The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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February 11, 2014

National Park Service finds local Civil War battlefields unsuitable for inclusion

NEWTONIA, Mo. — A National Park Service study of the two Civil War battlefields near Newtonia has determined that they’re not appropriate for inclusion in the national park system.

The study was completed in January 2013 but was not released publicly until Tuesday, after it was formally presented to Congress.

“The National Park Service finds that the Newtonia Battlefields do not meet the criteria for establishing an independent unit of the national park system and do not meet established criteria for an addition to Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield,” the study’s conclusion reads, referring to the site near Springfield.

“No new federal ownership of management is proposed.”

The study determined that the two battles, in 1862 and 1864, weren’t nationally significant in the context of the Civil War.

“In the military context of the Civil War, neither of the battles at Newtonia had an impact at a national level,” the study reads.

It goes on to report that both battles have interesting historical themes, but not any that aren’t already represented by sites under federal or state control.

Larry James, president of the Newtonia Battlefields Protection Association, and member Kay Hively said Tuesday that they would like to read the study before they make any statements.

“We’re disappointed,” Hively said.

INDIAN ROLE

“The first battle of Newtonia does not appear to rise to the same level of national significance for its representation of American Indian participation in the Civil War as other battle sites,” according to the report, titled “Newtonia Battlefields Special Resource Study.”

The first battle of Newtonia on Sept. 30, 1862, was notable as a battle in which organized units of Native Americans fought on each side. The battle, which began at 7 a.m. and lasted until after dark, was a Confederate victory, but the Confederate forces were unable to maintain their presence for the long term in an area with so many Union soldiers around.

During the fighting, pro-Southern Choctaw and Chickasaw units battled “Pin,” or pro-Union Cherokee troops.

The study states that for an area to be considered suitable for inclusion, it must represent a resource that is not already adequately represented in the national park system, or is not protected for the public by other units of federal, tribal, state or local governments, or nonprofit organizations or other private groups.

The study lists other locations that interpret the history of American Indians in the Civil War, including Pea Ridge National Military Park, in Garfield, Ark.; Honey Springs Battlefield Park, in Checotah, Okla.; Fort Scott (Kan.) National Historic Site; and Prairie Grove (Ark.) Battlefield State Park.

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