Rural Missouri Magazine

Battle of Fredericktown Civil War Museum
Fredericktown, Mo.

by Jim McCarty

There are approximately 33,000 cities, towns and villages in the United States. Of these, only 340 were directly involved in the Civil War in some way. One of these is Fredericktown, a historic town located in southeast Missouri. On May 4, the city’s Foundation for Historic Preservation will dedicate its Battle of Fredericktown Civil War Museum during the annual Azalea Festival.

The museum highlights the battle that took place in October of 1861, when Union forces under Col. J.B. Plummer fought a band of Confederates led by the Swamp Fox, Gen. Jeff Thompson. The two sides fought just a stone’s throw from the Madison County Courthouse.

A marker is planned so visitors can see where the battle took place and understand its significance. The battle was the first on the “War Eagle Trail,” which traces the march south of the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War.

This Union unit had a bald eagle named “Old Abe” that followed them into battle. During the fighting around Fredericktown, the mascot was tied to the courthouse but broke free and followed the unit into the fray. From then on, he was allowed to bolster morale with his piercing shrieks.

A lifesize sculpture of the eagle was dedicated on the courthouse grounds last summer.

The museum shown on our cover is located one block from the courthouse on South Main Street. Its restoration is one of several done by the group, which also has preserved the 1895 Underrinner House and two log cabins. Tours offer a glimpse into the past of this town, founded in 1818.

A live eagle from the World Bird Sanctuary and Civil War reenactors from both sides will be on hand for the grand opening of the museum. For information, call 573-576-8528, e-mail or log on to



Rural Missouri | June 2020 Issue

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