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30[civilwarwest] Wilson Creek, et. al.

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  • Terry Bieberly
    Aug 13, 1999
      I come to you quite new at all this, but excited at the opportunity being afforded to me.  I am woefully inadequate in many areas of Civil War history, but I am willing and hopefully, capable of learning.  I look forward to being enlightened by all of you.
      Tuesday, August 10, 1999, I had the extreme fortune to visit Wilson Creek Battlefield during the battle's 138th Anniversary celebration.  My traveling companion, who shall remain nameless (o.k. Pat?), had given me quite a prolific overview of the battle before leaving on our journey.  But, I wasn't prepared for the incredible experience that awaited me. 
      I have only had one other opportunity to visit other Civil War battlefields (Shiloh and Corinth in June '99), so my expectations on what I was to encounter were meager.  Wilson's Creek, though small in comparison to other battlefields, was a pristine, spiritual place.  The obvious care that has been shown and undertaken to preserve all the historical relevance of the battlefield was most evident. 
      The highlight of this day was a guided driving tour throughout the battlefield with Ed Bearss.  Being it was well over 100 degrees, the feint hearted weren't expected to last through the afternoon.  One would do well never to describe Mr. Bearss as feint of heart.  His grasp of the history surrounding Wilson Creek was inspiring.  He answered all questions, and even applauded others' input.  He out-walked us all, out-talked us all, and seemed unaffected by the oppressive heat.  He seemed to be pleased to have the opportunity to walk, again, this battlefield which he holds dear.
      Obviously, Wilson Creek Battlefield is quite obscure.  Seemingly a great part of our country doesn't view the battle there with much significance, due to the relatively small size armies that fought there and the some 500+ casualties.  Compared to bigger battles, this one does seem quite small.  But, if Ed Bearss found the time to come there and give a fabulous tour through it's battlefield in a blast furnace...doesn't that give one pause?
      In many ways, this battle kept Missouri from leaving the Union.  Scrappy Nathaniel Lyon, though not much of a PR man, saw the significance of maintaining Union control of southern Missouri, even though his superior (Fremont) apparently did not.  Though the battle was a Southern victory, the Southern army was not in a position to follow the Federals back to Springfield.  If nothing else, this battle bought needed organizational time for the Union Army in Missouri. 
      Mike Ingrisano spoke of Wilson Creek with high respect.  He alluded to the fact that this battlefield has been kept secret.  As he stated, "if one man was killed on that battlefield, it had significance in the outcome of the war".  I would strongly urge any who have the time to visit this place.  The commercialism is completely absent.  Other than telephone poles and paved roads, one can get the true sense of what these fields actually looked like on that early morning in August.  And, be sure, that visiting WC in August, one WILL understand the discomfort those brave men had wearing wool uniforms and carrying their gear.  My only advice...bring water!
      And one more thing...though it was closed, General Sweeney's Museum is said to be the finest private collection of Civil War artifacts in our country.  I was quite disappointed in not being able to go through, but assuredly will plan my next trip to WC around the time schedule of Sweeney's Museum.  To visit their website, www.civilwarmuseum.com and take note of the museum hours before planning a Wilson Creek Battlefield tour.
      Thank you for your time,
      N. Bieberly
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