This antique chromolithograph, titled Battle of Wilson's Creek, captures the intense conflict on August 10, 1861, between Union forces under General Lyon and Confederate forces commanded by General McCulloch, highlighting the fatal wounding of General Lyon and the display of both the U.S. Flag and the flag of the First Iowa, amid a scene of courage under heavy fire.
Set in the early days of the American Civil War, the Battle of Wilson's Creek was significant as the first major conflict west of the Mississippi River. The battle saw the Union forces trying to suppress the rising tide of secession in Missouri, where Confederate allegiances were strong. The chromolithograph, created by the famed firm of Kurz & Allison and copyrighted in 1893, vividly portrays the intensity and desperation of the clash, reflecting a crucial moment where the lines of division were sharply drawn in a nation at war with itself.
The artwork provides an illustrative insight into both the tactical aspects of the battle and the larger social and political context of the time. The depiction of Union soldiers rallying against Confederate lines, despite the heavy fire and loss of their commander, embodies the determination and tenacity of both sides during this fraught period. Furthermore, the inclusion of the First Iowa's flag offers a nuanced symbol of state pride and regional identity that permeates the broader tapestry of Civil War history.
In terms of historical accuracy and artistic merit, this chromolithograph stands as a valuable visual document of the Battle of Wilson's Creek. The representation of General Lyon's final moments, combined with detailed figures and symbols, provides an enriching perspective on the events of the day. Though stylized, the print serves not only as an artistic interpretation but also as a historical commentary on the battle, offering viewers a glimpse into the complexity and the human dimension of this significant chapter in American history.