Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Travel Guide

  • Ray Farm
    Ray Farm
    by Basaic
  • Canon
    Canon
    by Basaic
  • Visitors Center
    Visitors Center
    by Basaic

Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Things to Do

  • Bloody Hill

    Perhaps the most significant stop in the park. It was here that the Union held the high ground throughout most of the battle. About 75% of the battle's casualties took place around the hill. As you leave your car, you can take a 1 mile trail to see some of the markers in the area. This includes several cannon Battery, a sinkhole where approximately...

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  • A wildlife interlude

    We ran into a few rangers who mentioned there were deer running around throughout the park that morning. We hadn't seen any until we hit stop 5 (Siegel's Final Position.) There, as we looked across the cornfields, we saw a giant buck in the distance. We quietly watched for a while, before he got spooked and took off to the woods. The deer are...

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  • Pulaski Battery and Price's Headquarters

    From the parking lot at stop 3, it's time for another modest hike, although this one does have a few elevation changes to it. You start down a trail that has a short, steep hill at the end that crosses Wire Road. From there, you can climb up a short, steep hill to see the Arkansas battery - where the confederates fired upon Bloody Hill to slow the...

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  • Ray House & Orchard

    The second stop is this house that the Confederates used as a hospital during the battle. A Confederate Colonel died in the house during the battle. You can also see a small stone building in the distance where water came from for the Ray household (it's still intact from the war.) While you can't enter the house, you can stand on the porch and...

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  • Gibson Oatfield, House, and Mill

    The first stop after going through the gate is a trailhead for a fairly easy 1 mile loop trek into the woods. You start by hiking through a field, and quickly start walking along Wilson's creek. The trail is flat and pleasant. Eventually, there are makers that show the site of farmer John Gibson's home and mill. The Gibson's were caught in the...

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  • The Auto Tour

    The tour around the battlefield is short (just under 5 miles), but offers a number of things to stop, see, and hike to. When you enter the park, you need to go to the visitor center to purchase a token that will open the gate to the one-way road. Take your time and obey the speed limits...it's not a long drive, and there are a number of rangers in...

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  • Self Guided Tour

    We found out when we visited the Visitor's center that there is a 4.9 mile paved tour road. There are eight interpretive stops at significant points to the battle. There are five walking trails off the tour road for individual exploration, varying in length from one-fourth of a mile to three-fourths of a mile. Only automobiles, buses, walkers,...

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  • Visitor's Center

    The Visitor Center is open every day 8 - 5. It has a small museum with exhibits about the battle, a thirteen minute film (always a good deal at a NPS site), and a bookstore. There was supposed to be a fiber optics map program but it wasn't in operation when we were there. It had been sent to be repaired. The rangers said it was one of the most...

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  • Ghosts Not Forgotten

    Those persons crossing Wilson's Creek on the tour road will merely pass a pleasant stream, a serene place befitting the several joggers you're certain to encounter. To get a battlefield view of the creek though, you'll have to trace the historic track of the Old Wire Road, which also takes you past the Edwards Cabin (Price's headquarters) on its...

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  • The Worst of It: Bloody Hill

    The worst fighting at Wilson's Creek occurred to the west of the stream at a prominence later to be known as "Bloody Hill." The hill is due west of the Ray House, lies at almost an equal distance from Wilson's Creek, and sits at almost the same elevation. 4,000 Union men under Gen. Lyons held this high ground against repeated attacks, but at the...

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  • Pulaski Arkansas Battery

    Stop 3 on the auto tour pinpoints the location of an Arkansas battery that halted the Union advance coming from the west on what was known as Bloody Hill. The artillery from here kept up a hot fire throughout the battle. The spot also marks (or nearly marks) the position of CSA General Price's headquarters. The point today occupies a woody ridge in...

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  • Artillery on the Field

    Artillery played a prevalent part in this early battle of the Civil War. The hardest fighting of the day took place in the meat of today's auto-tour, somewhat on a line between Stop 7 (the Bloody Hill) and Stop 3 (the East Overlook). With no cannon foundries in the south, every captured gun was an enormous prize.

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  • Ray Spring House

    At the foot of the hill in front of the Ray House, you can see a small stone structure that resembles a primitive oven. Though not resting on or near Wilson's Creek, the structure pooled water in a natural recess, providing the family's drinking water. Today, along with the actual house, the spring house is the only other surviving structure on the...

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  • Ray House

    Built in 1852, the Ray House is the main surviving structure associated with the battlefield. Before the war it was a "flag stop" on the Butterfield Overland Stage route (which brought nearby Springfield into prominence -- see my Springfield page). During the battle it served mainly as a Confederate hospital and also for a short time afterward,...

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  • Visitor Center

    The Visitor Center is generally the best stopping place for another national park or battlefield tour. Though limited in its publications, the visitor center at Wilson's Creek will discuss anything about the battle or the progress of the Civil War in Missouri with whomever might ask.

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Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Transportation

  • grandmaR's Profile Photo

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Almost the only way to get to Wilson's Creek is by car. And even that is not particularly straightforward.

    When we were there, we saw this car in the parking lot. In addition to the picture of the field with the cannon, it says Wilson's Creek National Battlefield with the National Park Service logo, and under that, the label on the back of the car says "Clean Cities" (U.S. Department of Energy)

    I found information on this on a NPS website (listed below)

    Wilson's Creek Wraps Up Hybrid Technology
    A partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities Program and Toyota Motor Sales has put a Toyota Prius? hybrid vehicle on the road at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield. The car will be used in the park and the Springfield, Missouri, area by interpretive rangers and other park staff. Driving the vehicle will help educate more than 200,000 annual visitors about hybrid technology and the NPS commitment to exploring innovative ways to better protect, manage, and preserve natural resources. Toyota Motor Sales donated the graphics "wrap" for the vehicle, which features images of the battlefield landscape complete with a cannon and rows of corn. Toyota also provided informational cards for visitors that explain hybrid technology and recognize the park's dedication to environmental stewardship and sustainability.

    NPS alternative fuel car
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    • Road Trip

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Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Shopping

  • A small collection

    This is, of course, the only place to buy anything in the National Battlefield Park. At Wilson's Creek, they have books, calendars, videos, T-shirts, maps and for children, paper dolls, coloring books, and gamesI sometimes shop in the National Park Gift Shops (and each park has one) for games or books for my grandchildren. The general categories...

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  • If You're Into Civil War Literature

    The visitor center offers one of the sparsest collections of Civil War literature in the entire NP battlefield system, but if you want a book on the subject, this is as good a place as anywhere else. When I asked one of the locals for directions to "the battlefield," I had to say "Wilson's Creek" for him to understand me (which I took for proof...

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  • Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Hotels

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Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Off The Beaten Path

  • mrclay2000's Profile Photo

    by mrclay2000 Written May 10, 2003

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    For those arriving at Wilson's Creek with a sense of history, it is best to arrive early enough to also visit Pea Ridge National Battlefield, a few hours south of here. Be careful though . . .the attendants at Pea Ridge will lock off the battlefield tour road toward 5:00 p.m. or earlier, depending on the season. If you arrive early in the morning at one, it is easy to enjoy the other the same afternoon, a pair of important battlefields often taken in conjunction.

    Pea Ridge entrance sign
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Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Sports & Outdoors

  • grandmaR's Profile Photo

    by grandmaR Updated Jul 9, 2006

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    Although I did not do it myself, there are many indications that horseback riding is one way to see the park, perhaps from the perspective of a cavalryman. There are signs throughout the park indicating parking for horse trailers, there are hitching posts, and there are maps of the for the use of horses.

    Pictured is Wire Road which is only for the use of horses and hikers, the hitching posts, the sign in the visitor's center, and a horse crossing sign. The seven mile trail system for horseback riding and hiking is accessible from the tour road. There is a link on the on the NPS website which talks about Staff Rides.

    The fifth picture is of an exhibit in the visitor's center of the dress of a Union cavalryman. The sign in the case says:
    Private Charles WOod, Company K, 4th Michigan Cavalry used this Model 1859 McClellan saddle. Wood, a resident of Attica Michigan was forty-one when he enlisted on August 9, 1862. Promoted to sergeant, he died of disease at Stanford, Kentucky on October 26, 1862.

    Sergeant Levi Patterson, Company F. 2nd Indiana Cavalry wore the cavalry uniform jacket. He enlisted on September 12, 1861, and participated in the fighting at Perryville Kentucky, Chicamauga Georgia and in the various battles and skirmishes of the Atlanta Campaign. He was mustered out on October 4, 1864.

    Other items in this case include a Model 1859 .52 Sharps Carbine and Colt Army Savage Staff and Remington revolvers.

    I am reflected in the glass case.

    Equipment: There are horse stables outside the park, but I do not know whether horses can be rented to ride into the park.

    Wire Road - Horses and Hikers only Visitor's center sign Hitching posts Horse crossing sign Union Cavalry uniform and saddle
    Related to:
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Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Favorites

  • Visitor's Center

    The sidewalk to the Visitor's Center had a kind of Time Line of events in the sidewalk leading up to and away from the door. I tried to get pictures of them all. I've posted some of the more significant ones leading up to the Battle of Wilson Creek (August 10, 1861) The partial list of the dates isMissouri Compromise - 1820Missouri Statehood -...

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  • Center of Battle, not the Center of...

    The stream itself bisects the battlefield into east and west halves. Had it not been for the historical conflict here, the scene would stand as just another charming landscape in the upper reaches of the Ozarks. You will likely find more walkers and joggers than Civil War buffs during your visit.

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  • The Rays Were Not Alone

    Other Missouri families lived in the same pocket that would become engulfed by the Civil War on those heated days of August 1861. The Gibson home and mill are no longer with us. The "Edwards" cabin at the time of my visit was lifted on beams to prevent its rotting condition from hastening to its demise. The Sharp farm is also only a ghost on the...

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