One step closer. That is the news that Newtonia Battlefields Protection Association (NBPA) received Monday, as the U.S. Senate approved legislation Southwest Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt first drafted in 2006 to study the best means for protecting and preserving the Civil War battlefields at Newtonia.


 

One step closer.

That is the news that Newtonia Battlefields Protection Association (NBPA) received Monday, as the U.S. Senate approved legislation Southwest Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt first drafted in 2006 to study the best means for protecting and preserving the Civil War battlefields at Newtonia.

“Having been approved by the House on two separate occasions, I was pleased to see this important legislation clear the Senate,” Blunt said in a prepared statement.
“Because a few small changes were made there, the House will have to vote on the final package one more time before the president can sign the bill into law. But barring the unforeseen, I expect this legislation to be formally approved and passed into law in short order.”

NBPA president Larry James expressed his excitement upon hearing the news.

“This is very, very exciting,” said James. “This is what we have been working for several years now. I am just extremely pleased with it.”

During the Civil War, Newtonia — located about 15 miles east of Neosho on Missouri Highway 86 — saw two battles. The first battle at was in 1862 and saw an unprecedented number of Native American units fight on both sides. The second battle in 1864 battle was the last one fought in Missouri, a state that had more Civil War clashes than any other beside Virginia and Tennessee. Approximately 350 soldiers were either killed or wounded in 1862, and 650 casualties were reported in the 1864 battle.

“It’s long been my view that the area around the Civil War battlefields at Newtonia is a state and national treasure — worthy of our continued support and active protection,” Blunt said. “The first step in securing that protection will be realized once the president signs this important bill into law, and I want to thank Sen. Bond and others for shepherding it through that chamber.”

The original bill, introduced in late 2006, won the support of the House, but was never considered in the Senate.

Blunt’s legislation would authorize a study by the National Park Service (NPS) to determine the feasibility of either creating a new Civil War battlefield at Newtonia, or bringing those battlefield lands under the management of the Wilson's Creek National Battlefield near Springfield. The NPS has previously rated the 1864 battle site a “Priority I” location, and the neighboring 1862 battle area a “Priority II” for protection from development.

With the Senate having approved the Newtonia legislation 91-4 last Thursday, the bill will now be sent back to the House for final preparations, before being delivered to the president. Blunt will then go to Congress’ appropriations committee to find funding for the measure.

“It has to go back through the House again, but I don’t think that there will be any problem at all getting it passed there,” James said.

For more than a decade, the Newtonia Battlefield Protection Association has led efforts to preserve the venue. The NBPA purchased 11 acres and the two-story Ritchey Mansion, which served as both a headquarters and a working hospital during both battles. An additional eight acres donated by the Weems family and five acres of the Old Civil War Cemetery deeded to the NBPA, for a total of 24 acres.

Neosho Daily News