NEWTONIA, Mo. —
A study to determine whether to include Newtonia’s two Civil War battlefields in the national park system is progressing, said Natalie Franz, a planner with the Midwest Regional Office of the National Park Service.
The study, authorized in 2008, will determine if the battlefields should be brought under the control of the National Park Service, and if so, whether the site should be managed as an independent unit or operated as a satellite of Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield near Springfield.
The project has now entered a research phase to determine whether the battlefields are nationally significant.
The battlefields and the Ritchey Mansion already are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Franz said.
“That’s a really helpful jumping-off point, but we’re interested in what the national implications might be,” she said.
Newtonia’s two battles do carry some possibly significant national aspects, Franz said. Organized units of Native Americans fought on both sides in the 1862 battle.
The 1864 battle was the last fought in Missouri and one of the last fought west of the Mississippi River, and would give the National Park Service a unit to tell the story of Confederate Gen. Sterling Price’s 1,500-mile trip around the state in 1864.
“Those are kind of the avenues that we’re still investigating further for the ‘significance’ portion of things,” she said.
As for the question of whether the battlefields could be brought under the jurisdiction of Wilson’s Creek, Franz said the team is working with Wilson’s Creek staff and researching that, too.
The study will also include public comment, which was sought primarily during and immediately after a public meeting that the park service team held in July “to get a sense of what people in the community know, what their interests and concerns are in preserving something (and) what organizations should be involved,” Franz said.
Franz said the project is on track to be completed as a formal report by summer or fall 2012 and delivered to Congress, which has the final authority for designating a national park site.
For more information on the Newtonia Battlefields Special Resource Study, go to parkplanning.nps.gov/newtonia.