Why was this area important to the Union and the Confederate army? Why was the large battle of Wilson’s Creek fought along with other minor skirmishes in south Missouri and north Arkansas? This area was not a transportation hub nor an agriculture center. Minie balls were made of lead. The mines of southwest Missouri, southeastern Kansas and northeast Oklahoma were lead, iron, zinc and barite mines. In 1860 Missouri led the nation in lead mining. Within a year much of Missouri’s lead would be found in minie bullets and case shot balls. The lead mines in Newton County, in and around Neosho, would be much desired by both Union and Confederate forces. Lead ore is known as galena and that name is often picked up and used in lead mining areas like Galena, Kansas and Galena, Illinois.
In Newton County, Missouri the county seat is Neosho. This was the center of lead mining. By the time the Civil War was over, most of the mines were abandoned. After the war, the mines were slowly reopened. the area had sympathy for the Southern cause and many residents left to fight in the Confederate army. By the end of the War local residents seemed to have reached some accord with the Union troops stationed in the area. The Missouri Patriot reports in 1865, “Company H, 2d Ohio Cavalry, Capt. Smith, commanding, is stationed here. It has the praise of being the most friendly, orderly and sober company ever at this post. The company expects soon to be ordered away from here, when the country will be entirely clear of soldiers, a time we all want to see, as we have no use for them now.”