The Civil War in Missouri

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Battle of Wilson’s Creek

Chromolithograph by Kurz and Allison, 1893
MHM Photographs and Prints

General Nathaniel Lyon moved into southwest Missouri as part of his campaign to secure the state for the Union. Meanwhile, General Sterling Price, leader of the pro-Confederate Missouri State Guard, teamed with Confederate General Benjamin McCulloch to do the same. Both sides met near Springfield on August 10, 1861, in a bloody battle at Wilson’s Creek that introduced the damage that modern infantry and artillery could produce. The number of combatants totaled more than 15,000, and the number of casualties (dead, wounded, and missing) was high—12 percent for the South and 25 percent for the North. These figures represent a quantifiable measure of men lost, yet there were also consequences off the battlefield. The local civilian population was greatly affected by the battle’s destruction, and refugees moved away from the area and filtered into other parts of the state.