"The Fire Upon us was Terrific:" Battlefield Archeology of Wilson Creek National Battlefield, Missouri


The National Park Service (NPS) has had an important role in preserving and protecting the nation’s cultural heritage since its inception. Archeological resources, which are an important part of this cultural heritage, are present in most units of the National Park System, and many units have been created specifically to interpret and preserve archeological resources. Like all federal agencies, the NPS is obligated by the National Historic Preservation Act [section 110 (a)(2)], Executive Order 11593, and section 14 of the Archeological Resources Protection Act to identify, evaluate, preserve, and protect historic properties, of which one type is archeological sites. A 1991 Management Control Review of the Service’s archeological program identified a critical high-risk material weakness in the basic inventory accountability of archeological resources on park lands. In short, the review indicated that the NPS simply does not know what its archeological resources consist of their numbers, their locations, their significance and consequently, NPS personnel cannot make informed judgments about their proper management.

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield is located in southwest Missouri about 180 miles southeast of Kansas City. The battlefield, located in Greene and Christian counties, includes the 1,752-acre site of the battle. The battle was commemorated when Congress passed a joint resolution on December 24, 1861; and Wilson’s Creek was only one of six battles to receive this distinction during the war. The park was created by Public Law 86-434 on April 22, 1960, and renamed a National Battlefield on December 16, 1970 (Hazelwood 1999). The Civil War battle is the primary interpretative emphasis of the park. However, Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield also contains a wealth of prehistoric information.

Within Greene and Christian Counties, Missouri, there are aobut 1600 recorded archeological sites and 50 of those sites are found on Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield. Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Specific sites and features related to the 1861 battle are also listed and include: Ray House, Ray Spring House, Ray Cornfield, Gibson’s Mill, Edwards Cabin, Sharp House, Sharp’s Cornfield, Short Farmstead, T.B. Manley House, C.B. Manley House, Gwinn House, Manley Cemetery, Edgar Cemetery, Lyon Marker, Bloody Hill, the Sinkhole, Wire Road, and Sigel’s artillery position. Objects included on the National Register listing include artifacts related to the battle that reside in the park collection.

There are 50 archeological sites recorded in the park (Table 1). Just over one-half have a component that is prehistoric in age. Twenty-five sites derive from the historic occupation of the land, and most of those were occupied at the time of the Civil War Battle of Wilson’s Creek.

Cite this Record

"The Fire Upon us was Terrific:" Battlefield Archeology of Wilson Creek National Battlefield, Missouri. Douglas D. Scott, Harold Roeker, Carl G. Carlson-Drexler. Midwest Archeological Center Technical Report ,No. 109. Lincoln, Nebraska: Midwest Archeological Center, National Park Service, Department of the Interior. 2008 ( tDAR id: 375672) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8222TFN

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.424; min lat: 37.08 ; max long: -93.389; max lat: 37.119 ;

Record Identifiers

Park Accession Number(s): 390

MWAC Accession Number(s): 1010; 924; 969

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