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The Library Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri
Local History

A soldier's skeleton

Found a Soldier’s Skeleton in Field of Wilson's Creek

“Workmen, grading road, uncovered remains, wrapped in a blanket which still was whole after half-century.

“On the field of the Battle of Wilson's Creek, just a short distance from Wilson Creek Station, yesterday morning a workman turned a spade of red earth and a grim reminder of the Civil War was brought to light. It was a skeleton, the bones of one of the men who fell while every inch of the ground was being hotly contested on August 10, 1861.

“A heavy Minie ball, which probably ended the soldier’s life, clattered from the bones as the dirt was removed. Part of a boot and blanket were found with the bones. The discovery was made by a gang of road workmen. A man driving a grader first saw a white object, under the feet of his horses. He stopped and called to the other men, who gathered around. One man took a shovel and turned the earth, and the skeleton came into view.

“‘It’s one of McCullough’s men,’ said one, in a low voice. Hats came off. Soon the skeleton, not a bone missing, was removed from the ground. A brass button, which somewhat resembled those on the long coats of the Confederates, also was found. It was impossible to determine whether the man had been a Confederate or a Union soldier, as few uniforms were worn in the battle.

“The bullet was smooth and in no way the worse for having been buried half a century. The piece of boot was almost as hard as rock, and the rusty nails still held the sole in place. The blanket was without holes. A shirt button, black and shiny, also was found.

“The bones were unearthed by Ed Thompson, Jesse Forbis, and Wesley Stamps. A.W. Breeden, of Shreveport, La., who is acquainted with the location of the battlefield, was present when the discovery was made.

“It was on the southern part of the battleground that the men were working, where General Sigel made his stand. The battle was won by the Confederates, under General Price McCullough. The officers in command of the Union forces were General Sigel and General Lyon. The fight was one of the bloodiest encounters that took place in Missouri.”

Republican, October 30, 1914

The Local History & Genealogy Department has three displays related to Wilson's Creek National Battlefield. Highlighting veterans reunions and the development of the park, they feature battlefield relics and other rare artifacts from the National Park Service collection.

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