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Wilson Creek National Battlefield I

"Confederate Victory"


      Union General Lyon’s Army of the West at Springfield and despite inferior numbers, Lyon decided to attack the Confederate Encampments. Leaving about 1,000 men behind to guard his supplies at Springfield, the Federal commander led 5,400 soldiers out of Springfield, Missouri on the night of August 9th 1861. Lyon’s plan called for 1,200 men under Colonel Franz Sigel to swing wide to the south, flanking the Confederate right, while the main body of troops struck from the north. Success hinged on the element of surprise.

Ironically, the Confederate leaders General Sterling Price and General Ben McCulloch had also planned a surprise attack on the Federals, but rain on the night of the 9th caused McCulloch (who was in overall command) to cancel the operation.

On the morning of the 10th, Lyon’s attack caught the Southerners off Guard, driving them back. Forging rapidly ahead, the Federals overran several Confederate camps and occupied, the crest of a ridge subsequently called “Bloody Hill.” Nearby, the Pulaski Arkansas Battery opened fire, checking the advance. This gave Price’s infantry time to form a battleline on the hill’s south slope. The Battle raged on Bloody Hill for more than five hours. Fighting was often at close quarters, and the tide turned with each charge and countercharge. Sigel’s flanking maneuver, initially successful, collapsed in the fields of the Sharp farm when McCulloch’s men counterattacked. Defeated, Sigel and his troops fled. On Bloody Hill at about 9:30 a.m., General Lyon who had been wounded twice already, was killed leading a countercharge. Major Samuel Sturgis assumed command of the Federal forces and by 11:00a.m., with ammunition nearly exhausted, ordered a withdrawal to Springfield.

The Battle of Wilson’s Creek was over. Losses were heavy and about equal on both sides- 1,317 for the Federals, 1,222 for the Confederates. The Southerners, though victorious on the field, were not able to pursue the Northerners. Lyon lost the battle and his life, but he achieved his goal; Missouri remained under Union Control.

(Narrative from NPS brochure and slightly modified by L Drummond)

Follow the signs from I-44, take Exit 70 (Mo. MM)south to US 60, Cross US 60 and drive 3/4 mile to to Mo. ZZ. Then go left on Mo. 182, and your there. WELCOME To WILSON'S CREEK NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD! (Before entering the field, you might want to check out the General Sweeney Museum, although there is a small fee, it was well worth it. Very Nice Museum.


Tour Stop 1" Gibson's Mill"--After leaving the Visitors Center, you will follow the one-way tour road to the left, cross Wilson Creek and on the right, you will stop at Tour stop 1, This is the Gibson Mill site. In front of you is the Gibson Oatfield and to the right is the trail leading to the Mill site and the House site, follow the trail to the mill site which is in this view at Wilson Creek. As you walk back to the tour stop, the trail will go through the house site. This is also the site where General James S. Rains established his Headquarters for his 2,500-man division. General Lyon's dawn attack quickly rove Rain's division south down the creek.

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VISITOR'S CENTER--As you drive up to the Park, take time stop in the Visitors Center, as you will be able to talk to the Rangers, who have a wealth of knowledge on the Battle, the Center has a fiber-optic battle map and a small museum, also on site is a gift shop. The park has a small fee to enter the park but it is well worth the fee.


Tour Stop 2 "Ray House and Cornfield"--After leaving Tour Stop 1 you will drive past the Ray cornfield on the right side of the road. Then you will come to Tour Stop 2 which is the "Rayhouse Site" on the left. But before going to the Rayhouse walk across the road to the trail which leads to the Ray Springhouse, which is pictured above. It was the Ray family's water supply and one of the only surviving wartime structures left in the park.



Springfield National Cemetery


Civil War Missouri  Main Page


Gen. Sweeney Museum Website

Civil War Traveler
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