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monument to General Nathaniel Lyon and the Battle of Wilson's Creek
is situated on top of "Bloody Ridge" at or near the spot where General
Lyon was struck down. This is now in Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
Park. The text on the monument reads as follows:
"AT OR NEAR THIS SPOT FELL BRIGADIER GENERAL NATHANIEL LYON.
BORN ASHFORD, CONN. 1818. GRADUATED U.S. MILITARY ACADEMY, 1841.
COMMANDER OF THE FEDERAL FORCES IN THE BATTLE OF WILSON CREEK
AUGUST 10, 1861. THIS MARKER IS ERECTED BY THE UNIVERSITY CLUB
OF SPRINGFIELD, MO. IN HONOR OF GENERAL LYON AND THE HUNDREDS
OF BRAVE MEN, NORTH AND SOUTH, WHO, ON THIS FIELD DIED FOR THE
RIGHT AS GOD GAVE THEM TO SEE THE RIGHT. 1928."
Before Nathaniel Lyon ever came to southwest Missouri, conflict
between Northern and Southern forces in the state had become ever
more imminent. Governor Jackson and his armed militia were pro-slavery.
The Federal troops, mainly pro-Union German immigrants, were led
by a fiery young regular, Captain Nathaniel Lyon. Fearing an attack
on the Union arsenal at St. Louis, Lyon raided the governor's militia
camp. He disarmed the men and marched them through the streets of
the city. A hostile crowd jeered, shoved and threw bricks. At last
someone opened fire and the troops returned it. Before the shooting
was over, twenty eight men lay dead or dying. The governor and his
legislature at once took measures but the Federal commander, General
W. A. Harney, arranged a temporary truce. Then Lyon replaced Harney
and was promoted to the one-star rank of brigadier general. He refused
to abide by the truce and drove the governor out of the capitol.
He then marched his little army into Springfield in July of 1861,
organized Union troops and sympathizers into a larger army and tried
to rid the region of all armed Confederates. However, at a place
called Wilson's Creek, he got into a sharp fight against a larger
force; a Rebel bullet knocked Nathaniel Lyon dead from his horse.
The Confederates kept their hold on southwest Missouri, and there
was fighting in the area throughout the war. Missouri did not leave
the Union, and that was all that the federal government cared about
at the time.
--Prepared by Harry Erb
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