Collections

1st National

Wilson's Creek National Battlefield is home to one of the finest publicly held museum collections representing the American Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi West Theater.

The park also houses a substantial library collection, the John K. and Ruth Hulston Civil War Research Library, which includes around 15,000 cataloged books and items such as regimental histories for many Civil War units.


To search for Civil War research resources available through the Wilson's Creek research library:

  • Visit NPS LIBRIS Discovery (read-only public libary catalog)
  • Choose SIMPLE or ADVANCED search
  • Set the LOCATION search limit to WICR
  • Enter your search term(s)
  • Click SEARCH

The museum collections include historic objects and documents from many of the battles in the Trans-Mississippi Theatre of the War. The collections also contain objects from prisoner of war camps where Trans-Mississippian soldiers were detained and perished, items documenting battlefield medicine and advances in treatment, objects and documents that lead to a greater understanding of the role of women in the Civil War, and items documenting the naval aspect of warfare in the Trans-Mississippi Theater.

The collections also contain over 1,500 images of Civil War soldiers, battlefields, and civilians; a large field ordnance collection; period furniture; drawings by soldiers; an extensive medical tools and equipment collection; uniforms, hats, and other textiles; household objects; saddles, and saddle bags; and many personal items from soldiers that include grooming kits, playing cards, dice, dominoes, tobacco pipes, and housewife kits (sewing kits). The park's extensive archival collections include personal diaries and journals, civilian and military correspondence, and military orders.

Notable items in the Wilson's Creek museum collections include: a sword belt and sash belonging to Arkansas General Patrick Cleburne, Abolitionist John Brown's telescope and case, Civil War Medals of Honor, rare weapons such as the Gibbs Carbine carried by a soldier in the 10th Missouri Cavalry and an 1860s Henry repeating rifle, the bed where Union General Nathaniel Lyon's body rested before it was removed to Springfield, the Lyon body pass issued by Captain Emmett MacDonald, Lyon's sword and scabbard, and the counterpane used to cover his body after he was killed on the field of battle at Wilson's Creek. The battlefield also has a noteworthy collection of Civil War flags. These include the Confederate Cherokee Mounted Rifles Regimental flag "Cherokee Braves" representing the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole soldiers led by Cherokee General Stand Watie; the flag carried by the German immigrants from St. Louis, the Turner Battalion; the Confederate First National flag recovered from the battlefield at Wilson's Creek; and the Confederate Hempstead Rifles flag carried by Company H, 17th Arkansas Infantry.

Virtual Museums

 
Historic battle flag includes three stripes, 11 white stars, 5 red stars, and the words Cherokee Braves
The only known example of a Confederate American Indian regimental flag

Cherokee Braves Flag and the Centennial One Object Exhibit

The flag symbolizes the Cherokee Nation's support of the Confederacy. The pattern copies the Confederate First National flag: the circle of 11 white stars represents the states that formed the Confederacy. Within the circle are five red stars for each of the "Civilized Tribes" – the Choctaws, Seminoles, Chickasaws, and Creeks (with the large center red star representing the Cherokees). The words "Cherokee Braves" announce the unit's fighting resolve at the beginning of the war.

The outbreak of the Civil War forced all communities across the country to make difficult choices. American Indian tribes in present-day Oklahoma faced an uncertain future, as many were slave-owners and identified themselves with Southern culture and traditions. Cherokee leader Colonel Stand Watie began recruiting tribesmen in 1861 to fight for the Confederacy.

Watie’s unit’s first major action was at the Battle of Pea Ridge, March 1862. Following the battle, they returned to Indian Territory and were involved in several small actions and raids against Cherokee Unionists.

In June 1862, a Federal force followed the Neosho River to an area the Confederates had been raiding. Among them was Stand Watie and other Confederates. At sunrise on July 3, 1862, a detachment of about 300 Federal cavalrymen completely surprised the Confederate camp near Locust Grove. Some of the Confederates fled to nearby woods, where occasional gunfire continued all day, while others scattered. The crushing defeat at Locust Grove demoralized American Indian resistance and encouraged Cherokee recruitment for the Union cause.

Lt. David Whittaker of the 10th Kansas Infantry found the Cherokee Braves Flag in the Confederate camp. The National Park Service later acquired the flag from a private collector.

The flag represents the Wilson's Creek National Battlefield museum collection in the
National Park Service's Centennial One Object Exhibit (celebrating the 100th anniversary of NPS) and is part of the exhibit's Collections From Missouri National Parks, in which each park contributed one iconic object from its collection.

The Cherokee Braves Flag is the only known example of a Confederate American Indian regimental flag, and is associated with Colonel Stand Watie, a prominent Cherokee tribal leader.

 

Last updated: December 15, 2021

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Mailing Address:

5242 S. State Hwy ZZ
Republic , MO 65738

Phone:

417 732-2662 x227

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