Missouri occupies a fascinating place in American history. In the 1860s, soldiers fought many of the Civil War’s most important battles here. Today, visitors can walk on the same ground as those brave infantrymen and cavalry.
Hear the echoes of history at the Fort Davidson State Historic Site, in Pilot Knob, where Confederate troops conducted a two day siege upon the earthen fort in September 1864. After a fierce battle, Union forces prevailed. Exhibits, a research library and an informative video share the story of this battle and its significance in the Civil War.
In Republic, Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield is as an incredibly important historic site – the second major battle of the Civil War was fought there. Take a self-guided driving tour through the battlefield, stopping at key locations such as the Ray House, which served as a temporary field hospital. Learn about the battle’s significance by visiting the museum in the visitor center. Next door, the Hulston Library contains approximately 6,500 volumes concentrating on the Civil War period and the Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi Theater. Note: The library's volumes are non-circulating.
At the Battle of Lexington State Historic Site, in Lexington, you can tour the Oliver Anderson House which underwent a three-day siege in 1861. The building changed hands between the North and the South several times during the intense battle. Although meticulously restored, the home retains evidence from its Civil War days, including damage from rifle and cannon fire. The 100-acre site includes gardens and orchards, as well as a visitor center with many interesting exhibits. When it was built in 1853, the Oliver Anderson House was known as “the largest and best-arranged dwelling house west of St. Louis.”
The northernmost Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi River took place in Athens, Missouri. The Battle of Athens State Historic Site is a serene place, where fierce fighting raged in the 1861 battle; about 500 Union soldiers defeated nearly 2,000 pro-Confederacy State Guardsmen. Take a history tour to learn about this remarkable place. Hiking, fishing, boating, picnicking and camping are available, overlooking the Des Moines River.
Cavalry Cemetery, in St. Louis, is the final resting place for many Civil War figures. Visit the graves of General William Tecumseh Sherman and Dred Scott. This beautiful cemetery features stunning mausoleums and shrines. Cavalry holds the distinction of being the second-oldest cemetery in the St. Louis Archdiocese.
Taking two adjacent cemeteries together, Bellefontaine Cemetery and Calvary Cemetery, there is no place on earth where more Union and Confederate generals lie at rest in such close proximity—more generals who commanded armies during the American Civil War are buried in these cemeteries than are buried at Arlington National Cemetery and West Point combined.
In Independence, Pioneer Trails Adventures & Wagon Tour takes you across two Civil War battlefields. Additionally, see the 1859 Jail and Marshal’s Home that held the outlaw Frank James; visit the Bingham-Waggoner Estate, home of iconic American artist George Caleb Bingham; ride past actual wagon tracks left by the early pioneers; and visit several other historic locations.
And in the southwest Missouri city of Carthage, be sure to explore the Carthage Civil War Museum and the Battle of Carthage State Historic Site. At the museum, you find displays and information pertaining specifically to the Battle of Carthage and to the Civil War in Missouri, plus information on outlaw Belle Starr. At the historic site, find information about the 12-hour battle, waged July 5, 1861, at an interpretive shelter. (The site is not staffed.)