My Wilson’s Creek Vacation

Every year, Diane asks me, “Where should we go on our vacation?” Every year, I reply, “GETTYSBURG!”  Diane is a wonderful partner, but despite all her efforts to be accommodating, just can’t fathom going to Gettysburg year after year. Nevertheless, she does make many concessions to my desires.

    This year didn’t look like we were going to have time for a vacation. Family commitments, a special edition of Military Vehicles Magazine and a format change for Military Trader all pointed to the unlikelihood of my having time to take a vacation. Nevertheless, Diane recognized that I was going to go even a little more nutty if I didn’t take a break. On the sly, she made plans for a little Civil War get-away to the battlefields at Wilson’s Creek, Missouri, and Pea Ridge, Arkansas.

Like all of our trips together, we let the paths meander and we saw wonderful things in southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas. I had such a darn good time I wanted to share some photos from the trip. I know “trip photos” can be mighty boring, but I hope maybe you’ll enjoy seeing one or two.

(If you are looking for a really good compilation of primary sources coupled with modern analysis of this particular battle, let me recommend a book that Diane found for our trip: Wilson’s Creek Pea Ridge & Prairie Grove: A Battlefield Guide with a Section on Wire Road by Earl J. Hess, Richard W. Hatcher III, William Garret Piston and William L. Shea (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006).


Wilson’s Creek Battlefield doesn’t have too
many man-made sites but other than the Ray
House. It was used as a Confederate field
hospital during and after the battle. Diane had
assembled a big file of first-hand soldier
accounts that we read to each other as we
visited different spots on our self-guided tour
of the battlefield.


The hill seen beyond Wilson’s Creek is the site
now known as “Bloody Hill”, though, at the
time, it was simply known as “Oak Hill”.
Confederate troops made a number of assaults
up the hill in attempt to drive yankee forces
from the summit. General Nathan Lyon met
his end here.


The National Park Service has made a
reconstruction of the Edwards Cabin where
Missouri State Guard commander Sterling
Price established his headquarters.


The ford General McCulloch used to link his
Arkansas troops with Price’s Missouri State Guard.


Site of Backof’s Battery that Colonel Franz
Sigel established in the rear of the Confederate
camps.


Bronze gun at the position of Confederate
Guibor’s Battery that anchored the left flank
of the Rebel lines.


Taking aim on the approximate position of the
1st Missouri Infantry on Bloody Hill.


What summer vacation would be complete
without at least one trip to a Wal-Mart? Here
we are at the place where they all started,
Sam Walton’s Five and Dime in Bentonville,
Arkansas!

John Adams-Graf
Editor, Military Trader and Military Vehicles

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One thought on “My Wilson’s Creek Vacation

  1. Hi John,

    The historian John Keegan has a great insight into the very problems you’ve written about in interpreting history. If my memory serves me, it was in his book, "The Face of Battle" that he made an analogy that has always stuck with me. He likened oral history to eyewitness accounts at a scene of a crime. Often, eyewitness accounts are inaccurate due to the excitement of the "heat of the battle" and memory can be a funny thing. The second part of his analogy compared battlefield Archaeology to police forensic investigation. The facts of the evidence don’t lie, (although interpretation of those fact might be faulty). While the full story of a particular battle might never be known, seems a combination of the two can arrive at the best possible understanding.

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