I’m jumping around random locations with our travels, and this one takes us back to Missouri a long while back. It was a day spent with my daughter at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield near Springfield, Missouri.
Visiting historical sites is usually educational and inspirational. Wilson’s Creek is no different. It’s the site of the first major American Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi. Missouri was a neutral state, but the governor was secretly collaborating with Confederate troops. The history of the battle and political chess pieces were rather complex, and can be read about more in depth by clicking here. In short, the battle was a victory for the South. Approximately 2,500 men, equal casualty numbers on both sides of the war, died on “Bloody Hill” in the area surrounding Wilson’s Creek.
This post will not focus on the historical facts of the Battle at Wilson’s Creek, but will mainly contain my perceptions as we drove the five-mile loop through the area and stopped at the various markers along the way.
The park has informative plaques explaining the significance of the different sites with thorough explanations of the political climate at the time. It poignantly brings to life the human side of the men involved in the battle and gives an insightful look into the decisions made at that particular point in our nation’s history.
Seeing actual photographs of veterans from this battle brought the significance of the war, the meaning behind it, and the sacrifice these men made to fight their conscience. I couldn’t help but place myself in their shoes and wondered exactly where my loyalties would lie and how far I’d go to preserve my convictions.
Cannons are placed throughout the battlefield. They are a stark reminder of the boots marching on the soil and gunfire echoing in the wind.
Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield is a beautiful nature area with rolling hills, thick woods, wildlife, swift moving creek, and various grassy clearings. There are no visual scars of the battle left on the landscape.
Bloody Hill is especially poignant. We were there on a quiet day with nobody else around. I closed my eyes and imagined the aftermath of the horrible battle. I almost caught the faint smell of gun powder dissipating, leaving behind the smell of death and blood. Cries of agony were on the wind. When I opened my eyes, it was hard to believe the lush green of the beautiful countryside was once drenched in the blood of thousands of men. I didn’t see the ghostly shadows of the long-departed soldiers, but I felt them.
We visited the gently flowing creek when we were done with our self-guided tour. To me, it was a metaphor of how history is behind us and we need to flow in a forward direction. We need to honor where we’ve been, try to place our heart and senses in it, and learn from the actual facts and political climate of the times. We have to take those lessons learned and grow as human beings to strive to be better. We should never erase where we’ve been, neither in history nor in our personal lives. It’s a gauge of growth and progress and a priceless lesson in wisdom.
We should never erase where we’ve been, neither in history nor in our personal lives. It’s a gauge of growth and progress and a priceless lesson in wisdom.
…©dawn at http://www.randombitsoftrialanderror.com
I think those who’ve gone before us would agree. Otherwise, it was all in vain.
What do you think? Should we erase the history which brings us shame? Or, do we leave it in its place as an example from where we came from, what we’ve learned, and proof of how much we’ve grown? I would love to hear your thoughts.
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