• The Ray House

    Wilson's Creek

    National Battlefield Missouri

There are park alerts in effect.
show Alerts »
  • FALL HOURS OF OPERATION

    Fall hours of operation for Wilson's Creek National Battlefield will begin on Tuesday, September 2, 2014. Tour Road hours will change to 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., while Visitor Center hours will remain at 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • TICKETS FOR POPULAR MOONLIGHT TOUR STILL AVAILABLE

    Tickets for the Moonlight Tour are still available. The tour will be held on Saturday, September 13, 2014 between 7 and 10 p.m. Tickets may be obtained at the Visitor Center or by mail (for a limited time). For more information, call 732-2662, ext. 227.

  • HISTORIC JOHN RAY HOUSE CLOSED DURING ROOF REPLACEMENT

    The Ray House will be closed intermittently while a new cedar shake roof is installed. We regret the inconvenience, but the work is necessary for the preservation of the structure. The work is scheduled to be completed by September 15.

Outdoor Activities

A 4.9 mile paved tour road may be accessed by private vehicle, bicycle, or on foot (rollerblades, skateboards and other similar modes of transport are prohibited). There are eight interpretive stops at significant points on the tour road. There are five walking trails off the tour road for individual exploration, varying in length from 1/4 to 3/4 of a mile (click here for brochure map). A 7-mile trail system for horseback riding and hiking is accessible from the tour road (click here for the Recreational Use Guide map of the trail network). Parking is available in the Visitor Center parking area as well as at each of the eight interpretive stops.
 

Military Staff Rides

Staff rides began with the Prussian Army in the mid-1800s and with the U.S. Army in the early 1900s as a way to further the development of officers.

They began to gain popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, and today, both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps use Staff Rides extensively and define them the same way: "A staff ride consists of systematic preliminary study of a selected campaign, an extensive visit to the actual sites associated with that campaign, and an opportunity to integrate the lessons derived from each. It envisions maximum student involvement before arrival at the site to guarantee thoughtful analysis and discussion. A staff ride thus links a historical event, systematic preliminary study, and actual terrain to produce battle analysis in three dimensions. It consists of three distinct phases: preliminary study, field study, and integration."

A staff ride is a group exercise in which each participant gives a briefing on plans, orders, events, decisions, and individuals. They frequently take on the persona of one of the primary participants in the battle. Afterwards, his/her colleagues question him/her about that participant's view of what has occurred on the battlefield at that point.

Crucial concepts addressed in a staff ride should include the nine principles of war: mass, objective, offensive, surprise, economy of force, maneuver, unity of command, security, and simplicity. These should be covered at each stage of the battle.

Both the Army and Marine Corps determine that "staff rides have often been confused with other exercises that involve the terrain. A tactical exercise without troops (TEWT) uses terrain and hypothetical scenarios, but not history, as a teaching vehicle. A historical battlefield tour is a visit to the site of a battle but involves little or no preliminary systematic study on the part of the student. While a historical tour can stimulate thought and discussion, it is limited by the lack of student preparation and involvement."

The Wilson's Creek Staff Ride book by Major (Ret.) George E. Knapp may be found at this link:

Combat Studies Institute/Command and General Staff College Press

Staff ride participants can find other useful information on the History & Culture pages.

Did You Know?

Ben McCulloch

Benjamin McCulloch, the overall Southern commander at Wilson's Creek, did not wear a uniform. He preferred to wear a suit of black velvet instead.