RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
Missouri was on the Western front of the Civil War, yet it had more battles than all but two other states. From St. Louis Public Radio, Maria Altman reports.
MARIA ALTMAN: Today, it's a county park, but the peace is being disturbed by re-enactors as they prepare to wage battle.
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ALTMAN: More than 1,000 Civil War battles were fought on Missouri soil. Re- enactor Frank Aufmuth says they're re-creating one that hasn't been done before.
FRANK AUFMUTH: We're doing the Battle of Blackwell. But, yeah, there's a lot of battles, too many to name.
ALTMAN: Today, Aufmuth is playing a general. In real life, he's a history teacher and argues that Missouri is a great place to study the Civil War.
AUFMUTH: We have some of the firsts. We have some of the lasts. I mean, if you can't find a Civil War site in Missouri, you're not looking.
ALTMAN: Getting tourists to come look is Katie Steele Danner's job. The director of Missouri's Tourism Division says she realizes her state is not the first place people think of when it comes to the Civil War.
KATIE STEELE DANNER: We know that Americans are interested in the history of the Civil War, and we'd like them to know how important Missouri was in that total history. Over 1,000 battles took place, and in fact, Missouri was a state divided.
ALTMAN: The Civil War Preservation Trust, which works to preserve battlefields, estimates more than 20 states are promoting Civil War-related sites. And spokesman Jim Campi says there's a lot of money at stake.
JIM CAMPI: Your average family of four spends about $1,000 when they visit a Civil War site, you know, when you're looking at lodging, gas, food, souvenirs, etcetera.
ALTMAN: Campi says Missouri is well-positioned to get some of those dollars. He calls Wilson's Creek National Battlefield in southwest Missouri one of the best-preserved in the nation. The site of the first major battle west of the Mississippi, about 2,500 men were wounded or killed at the Battle of Wilson's Creek on August 10th, 1861.
CONNIE LANGUM: The Civil War did take place here.
ALTMAN: Connie Langum is an historian at the park. She says it's her personal mission to educate people about Missouri's role in the war.
LANGUM: We have a long ways to go, as far as to make up for the press that the East Coast receives, you know. But that's typical. Even during the war, it was the East Coast that got the press, because that's where the newspapers were.
ALTMAN: For NPR News, I'm Maria Altman in St. Louis.
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