The city was founded in 1838 by the Fulbright brothers, who arrived originally in 1830. The town, bitterly divided between the Union and the Confederacy became the site for one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War, the Battle of Wilson's Creek. The site still stands today. The Battle of Springfield took place in 1863. Today, Springfield is a focal point of the local economy, as well as being an important railroad town.
It was the location of the first diverging diamond interchange in the United States (in a diverging diamond, traffic crossing over or under a freeway temporarily passes on the opposite side of the road from normal).
Springfield is home to over 200 churches, some of which are registered historic sites. The vast majority are either Baptist or Assemblies of God. The Assemblies of God national headquarters is located in Springfield, as are the headquarters of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International, a missionary network of Independent Baptists which previously counted Jerry Falwell as a member.
Several semipro and college sports teams are based in Springfield. The city was named "Missouri Sportstown USA" by Sports Illustrated. Below is the list of semi-pro and professional teams in the city:
- Springfield Cardinals-AA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals
- Springfield Wolfpack-American Professional Football League team, plays at Jordan Valley Ice Park
- Springfield Demize-US Premier Development League team
- Springfield Lasers-World Team Tennis club