- CIVIL WAR COLLECTION DONATED TO PARK SERVICE
A massive collection of artifacts relating to the Trans-Mississippi region
of the Civil War has been acquired by the National Park Service (NPS). The
$4.5 million agreement also includes the acquisition of a 20-acre property
with a five-bedroom Victorian home that serves as a museum. It is located
directly across the street from the Wilson's Creek National Battlefield in
Republic, Missouri, which is operated by the National Park Service. Tours
of the museum will be included in the price of admission to the park.
Tom Sweeney, a retired radiologist from Springfield, Missouri, amassed this
collection that consists of thousands of artifacts including diaries,
uniforms, weapons, and flags. Many of the items have been used for
illustrations in the Time-Life book series about the Civil War. Some of
the more significant items of note include the sword belt, buckle, and sash
worn by General Patrick Cleburne when he was killed at the Battle of
Franklin, and the Confederate battle flag of the 1st Cherokee Mounted
Rifles carried by Indians under Stand Watie.
Over the years, Sweeney traveled around the country attending collector's
shows and acquired hundreds of artifacts and relics. With the funds he
obtained from the NPS when the agency purchased John Brown's bible
(currently on display at Harper's Ferry National Historical Park in West
Virginia), Sweeney was able to finance the opening of his museum in 1993
which he called "General Sweeney's." The museum was named after his
ancestor, General Thomas W. Sweeney, who lost an arm in the Mexican War and
fought at Wilson's Creek where he was wounded a second time. Since the
museum opened, Sweeney and his wife Karen have diligently researched,
categorized, cross-referenced, and displayed the collection for visitors.
Michael L. Vice, the retired curator at the Gettysburg National Military
Park in Pennsylvania, described the collection as "extraordinary" and noted
that the cataloguing and record keeping is what distinguishes it from
others. He also observed that this collection should serve as a reminder
about the presence of the Civil War in the west, something that it commonly
"There are no bad regiments, there are only bad officers."
Field Marshall Lord Slim