov. Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved January 30, 2020.
- "US Public Law 108-394" (PDF). congress.gov. United States Government Printing Office. Retrieved January 30, 2020.
- Skalicky, Michele. "Significant Historical Site Added to Wilson's Creek National Battlefield". KSMU Ozarks Public Radio. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
- "Saved Land 2019". battlefields.org. American Battlefield Trust. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
- Kennedy 1998, p. 23.
- "The National Parks Index 2009–2011" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
- "Things To Do - Wilson's Creek National Battlefield (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- "Teacher's Guide for Bloody Hill" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
- "The Hulston Library - Wilson's Creek National Battlefield (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
- "Visit the Wilson's Creek National Battlefield". Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Foundation. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- Kennedy, Frances (1998). The Civil War Battlefield Guide. Boston/New York: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-395-74012-5.
- Piston, William Garrett; Hatcher, Richard W. (2000). Wilson's Creek. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-5575-1.
- Stevens, Joseph E. (1990). America's National Battlefield Parks. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-2319-2.