Wilson's Creek National Battlefield, one of six 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.
A couple explores Civil War history at the Visitors Center at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield near Springfield, Missouri.
General Nathaniel Lyon was killed, the first Union general to die in combat. The Confederates were victorious. Union troops fell back to Lebanon, then Rolla, and regrouped. When they returned to Springfield, the Confederates had withdrawn. The battle led to increased military activity in Missouri and set the stage for the Battle of Pea Ridge in 1862.
The National Park Service, recognizing the significance of the battle, designated Wilson's Creek National Battlefield in 1960. The 1,750-acre park, just southwest of Springfield, remains greatly unchanged and stands as one of the most historically pristine battle sites in the country.
Reenactors fire a cannon at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield near Springfield, Missouri.
The visitor center is undergoing a major remodeling project that’s expected to open this summer. A smaller, temporary visitor center is open and the five-mile self-guided tour road is open. The 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.
Concerts, special events and educational presentations pepper the park’s calendar listed online. At special events, such as the Ray House Jamboree and the holiday Luminary Tour, park visitors will encounter people dressed in period costumes.
Tour road hours vary according to season and are generally 9 a.m.-5 p.m. from October through March, with extended hours the remainder of the year. Contact the park for specific dates.