Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, located near Springfield, Mo., is this month’s featured National Park.
In 1861, it was the scene of the first major Civil War battle fought in Missouri, or west of the Mississippi River for that matter. In addition, it was the second major battle of the war.
The Battle of Wilson’s Creek is best known as the place where Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon was killed in action on August 10, 1861. He was the first Union general to lose his life in the Civil War.
Lyon was born July 14, 1818, at Ashford, Conn., to Amasa and Kezia (Knowlton) Lyon. Today a stone chimney stands alone to mark his birthplace. That Connecticut site is now the Nathaniel Lyon Memorial State Park.
After graduating from West Point in 1842, Lyon participated in the Seminole Wars, the Mexican-American War, Indian Wars, and, of course, earlier episodes in the Civil War. He never married.
Although short of stature, Lyon was a mountain of a man, a driven soldier with a fierce loyalty to the Union stance. His boots and insignia went unpolished and he often wore a faded uniform, but was much respected by those under his command.