NYPL RESEARCH LIBRARIES
3 3433 08179850 6
Battle of Wilson's Creek,
OR OAK HILLS,
f> - '
kou<;ht between the
UNION TROOPS, COMMANDED BY GEN. N. LYON,
SOUTHERN, OR CONFEDERATE TROOPS, UNDER COMMAND
OF GENS. Mcculloch and price,
SATURDAY, AUGUST 10, 1861,
GREENE COUNTY, MISSOURI.
WRITTEN AND COMPILED FROM AUTHENTIC 80DRCBS '
By HOLCOMBE & ADAMS.
Published on the Twenty-Second Anniversary of the Battle, as a Full and
Faithful Account, and as a Memorial of the Reunion of the Siirylvors ot
the Slneraerement of Both Sides, held Atierust 8, 0, and 10, 1883.
DOW & A D A M S, P u B L I 8 H E'R 8.
St. Loui* .
NixON-JONC* Printino Company.
CEN Sir RUNG PRICF.
13 RKSPKCTFULLY DEDICATFU TO THK
BLUE AND GRAY
who took part ix thk
Battle of Wilson's Creek, or Oak Hili^,
August 10th, 1861.
BATTLE OF WILSON'S CREEK.
PRELIMINARY M0VP:MENTS TO THE BATTLE.
The Situation in Southwest Missouri After the Firing on Ft. Sumptcr — The First
Fodornl Troops in the Country — "Sijjjol is Coming!" — Gen. Sweeney Comes to
Springfield — Sigel Departs for Carthngc — Gen. Lyon Enters the Country —
Sweeney's Expedition to Forsyth — Confederate Military Operations — The
Fight at Dug Springs — Gen Lyon Fulls back — Gen's Price and McCuUooh
Follow up — A Great Battle Imminent — Controversy Between Price and Mc-
III giviiiix an account of tlie Lattlo of Wilfion'sCrcck, or Oak
Hills, which though not the largest, has passed into history, as
one of the hardest and Lest fought battles of the American Civil
"War, it is necessary to descril)e certjiin military movements and
operations which took place previously, in order that a better
understanding of all of the circumstances mav be had. This
must be done here briefly and in a somewhat desultory way.
Upon the outbreak of the civil war in 18('l, the people of
Southwest Missouri were divided in sentiment, although a majority
of them were Unit)uists. At the previous Presidential election,
Lincoln, the Republican candidate, had received 42 votes in
Green county alone, and this district had sent unconditional
Union candidates to the State Convention the previous February
by a vote of four to one. Union Home Guards were organized
in Springfield in May to the number of 1200, composed of citizens
of Greene, Christian, and adjoining counties and commanded by
Col. John S. Phelps (afterward Governor). The secessionists in
6 BATTLE OF WILSON 8 CREEK.
this quarter of the State were in the iniuorit}', but they werel»old
and disposed to he agij^ressive.
FIRST FEDERAL TROOPS.
In a few days after the occupation of RoUa, Col. Franz Sigol
took up the line of march for Springfield. He had his own
regiment, the 3d Mo. Volunteers, and Col. Chas E. Salomon's
5th Missouri Volunteers. The march from RoUa to Springfield
was necessarily slow, as the Federals were compelled to feel their
way cautiously, hut, considering all of the cirsumstances, very
good time was made. Detachments were sent out on either side
of the road from time to time, and the country pretty well recon-
'• SIGEL IS COMING ! "
At last, on Sunday morning, June 24, 18G1, the citizens of
Springfield who lived in the eastern part of town, looked out on
the St. Louis road and saw, coming leisurely along, a column of
men led by others on horseback. The wind lifted and shook out
a banner, which, when unfolded, showed the old familiar stripes
in all their splendor and the stars in all their beauty. Just then
the band struck up a spirit-stirring air, and the cry rang out and
was caught up and borne through all the town, ♦* They are com-
ing ! They are comming ! " If it was asked, " Who are
coming?" the reply sometimes was, "The Union soldiers," l)ut
often came the answer, *' The Yank»ie Dutch. " People had
dilVerent ways of looking at the thing and different ideas altogether
about the matter I
But whether they were " brave Union Germans " or
*♦ Yankee Dutch," certain it wasthat Sigel and his troops were u\
full possession of the town. It was about 11 : 30 in the foreiioon
when the soldiers reached the main part of town. Pickets were
put out on all roads, and many prisoners made among the citizens
accused of real or premeditated ** treason " against the govern-
ment. The court-house was pretty well filled at one time with
these prisoners. Some property was seized or ♦• pressed " by the
BATTLE OF WILSON 8 CHEEK. 7
soldiers, and their presence did not give universal or even general
GEN. SWEENEY COMES TO SPRINGFIELD.
On tiic 1st of July Gen, T. W. Sweeney (then really only a
captain in the regular army), having been elected a brigadier by
the St. Louis Home Guards, came to Springfield with a force of,
say 1, 500 men, including the Ist Iowa Infantry (dressed in gray
uniforms) a portion of the 2d Kansas, and some artillery and a
battalion of regular dragoons.
By reason of his nink, which was recognized as that of brig-
adier, Gen. Sweeney became the commander of the Federal
army, then in Southwest Missouri. He was a brigadier-general
of Home Guards or U. S. Reserve Corps ; Sigel and Salomon
and Brown were l)ut colonels of volunteers. Sweeney was an
Irishman. He had but one arm, having lost the other in the
Mexican war. Like many another of his countrymen, he had
more fight in him than good judgment. Although starting in
rank pretty well at the top at the beginning of the war, he never
attained any great military distinction. After the war he led the
Fenian raid into Canada, which ended so ignominiously.
SIGEL DEPARTS FOR CARTHAGE.
After the battle of Boonville, June 17, the State forces, under
Col. Marmaduke and Gov. Jackson, retreated toward the South-
west portion of the State to co-operate with the troops under
Gen. Rains, and to be in easy distance of the Confederate forces
at Fayetteville, Ark., under Gen. Ben McCulloch. News of this
movement having reached Gen. Sigel at Springfield, that oflScer
at once set out to intercept it — to prevent, if possible, a junc-
tion between the forces of Col Marmaduko and those of Gen.
Rjiins, and to attack the latter and destroy him in his camp, suiJ-
posed to be near Rupe's x^oint, in Jasper county.
♦' Pressing " a number of horses and wagons from the citizens
of this county, especially from about Springfield, Sigel, with the
greater part of his own and Salomon's regiment and a company
of regulars, set out from Springfield westward on the Mt. Vernon
8 IJATTLE OF WILSON 8 CRKKK.
road, one hot moniidir ul)Out the 1st of Jiilv. His destination
was Cartilage, (15 miles awa^', lie had with liim eight pieces of
Backofs artillery, <> and 12 ponnders. On the. 5th the Wattle of
Carthage 'was fonght between the eight companies of SigeFs
regiment, seven comi)anies of Salomon's and the artillery under
Backof on the Union side, and the State Guards under Gov.
Jackson in person, and Gens. Kains and Parsons. The Federals
were defeated and fell hack to Mt. Vcr;r n, Sigcl being foiled in
his attemi)t to prevent the conceritrution of the secessionists.
GEN. LYON ENTERS THE COUNTY.
On the 3d of July Gen. Nathaniel Lyon, at the head of al)out
2,000 troops, left Boonville for the Southwest to co-operate with
Sigel. On the 2')th of June tive companies of cavalry, six com-
panies of regular infantry and dragoons, and ten companies of
Kansas volnnteers, in all ahout 1,()00 men, under command of
Maj. S. D. Sturgis, left Kansas City, destined also for South-
west Missouri. At Grand River, in Henry c(Minty, the two com-
nninds formed a junction, and then started for Sigel. Hearing
of the hitter's defeat, and retreat to the eastward. Gen. Lyon
chanjrcd his direction more to the eastward and came into this
county ahout the 13th of July, going into camp near Pond
Spring, on section 31, township 29, range 23, in the western
l)art of the county. Lyon came into the town of SpringHcld
July 13th, leaving, as he wrote to Chester Harding, his troops,
•' a few miles back."
Gen. Lyon was mounted on an iron-gray horse, and had an
escort or body-guard of ten men of the 1st regiment U. S.
regular cavalry, all of whom were men remarkal>lc for their
large size, strong })liysique, and fine horsemanship. Lyon
treated the citizens with courtesy and kindness, although im-
jncssing their provisions and animals, to some extent, for the
use of his men. As soon as he arrived in this quarter he com-
municated with Sigel, and with Gen. Fremont at St. Louis, ask-
ing the latter to send him reinforcements at once. He also
busied himself in recruiting for the Federal service — issuing
coinniissions to officers of Home Guard companies, and muster-
BATTLK OF WILSON 8 CRKKK. »
iii^' in onlistiMl men. IIo was visited by Union men from coun-
ties north and east 7") miles away.
SWKKNKY's EXPEDITIOX to FOUSYTII.
Saturday, .Inly 20, about 1,200 men were detailed under Gen.
Sweeney to break u|> a seeession eamp rei)ortedto be at Forsyth,
the county seat of Taney county. The eonnnand was composed
of the two companies of re<;uh\r cavalry, under Cai)t. D. S.
Stanley; a section of Cap/t. Totten's battery, in charge of Lt.
Sokalski ; about /)()() men of the 1st Iowa Infantry, under Lt.
Col. Morritt; Cai)t. Wood's company of mounted Kansas volun-
teers, and the 2d Kansas Infantry, under Col. Mitchell. The
expedition reached Forsyth in the afternoon of Monday, cap-
tured the town with but little difficulty, driving out al)out 200
State Guards, who had been <piartered in the court-house, and
secured some blankets, clothing, guns, provisions, horses and
one or two prisoners. A (piantity of lead was taken from a
well into which it had been thrown. Three shells were thrown
into the court-house after the Federals had possession of the
Gen. Sweeney remained in Forsyth al)()ut 24 hours, and re-
turned to Springfield on Thursday. Ilis loss was three men
wounded, and Capt. Stanley had a horse shot uiider him. It
was reported that the secessionists had five killed and ten woun<Ied,
junong the latter being one Cai)t. Jackson. A camp of 1,000
Confederates, at Yellville, Ark., was not molested by Gen.
Sweeney, although only 50 miles from Forsyth.
COXFKDEHATK MI[.ITAKV Ol'ERATIOXS.
Meantime i)reparations were making among the secessionists
of iSIissouri to dispute the occupancy of the Southwest portion
of the State with the Federals. Gen. Ben McCullocl), of Texas,
had been ordered bv the Confederate government to o-o to the
assistance of its allies in Missouri. Accordingly he rendezvoused
at Fayettcvillc, Ark., where he was joined by some Louisiana
and Arkansas volunteers and a division of Arkansas State troops.
The Missouri State Guards, Gov. Jackson's troops, had
10 BATTLE OF WILSOX'S CKKEK.
rondi'zvousod, Hrst near Saiooxio, in Jasper county, afterward
on tlie Cowskin Prairie, in McDonald countv, where sonic time
was sDcnt in drillin<r, orjranizinfj and recruitin"".
On the 2')th of .July. 18(11, (leneral Sterling Price, in command
of (tov. Jackson's State (Juard, began to move his command
from its encampment on the Cowskin Prairie toward Cassville,
Bariy county, at which jilace it had been agreed between
( Jenerals McCulloch an() N. B. Pearce, of the Confedei'atc force,
and Price tliat their respective commands, together with General
J. II. McBride's division of State Guards, should concentrate,
])reparatory to a forwanl movement on Lyon and Sigel and the
other Pi'deral troops in the vicinity of SpringHeld. On the 29tli
the junction was effected. The combined armies were then })ut
under marching orders. The 1st division, commanded by (Jen.
McCulloch in person ; the 2d, by (Jen. Pearce, of Arkansas,
and the od, by (Jen. Steen, of Missouri, left Cassville on the-
1st and 2d of August, taking the Springfield road. It is said
that Gen. Price, with the greater portion of his infantry,
accompanied the 2d division.* A few days afterward a
regiment of Texas rangers, under Col. IC. (Jreer, joined the
martial host advancing to attack the Federals. Gen. James S.
Rains, formerly the well known politician of Jasper county , with
six companies of mounted Missourians belonging to his division,
the 8th, commanded the advance <;uard. Rains was sivcn the
advance because many of his men were frr.'.n this (juarter of the
State and knew the country very well. Or. Friday, August 2,
he encamped at Dug Si)rings, in Stone county, about 20 miles
southwest of Springfield. The main array was some distance to
The Southern army was really composed of three small armies,
as follows: The Missouri State Guard, under Gen. Price ; ;u
division of Arkansas State troops, under Gen. N. Bart. Pearce,
and a division of Confederate troops under Gen. McCulloch.
Pcarcc's division was composed of the 1st Arkansas cavalry.
Col. De Rosey Carroll; Capt. Chas. A. Carroll's independent
company of cavalry; the 3d Arkansas infantry, Col. John R.
Gratiot; tiie 4th Arkansas infantry, Col. J. D. Walker; the 5th
HATTLK OF WILSON's CREEK. 11
Arkansas infantry, Col. Tom P. Dockery, and Capt. \Vo»kI-
ruff't? battery, the *' Pulaski Artillery." All of the infantry
regiments had enlisted only for three months, and their time ex-
I)ired al)out Sept. L They were Sfafe troops, or militia. An-
other Arkansas l)attery, Cai)t. J. G. Keid's, of Ft. Smith, was
also with Gen. Pearce, but assigned to McCulloch afterwards.
THE FKiHT AT UUO SP1UXG8.
Gen. Lyon was duly informed of the concentration of the
Southern troops at Cassville, of the junction of Price and Mc-
Culloch, and of their intention of marching uj)on his own camj).
His scouts and spies wore numerous, sharp and faithful. They
marched in the ranks with the secession troops at tinu\«*, hung
about oflicers' (|uarters, picked up all tlie information they could
and then made their way inside the Federal lines in a very sIh)^
time. For the most part Lyon's scouts were residents of this
part of the State and knew all the country very thoroughly.
Gen. Price, too, had scouts jind spies, who kept him posted —
who, by various ruses and stratagems visited the Federal camps,
and obtained valuable information and conveyed it to "Old
Pap" in short order. And Price's scouts, too, were chiefly
residents of Southwest Missouri. A number of Green county
men did scouting for both Price and Lyon.
Learning of the movements of Price and McCulloch, Gen.
Lyon determined to go out and meet them. He first sent more
messengers to Gen. Fremont, at St. Louis, befjfrin"; for rein-
forcements, and late in the afternoon of Thursday, the 1st of
August, his entire army, which, by the addition of Sigel's and
Sturgis' forces, had been increased to5,8()8 men of all arms, in-
fantry, cavalry and eighteen i)'eces of artillery, led by himself,
moved toward Cassville, leaving behind a force of volunteers
and Home Guards to guard Springfield. That night the army
bivouacked about ten miles southwest of Springfield, on a
branch of the James. Gen. Lyon's subordinate commanders
were Brig. Gen. T. W. Sweeney, Col. Sigel and Maj. Sturgis.
The next morning, early, the command moved forward. It Mas
a hot day and the men suffered severely from dust, heat and ex-
12 BATTLK OF WILSOx's CKKFCK.
cessivo thirst, most of tlic wells and tlu> streams hciii^ dry.
Towards evening tivo dollars was offered for a eanteen of warm
At Dug Springs tin- army halted, having eome up with (ien.
Kains' advance of the Southern forces. The Missourians were
first ()l)servt>d about 11 o'clock in the forenoon, at a house l)y
tile roadside with a wagon partially la(hMi with cooked provis-
ions, from which they were driven away by shell from one of
Caj)!. Totten's guns. At the Dug Springs (which are in an
oblong valley, five miles in length and broken by j)rojecting
spui's of the hills, which form wooded ridges), at al)out 5 o'clock
in the evi'iiing a skii'inish took place between Rains' secession-
ists and a battalion of regular infantry under Capt. Fred Steeh>,
a company of r. S. dragoons under Capt. D. S. Stanley, and two
()-poundcis of Cajjt. Totten's battery. The Southerners were
driven away with a loss of one killed, perhai)s half a dozen
wounded, and ten prisoners. A Li«'utenant Nort licit is re;)orted
as having been mortally wounded. The Federal loss was four
killed outright, one mortally wounded, and about thirty slightly
wounded. Three of the Federal killed were Corporal Klein, and
Privates (iivens and Devlin.
On the side of the IMissourians a young man named II. D.
Fulbright, was sunstruck in the engagement, and died. W. J.
Frazier, of the (iieene County Company, attached to McBride's
division, was wounded.
I'he Federals pursued next morning, going as far as Curran,
or ^IcCuUah's store, nearly on the county line between Stone
and Barry counties, and twenty-six miles from Snringtield.
During the day a scouting i)arty of secessionists, which had
come across the country from Marionvillc, was encountered at
dinner. Totten's artillery was brought up, a few shells fired,
and the Southern troops did not wait for the desert! This is a
brief, but correct account of what is often referred to in histo-
ries of the civil war as the " battle " of Dug Springs.
OEX. LYON FALLS HACK.
Finding that the enemy in his front was much his superior in
numbers, Gen. Lyon determined to go no farther than Curran,
BATTLE OF WILSON's CKKEK. 13
but to return to Si)rin*rfi('l<l and await the reinforcements so
urgently requested of (ien. Fremont before risking a decisive
battle, the result of which \vould certainly mean a splendid
victory and jjossession of all Southwestern Missouri to one
party or the other. The Federal scouts also reported that a
larire force of State (Juards was marching to the assistance
of Gen. Price from toward Sarcoxic. Accordingly, after a
conference with his oflicers, Sweeney, Sigel, and Majors Sturgis,
Schofield, Shepherd, and Conant, and the artillery captains,
Tottcn and Scliaeffer, (ien. Lyon countcrm.arched his army and
returned to Sjn-ingtield, coming this time directly to the town,
where he arrived August r)th. The main body of the army
camped about the town. Nearly 2,000 of the volunteers and
regulars under Lt. Col. Andrews, of the 1st Missouri, and Maj.
Sturgis were stationed out about four miles from town. Two
days later this force was withdrawn to the line of defence
around the town.
A vi<''ilant cuard was at once set upon all roads and avenues
of a})proach to Springfield. No one was allowed to go on(y
except i)hysicians, although everybody was admitted. Never,
perhaps, in the history of war was a camp so well guarded, and
all knowledge of its character kept so well from tiie enemy as
was Gen. Lyon's at Springfield.
Col. Thos. L. Snead, now of New York City, and Gen. Price's
assistant adjutant general in 18(51, has kindly furnished much
very valuable information to the writer hereof, and through
this volume to the world at large. The colonel's means of
knowledge arc very superior, and he has manifested the utmost
willingness to impart what he knows concerning the memorable
days of July and August, 18(51.
Col. Sncad eays that on Sunday morning, August 4th (18(51),
Gen. Price and he rode over to Gen. McCuUoch's headquarters,
at McCuUoah's farm, and in the presence of Snead and Col.
James Mcintosh, who was McCulloch's 'adjutant general, Gen.
Price urged McCulloch to co-operate with him in an attack on
Lyon, who Avas supposed to be in the immediate front, — it not
then being known to the Confederates that he had retreated.
14 BATTLE OF WILSON'.S CREEK.
Mi'Culloch liad no faith in Price's skill as an otHcor, and a \)vo~
found contempt for the Missouri officers generally, — and for
Gen. Rains particularly.*
Gen. Price vas a major-general of Missouri militia, McCulloch
only a Confederate i)rigadier. Price had a loud voice and a
positive address, and always spoke to McCulloch as if the latter
were his inferior. " Do you mean to march on and attack
Lyon, Gen. McCulloch?" he demanded. " I have not received
orders yet lo do so, sir," answered McCulloch; "my instruc-
tions leave me in doubt whether I will he justified in doing so."
" Now, sir," said Price, still in his loud, imperious tone, " I
have commanded in more battles than you ever saw. Gen. Mc-
Culloch. I have three times as many troops as you. I am
of higlu r r.'mk than you are, and I am twenty years your senior
in age and general exi)crience. I waive all these considerations,
Gen. McCulloch, and if 3'ou will march upon the enemy I will
obey your orders, and give you the whole command and all the
glory to be won there I " McCulloch said he was then expecting
a dispatch from President Duvis, and would take Gen. Price at
his word if it should be favorable, and if after consultation with
Gen. P«\'irce the latter should agree also to co-operate, Gen.
Pearce having an independent command of Arkansas State
(Jen. Price immediatelv called his general officers together and
told them what he had done. They were at first violently op-
l)osed to his action, but finally they gave their unwilling consent
to what they considered an unnecessary self-abasement. In the
afternoon McCulloch and Mcintosh came to Price's headquarters,
and McCulloch announced that he had received from Richmond,
since morning, dispatches that gave him greater freedom of
action and also that he would receive that night 1,000 reinforce-
ments (Greer's Texas regiment), and that he would therefore
accede to Gen. Price's proposition and assume command of the
combined armies and march against Gen. Lyon. Accordingly
Col. Snead wrote, by Gen. Price's direction, the necessary
* The fight at Dug Springs w-w called by some of the Confederate officera, deri-
Bivcly, "Kaint* Scare."
BATTLE OF WILSON'S CKEEK. 15
orders uiul had thoiii i)ul)lisli(Ml to the Missouri State Guard. It
having been U-arned that the Federals were retreating, orders
>verc given to move that very night. Lyon had, however,
escaped, "and," says Col. Snead, "this was fortunate for us,
THE SOlTHEliX FORCES INDEK VllUE AND mViLLOCII ENTER
OUEEX COUNTY A OltEAT IJATTLE IMMINENT.
When Gen. Rains' troops were driven from the tiehl at Dug
Springs, they fell back on the main army under Price and
MoCulloch, some five miles away, and rej)orted that the force
which had assailed them was not only vastly superior to their
own, but was much larger and more formidable than the com-
bined Southern army. It was evident that Gen. Rains, if not
badly whipped, was badly frightened. The Confederates and
Missourians were then encamped on Crane Creek, in the north-
ern i)art of Stone county.
Thereupon there was confusion among the principal Southern
oflicers. General McCulloch counselled a retreat and General
Price advocated a forward movement. Price's officers and
men ajjreed witii him and were " eajer for the frav." As
iSIcCulloch wafl unwilling to advance, General Price asked him to
loan him some arms for the destitute portion of his command,
that the Missourians might advance by themselves. McCulloch
at first refused ;. afterwards 800 nmskets were furnished the
Missourians. The embarrassins: disagreement continued till in
the evening of Sunday, August 4, when an order was received by
McCulloch from the Confederate authorities ordering what
Price nmch desired — an advance on General Lyon. A council
was at once held, at which McCulloch agreed to march on
Springfield provided he was granted the chief command of the
consolidated army. Price, to whom in right and justice the
supreme command belonged, anxious to encounter the Federals
and defeat and drive them from the State before they could be
reinforced by Fremont from St. Louis, consented to the terms
of the imperious Texas ranger, saying: *• I am not fighting for
distinction, but for the liberties of my country, and I am willing
1() BATTLE OF WILSON's CKKEK.
to siinTiulcr not only my command but my life, if necessary, as
a sacriHce to the cause." A little after midnight, therefore, on
Sunday, August 4, the Southern camp was broken up and the
troops took up the line of march, which was continued slowly and
cautiously, along the Fayettevillc road to the crossing of Wil-
son's Creek, near the Christian county line, in sections 25
and 2<), tp. 28, range 23, ten miles southwest of Springfield,
which locality was reached on the Gth.
BATTLE OF WILSON'S CREEK. 17
THE BATTLE OF WILSON'S CREEK — THE UNION OR FED-
Ocn. Lyon in Springfield — His entreaties to Gen. Fremont for Reinforcements —
Lyon Loses His Temper — Preliminaries to the Final Conflict — Slight skir-
mishes — Proposals to Retreat — Gen. Sweeney Opposed — A False Alarm —
Thursday, August 8th — Friday, August 9th — A Messenger from Fremont —
No Hope — Lyon's Last Letter — Confederate Military Movements — Failure to
Discover or Develop the Federal Position — McCulloch Reconnoiters in Person
— Price Loses His Patience — An Advance Ordered on Springfield — Gen. Lyon
Marches Out to Battle — Order of March, List of Regiments and Battalions,
€tc. — The March Begun — Lyon's Route — "Gay and Hpppy," — Col. Sigel's
Advance and Route — Preparations in Springfield for Retreat — Great Excitement
Among the Citizens — The Federals in Position Waiting for the Dawn — Lyon
Opens the battle — Temporarj' Success of the Federals — Desperate Fighting on
Both Sides — Death of Gen. Lyon — Full Particulars — Still t"he Battle Goes On
— Nearing the End — The Last Grand Charge of Price's Men — The Federals Re-
treat — Sigel's Part in the Fight — Surprise of the Confederate Camp — Moving
Forward — All Successful So Far — In Position — A Force Seen Approachin t
Down the Valley — " They Are Frionds " — *' Ah ! They Shoot Against Us ; They
Make a Mistake " — " No I They Are Enemies ! " — Charge of the Louisiana Reg-
iment — The Federals Retreat with Precipitation and in Confusion — Destruction
of Sigel's Force — Sigol Himself Escapes, " With Two Dutch Guards and Nary
Gun " — Lieut. Farrand's A ccount — Surgeon Melcher's Account — Sigel's Expla-
nation — Capt. Carr's Account.
GEN. LYON IN SPRINGFIELD.
When Gen. Lyon returned to Springfield after the Dug Springs
expedition, he scattered his forces upon the different roads lead-
ing into the city at a distance of from three to five miles. Five
miles from town, on the Fayettevillc road, was a force of 2,500
under command of Maj. Sturgis. The other roads were well
guarded, and all precautions were taken against a surprise or a
sudden attack. Gen. Lyon's private room and personal head-
quarters were in a hoase on North Jefferson street, not far from
the public square. The building, a small one, was then owned
by Mrs. Boren ; it is now ( 1883) the property of Mrs. Timmons.
His general headquarters were on the north side of College street,
18 J5ATTLK OF WILSON's CUKEK.
a little Avest of Mnin, in a house then owned by John 8. Phelps,
but Avhioh had been recently occupied by Maj. Dorn. In this
i^nmo house his body lay, after it was borne from the battle field
of Wilson's Creek. Tlie house was burned by Curtis' Federals
in February, \Si'>'2, and where it once stood is now (July, 1883)
a vacant lot, on which are the remains of an old cellar.
As soon as Lyon reached Springfield he again sent off a courier
to Fremont at St. Louis asking for reinforcements. Hon. John
8. Phelps, who had started for Washington City to attend the
extra session of Congress convened by President Lincoln, had
stopped in 8t. Louis, called upon Gen. Fremont, and urged him
to help Lyon and the Union people of Southwest Missouri with
njcn and su})plies, both of which were at St. Louis in abundance*
But Fremont stated that he did not believe Gen. Lyon was in
anything like desperate straits ; that McCulloch and Price could
have nothing but an inconsiderable force, since the country in
Southwestern ^lissouri was too poor to support a force of any
formidable strength ; that in his opinion Lyon could take cave of
himself: and finally that ho had no troops to spare him anyhow^
as he had received information through Gov. Morton, of Lidiana,
that a larjie Confederate force and flotilla of gunboats, under
command of Gen. Pillow, were coming up the Mississippi to at-
tack Cairo, Bird's Point, and if successful in their destruction,
would come on and destroy St. Louis, and that he had need of
every available man to guard those threatened points.
Gen. Lyon consulted with his officers and with the prominent
* The following is a literal copy of the memorandum given to Col. Phelps by Gen.
Lyon, when the former left Springfield. Lyon instructed Phelps to give this to Fre-
mont: "Memorandum for Col. Phelps. — See General Fremont about troops and
stores for this place. Our men have not been paid and are rather dispirited ; they
are badly off for clothing and the want of shoes unfits them for marching. Some
staff officers are badly needed, and the interests of the government suffer for the want
of them. The time of the three months volunteers is nearly out, and on their return-
ing home my command will be reduced too low for effective operations. Troops
must at once be forwarded to supply their place. The safety of the State is hazarded.
Orders from Gen. Scott strip the entire West of regular forces and increase the
chances of sacrificing it. The public press is full of reports that troops from other
Slates are moving toward the northern border of Arkansas for the purpose of invad-
ing Missouri. Springfield, July 27."
HATTLE OF WILSON's CHEEK. 19
Union nion of Springfield very freely. He knew the situation
})erfectly. His scouts came in every day from MeCulloch'samiy
and gave him all needed information. He was impatient to fight
the force in his front, but he anxiously desired reinforcements to
enable him to have a reasonable chance of success. Every day
he visited the out-posts and nearly every day sent off messages
for help. Sometimes he would lose his temper and curse and
swear quite violently. On one occasion he received a ra(\ssage
from Fremont that no more troops could or would be sent for
the present. Striding back and forth in his room, with the pa-
j)er in his hand, he suddenly threw it on the table, and smiting
his hands together erica out; '- G — d d — n General Fremont:
He is a worse enemy to me and the Union cause than Price and
McCulloch and the whole d — d tribe of rebels in this part of the
PRELLMINAUIES OF THE FINAL STRUGGLE.
On Monday, August 5, the day of Lyon's arrival at Spring-
field, as before stated, ne left a force of 2,500 strong at a point
about five miles from Springfield, on the Fayetteville road. This
force (comprising fully one-third of Lyon's army), under Major
Sturgis, was ordered by Gen. Lyon to be ready to move at a
moment's notice, and at about o'clock on the evening of the
next day the men were in ranks, the artillery horses harnessed,
and everything in readiness to march back and attack the ad-
Shortly afterward a stream of visitors, messennjers, and com-
munications poured in upon the generd, some reporting the
encairement of Caot. Stockton, of the 1st Kansas, and two com-
panics of Home Guards with a party of Price's cavalry, on the
prairie west of town, in which two of the latter were wounded ;
some gave other information ; some were the bearers of excel-
lent advice ( ! ) ; others came for orders ; still others had no
Two companies were ordered to the relief of Capt. Stockton ►
* From statements of two prominent Union men of Greene county whe were-
20 BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK.
Eight companies of the 1st Kansas infantry, a part of the second
Kansas, and Major Ostcrhaus' battalion of the 2d Missouri were
ordered to a certain point in town to await the arrival of Gen.
Lyon, who, it seems, was so entirely occupied with other matters
that instead of starting at 10 o'clock, it was midnight when he
left his headquarters, and without looking at his watch he pro-
ceeded to Camp Hunter, having already ordered Major Sturgis
to drive in the enemy's pickets, if within two miles of his own.
A company of cavalry under Capt. Fred Steele* was dispatched
♦Afterward Mnjor Genonil in command of tne Federal troops in Arkansas.
on his errand (to find the pickets) at half-past 12, and Gen.
Lyon, with tjje troops above mentioned, arrived at 3 o'clock in
the morning. Here he consulted his watch, and, finding the
time more than two hours later than ho sup])osed, he at once called
together his principal officers, commun'cated to them his embar-
rassing position, and taking their advice, withdrew the entire
force to Springfield.
It had l)een Lyon's intention, on retreating from Dug Springs
to Springriold, to wheel suddenly about on reaching the latter
place and march back uj>on Price and McCulloch (who, he con-
sidered, woidd be following him up), fall upon them when they
least expected an attack, and defeat them if possible. On ar-
riving at Springfield, appearances indicated the approach of a
Confederate force from the west, and this caused him to wait
a few hours. The night of the 6th, his information was to the
effect that Price and McCulloch were only seven miles away
from Sturgis' camp, and he intended attacking them at daylight.
On the return to town the general remarked to Major Schofield,
of the 1st Missouri (Frank Blair's regiment), that he had a pre-
monition that a night attack would prove disastrous, and yet he
had felt inipelled to try it once, and perhaps should do so again,
♦♦for my only hope of success is in a surprise," he added. Be-
fore the Federals reached Springfield it was daylight. An am-
bush was formed in the timber southwest of town in case of
During Wednesday continued alarms were circulated in Spring-
field, and a real panic prevailed among many of the citizens, who
BATTLE or Wilson's creek. 21
})acked uj) and loft, or prepared to leave, for suppos^ed j)laces of
safety. The troops w^^-c under anus in every quarter, and
several times it was reported that tifrhting had actually com-
menced. Toward night the panic in a degree subsided ; but many
of the people who remained did not retire or make any attempt to
sleep. Phelps' regiment of Home Guards, commanded by Col.
Marcus Boyd, was on the qui vive the whole night.
A consultation of the principal Federal officers was held at
Gen. Lyon's headquarters, which lasted till midnight. The
question of evacuating Springfield and abandoning Southwest
Missouri to its fate was seriously discussed. Looking at the
matter from a military point of view, there was no doubt of the
l)ropriety and even the necessity of such a step, and Gen. Lyon
and the majority of his oflScers counseled such a movement.
Some favored a retreat to Fort Scott, while others thought RoUa
a point easier reached and promising better results.
Gen. Sweeny, however, was strongly opposed to retreating
without a fiirht. With his naturally florid face flushed to livid
red, and waving his one arm with excitement, he exclaimed
vehemently agamst such a policy — pointing out the disastrous
results which must ensue upon a retreat without a battle — how
the *' rebels " would boast over such an easy conquest, how they
would terrorize, harrass, and persecute the unprotected Union-
ists if given undisputed i)Ossession of the country, how the
Unionists themselves would become discouraged, crushed, or
estranged, and declared himself in favor of holding on to the last
moment, and of giving battle to Price and McCulloch as soon as
they should offer 't.*
Gen. Lyon and some of the other oflicers became converts to
Gen. Sweeny's views, and it was decided to remain, save the
reputation of the little army, hope against hope for reinforce-
ments, and not evacuate Springfield and Greene county until
compelled to. The next day when Sigel's brigade quartermas-
ter, Major Alexis Mudd, asked Gen. Lyon when the army would
* Oen. Sweeney said : " Let us eat the last bit of mule flesh and fire the last
cartridge before we think of retreating."
22 BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK.
leave SpriiigfieUl, the latter replied; " Not until wc arc wliippeil
A FALSE ALAKM.
Tiiurijday niorninp:, Price and McCulloch were reported to be
actually advancing on Springfield. Lyon's troops were quickly
in line of battle, the luLrjxaire wafrons were all sent to the center
of the town, and in this position they remained during nearly
the entire day. The Southern troops J>a(l advanced, but only
about tvo miles, and had gone into cani}) in the southern part of
this county, nearly on the line between Greene and Christian
counties (in sections 25 and 36, tp. 28, range 23, partly in
Greene and partly in Christian county), their tents being on
cither side of Wil-on'> Creek, and extending a mile or so east
and south of the Fayetteville road. Thursday evening the Fed-
erals were ready for marching orders, but a portion of the
Kansas troops had been so much engaged the night before as to
be really untit for service, and an order for all of the soldiers,
except those actually on guard, to retire and rest, was issued,
and the nijrht attack was anfain deferred. The Home Guards
were on duty and in active service in the city at this time.
And so the soldiers lay down to rest and to sleej) — to many cf
them it was to be the last rei)ose they should take until they
.should lie down to take their last sleep. Soon the camps were
wrapped in silence and slumber and no sound was to be heard
save the cry of the night birds and the challenges of the watch-
ful i)ickcts as they hailed the relief guard, or arrested the steps
of some ))elated wanderer. There they lay, these men from
Iowa and Kansas, jdreaming of the homes and loved ones they had
left behind them on the beautiful prairies of their own States,
and in vision seeing faces and forms and scenes they were des-
tined to never see again in reality. There they lay, these bearded
(iermans from St. Louis, dreaming, perhaps, of families and
kinsmen in the city by the great river, or of their early homes
in the Fatherland, far across the deep, blue sea. There they
lay, these Missouri Unionists, sleeping as peacefully as their
brethren in arms.
BATTLE OF WILSON'S CUEEK. 23
There they hiy, too, only a few miles away, thot^e men un ler
the folds of the new flag, who had come out from their homes by
the bayous of Louisiana, on the plains of Texas, amid the hills
and dales and valleys of Arkansas and Missouri, to do battle for
the cause they believed to be just and righteous, to drive out
those wliom they believed to be the wrongful invaders of their
country, the dcspollers of their homes. And to blue and gray
alike, with an equal peace and softness, came that balmy blessing
which " knits up the raveled sleeve of care.''
Friday, the 9th, Springfield was remarkably quiet. But the
calm preceded the storm. Those timid creatures who had made
it a business to repeat exciting rumors had been frightened away
with much of the material upon which they oi)erated. Enlist-
ments in the Springfield regiment had been rapid, and really
among the uninitiated and uninformed a feeling of security pre-
vailed. During the afternoon, Capt. Wood's company of Kan-
sas cavalry and Capt. Stanley's company of regulars had a skir-
mish with a scouting part}' of Price's cavalry on the prairie
about five miles west of town, defeating them, wounding two and
capturing six or eight prisoners. From the prisoners, among
other information, it was learned that the Southern trooj»s were
badly off for provisions and were forced to do some pretty lib-
eral foraging on both friends and enemies.
A MESSENGER FROM FREMONT — NO HOPE !
About noon there arrived a messenger from St. Louis and
Fremont beaming a dispatch from the latter to Gen. Lyon. This
dispatch informed Lyon that his situation was not considered
critical ; that he doubtless ovc-esti mated the force in his front ;
that he oujjht not to fall back without fjood cause, and assured
him that no reinforcement would be sent, but that he nmst report
his future movements as soon as possible, and do the best he
Like the brave, disci})lined soldier that he was, Lyon accepted
the situation, and prejiared to obey the orders of his superior
oflicer. "With Fremont's message before him, he sat quietly
24 iJATTLE OF Wilson's chekk.
down at his little table in his headquarters and wrote the follow-
ing reply with his own hand — tlu- last letter he ever wrote: —
Sim!I.\(;fikld, Mo., Aug. 9, 1861.
Ctknekal — I have just received your note of the ()th inst.,
by special messenger. I retired to this place, as I have before in-
formed you, reaching here on the Ath. The enemy followed to
within ten miles of here. lie has taken a strong position, and is
recruiting his supplies of horses, mules, and provisions by for-
ages into the surrounding country. Ilis large force of mounted
men enables him to do this without much annoyance from me.
I lind my j)osition extremely embarrassing, and am at present
unable to determine whether I shall l)e able to maintain my
ground or forced to retire. I shall hold my ground as long as
possible, though I may, without knowing how far, endanger the
safety of my entire force with its valuable material, being in-
duced, by the important considerations involved, to take this
step. The enemy yesterday made a show of force about live
miles distant, and has doubtless a full purpose of making an at-
tack on me. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brig. Gen. Vols., Commanding.
To Major Gen. J. C. Fremont, Commanding Western Depart-
ment, St. Louis, Mo.
No word of complaint ; no murmuring ; but with the expressed
knowledge that he was to be attacked, when attack meant defeat*
he calmly announced his determination to hold his ground as
" long as possible."
CONFEDERATE MILITARY MOVEMENTS rRECEDING THE BATTLE.
From their camp at Moody's Spring, where they had arrived
Monday night, Generals Price and McCulloch moved forward to
the point on "Wilson's creek, heretofore described, and went
again into camp on the fith. Scouting parties were at once sent
out, especially to discover the Federal . position, but with little
success, while foraging parties scoured the country in every di-
rection, and were equally inefficient in obtaining information.
The combined forces were at once put in position to advance on
Springfield, and only awaited the decision of Gen. McCulloch to
BATTLE OF WII.SOn's CREEK. 25
besfin to bccfin to move. The latter was irresolute and undecided
for some days. From the information he possessed as to the
strength and character of Lyon's forces and his knowledge of his
own, he was fearful of the result of an engagement at that tinie.
He had but little confidence in Price's Missourians, who w^ere
somewhat undisciplined and inexperienced, it is true, and at one
time he characterized them as " splendid roasting-cir foragers»
but poor soldiers." .
It is an undoubted fact that at one time Gen. McCullocL had
decided to retreat into Arkansas. Gen. Price, however, was
anxious for an immediate advance and attack. He knew that Ly-
on's force was inferior even to his own, and that the entire South-
ern army had but little to risk in offering battle. He knew
furthermore, that Lyon ought to be reinforced, and that the
chances were that he could and would be, and of course it was
desirable that the enemy be attacked before this reinforcement
should be effected. The most serious feature considered by
McCulloch, tjiat die Missourians were illy disciplined, imper-
fectly organized, and poorly armed. Price thought would be
overcome by their superiority in numbers and their pluck in
fighting on Missouri soil against a detested enemy — "the
There remains to be shown a good reason why McCulloch did
not follow up Lyon and attack him on the 6th ; it is true that he
gained a victory by waiting, but that victory could have been
won four days earlier and made more complete, more decisive
and more lasting in its results. And yet McCulloch, on the 8th,
seriously meditated a retreat — knowing his enemy's strength as
well as his own, and understanding, or supposed to understand,
the situation perfectly.
In his report to the Confederate Secretary of War (see Re-
bellion Records, Series I., Vol. HI., p. 745), Gen. McCulloch
says: «« • * ♦ I asked of the Missourians, owing to their
knowledge of the country, some reliable information of the
strength and position of the enemy. This they repeatedly
promised, but totally failed to furnish, though to urge them to
it I then and at subsequent periods declared I would order tlif
2<> BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK.
v'hoJp army hack to CassviUe, rather than bring on an engage-
ment with an unknown enemy. It had no effect, as ive remained
four days v:i(Jiin ten miles of Springfield, and never learned
ivhether (he streets irere barricaded, or if any kind of works of
defense had been erected by the enemy .'^
Col. Snead says that McCulloch made every effort to discover
the condition of SpringHeld; that he (McCulloch) would fre-
quently sling his ritle over his siioulder, mount his horse and
reconnoiter in person; but all to no i)uri)Ose. Incredible as it
may seem, it could not even be ascertained whether or not the
Federals had thrown uji ])reastworks, which it might be sup-
posed could be learned from inspection a mile away.
Gen. X. B. Pearce says the first information concerning Gen.
Lyon's condition was furnished by two ladies, who, "on a pass
to go out of Lyon's lines, came around by Pond Springs, and
came to Gen. Price's headquarters and gave the desired informa-
tion.' Xo corroboration of this story has been obtained, but it
is iriven on tiie hiirh authoritv of such a jrallant officer and hijrh-
minded gentleman as Gen. Pearce, now of Whitesboro, Texas.
At last. Gen. Price lost all patience, and .at sunrise on the
morning of the i>th, sent Col. Snead over to jNIcCuUoch, to say
to him that if he did not give orders for an immediate advance
he (Price) would resume command of the Missouri State Guard
and advance alone, be the consequences what they might. This
led to a conference of the general officers at Price's head-
(puirters that afternoon, which conference resulted in orders for
an advance on Springlield that very night, the movement to
begin at nine o'clock.
GEX. Lvox :makciies out to battle.
Upon the receipt of Gen. Fremont's last message, to the effect
that no help would be sent. Gen. Lyon resolved upon attacking
his enemv down on Wilson's creek and trustinfj to the effect of
a surprise and a fierce fight. He was led to this course by the
fact that he knew his situation would not improve with time, and
perhaps by his kn6wledge of the fact that Price an McCulloch
BATTLE OF WILSON'S CREEK. 27
were about to attack him.* To fif^rht on the defensive about
Springfield, with a town full of women and children behind him
and an open country adapted to the movements of cavalry, of
which he had but a handful, and of which his enemy's force
hirgely consisted, could but lesult one way — in defeat. The
Confederates were expecting to attack, not to be attacked, and
if the Federals should fall suddenly upon them it wou.d dis-
concert them very materially, to say the least. These were the
tactics adopted by Gen. Lee when Grant crossed the Rapidan, in
the spring of 18(34, and by Napoleon, in the first campaign in
Accordingly, late in the afternoon of the 9th (Friday) word
Avas sent to the subordinate commanders that after nightfal
another movement against the Confederates would be made
BctAveen Gens. Lyon and Sweeney, Col. Sigel, and Maj. Sturgis,
the plan of attack was agreed upon. That part of the plan
which arranged for sending Sigel's brigade around completely
to the south and rear of the Confederate position, was, it is said,
adopted by Gen. Lyon upon tiie most urgent suggestions and
representations of Col. Sigel himself. The arnn* was to be di-
vided into two columns. The. first column, undei* Lyon, was to
consist of three small brigades, the second under Sigel, was to
consist of one small brigade composed of two regiments of in-
fantry, two companies of cavalry, and six pieces of artillery.
The first brigade of Lyon's column was composed of three
companies of the 1st U. S. regular infantry, as follows : Co. B,
Capt. Gilbert; Co. C, Capt. Plummer; Co. D, Capt. Huston;
a company of regular rifie recruits under Lieut. Wood, — the four
companies being commanded by Capt. Plummer, of Co. C.
Then there were two companies of the 2d Missouri Volunteers,
under Maj. P. J. Osterhaus ; Capt. Woods' company (mounted)
of the 2d Kansas Volunteers; Company B, 1st L". S. regular
cavalry, under Lieut. Caulfield, and a light battery of nix pieces
* There are grounds for stating that Ljon knew of the intended attack upon him
within four hours after it had been agreed upon, receiving his information through
one of his spies, actually a commissioned officer in the Missouri State Guard!
28 BATTLE OF WILSON 'S CREEK.
commanded by Capt. James Totton. The first brigade was com-
manded by Maj. Sturgis.
The second brigade was commanded by Lieut. Col. Geo. L.
Andrews, of the 1st Missouri Vohmtcers (Blair's regiment), and
was composed of the 1st Missouri infantry; Cos. Band E, 2dU.
S. regular infantry, under Capt. Fred Steele; one company of
regular recruits under Lieut. Lothrop; one company (squad) of
mounted recruits under Sergeant Morine, and Lieut. Dubois'
light battery of four})ieces, one a 12-pounder.
The tiiird brigade was commanded by Gen. Sweeney, and wan
comj)osed of tlie 1st Iowa volunteers, under Lieut. Col. Merritt,
the colonel, J. F. Bates, being sick in Springfield; the 1st Kan-
sas, under Col. Geo. W. Deitzler ; the 2d Kansas, under Col.
Mitchell, and about 200 mounted Dade county home guards, un-
der Capt. Clark Wright and Capt. T. A. Switzler.
Gen. Sigel's command consisted of eight companies of the 3d
Missouri volunteers (Sigel's regiment), under Lieut. Col. Albert;
nine companies of the 5th ^lissouri, under Col. Salomon ; one
company, 1st regular cavalry, under Capt. Carr ; one company,
C, of the 2d U. S. dragoons, under Lieut. Farrand, and six
pieces of light artillery manned by details from the infantry re-
cruits under Lieuts. Schacffer and Schuetzenbach.
THE MAKCII BEGUN IIOITE OF GEN. LYON.
At about <> p. M. of Friday evening, the 0th, the movement of
troops began. Gen. Lyon's column went to the westward, on
the Mt. Vernon road, Capt. Gilbert's company of regular in-
fantry having the advance. Li a short time it was dark, but the
march was continued. Although the march was intended to result
in a surprise, and, it was expected, would be conducted silently, yet
there was a great deal of noise made. The lev, a and Kansas
volunteers were disposed to exercise their vocal organs, and camp
songs of all sorts were sung con spii-ifo, along the march. The
Ist Iowa had a favorite song, the burden of which ran : —
So let the wide world wag as it will,
We'll be gay and happy still.
Gay and happy, gay and happy,
We'll be gay and happy still.
BATTLE OF WILSON'S CREEK. 29
The str.ains of this song were wafted out over the prairia, loud
enough, it would have seemed, to have been heard by McCul-
loch's pickets, if any were out. The Kansas men sang the
*' Happy Land of Canaan," and raised the neighborhood with
their vocal efforts. Toward midnight, however, the line became
more quiet, by Gen. Lyon's orders. The latter had remarked
during the march that the Iowa troops had too much levity in
their composition to do good fighting, but added that he would
give them an opportunity to sho»v what they were made of. It
so turned out that the general was mistaken in his estimate of
the fighting qualities of the Hawkeyes.
Lyon marched west from Springfield on the Mt. Vernon road,
about five miles, or a little east of where the town of Brooklyn
now stands, when he turned south, and made his way over neigh-
boring roads and across prairies as best he could nearly six miles,
when he reached a point v/ithin striking distance of Price's Mis-
sourians. The center of the camp of the Southerners was about
six miles west, and about seven miles south of the i)ublic square
of Springfield. Gen. Lyon had for guides Pleasant Hart, Par-
ker Cox, and other men. Nearly twenty men have come for-
ward to claim this distinction.
It was 1 o'clock in the morning when the advance discovered
the camp-fires of the Missourians. The command was then
halted, and the ground reconnoitcred as well as possible until
the dawn of day, when it again movtd forward and formed a
battle line, moving a little southeast so as to strike the extreme
northern point of the enemy's camp.
COL. sigel's advance.
Sigel left " Camp Fremont," on the south side of Springfield,
at about G:30, p. m., taking at first the ''wire" road, or road
to Cassville and Fayetteville, along which the telegraph wire ran.
About four miles southwest of town, the command left the main
Cassville road, which led directly ihrough McCulloch's camp, and
bore south, and then along a road parallel with the Cassville road,
and in the same general direction, until below the Christian
couiity line. Col. Sigel had for guides, C. B. Owen, John Steele,
30 RATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK.
Andrew Adams, Sam (or Jo.) Carthal and L. A. D. Crenshaw.
Sigel's column marched perhaps twelve or thirteen miles, passing
clear around the extreme southeastern camp of the enemy, and
arriving at daylight within a mile of the main camp. Taking
forward the two cavalry companies of Carr and Farrand, Col.
Sigel contrived to cut off about forty men of McCuIloch's
troops, who had gone out early to forage, and were engaged in
digging potatoes, picking roasting enrs, gathering tomatoes and
procuring other supplies for their individual commissary de-
partments. These ca})tures were made in such a manner that no
news of the Federal advance from this quarter was brought into
the Confederate camp. Moving cautiously up, Sigel planted four
pieces of his artillery on a little hill, in plain view of the Con-
federate tents, which spread out to his front and right. The two
regiments of infantry advanced so as to command the Fayettc-
ville road at the point where it crosses Wilson's creek, while the
two companies of cavalry guarded the flanks. In this position
the command rested, awaiting the sound of Lyon's gun as a sig-
nal to open the ball. The prisoners were left in charge of Capt.
Flagg, with his company (K) of the 5th Missouri.
In conforniity to the plan agreed upon between the Federal
commanders, Sigel disposed his troops so as to command the
Fayetteville road, and prevent the Confederates from retreating
by that thoroughfare. It is claimed by officers of both armies
that, had an avenue of retreat been left open, it is highly proba-
ble that the result of the day's battle would have been different.
Lyon had left behind him the Greene and Christian County
Home Guards to take care of Springfield, directing the officers in
command to watch the Fayetteville road below where Sigel turned
off, and send word to him across the country, should the Con-
federates be found approaching from that quarter. This is a cir-
cumstance corroborative of the theory that Lyon knew that the
Confederates meditated a night attack on him (as they did) or
believed that such was a fact. Everything in Springfield had
been gotten ready for a retreat. Wagons were leaded, and the
funds of the bank were secured for transfer, and were being
guarded by the Home Guards. The citizens were in quite a state,
to be sure.
BATTLE OF WILSON* S CREEK. 31
LYONS OPENS THE BATTLE.
In describing the battle of Wilson's Creek in this history,
which, it is believed, contains the only fully elaborate and accu-
rate account ever published, of that memorable contest, it is
proper to do so in detail. The statements herein made have been
derived from the official reports of commanders, and from the
fairest accounts of actual participants. Care has been taken to
discard all reports which are highly colored, sensational, not cor-
roborated by undisputed facts, and savoring of the im})robable.
Both Federal and Confederate accounts of this character have
been rejected. The Federal accounts believed to be the most
reliable are those furnished by Maj. (General) Sturgis, Lieut.
Col. Merritt of the 1st Iowa; Lieut. Col. Blair and Maj. Cloud,
of the 2d Kansas ; Maj. J.-M. Schofield, then of the 1st Missouri ;
Capt. Totten and Lieut. Dubois of the artillery, and Capt. Steele
of the regulars ; Capt. Wright of the Home Guards, all of Lyon's
column ; and Gen. Sigel, Dr. S.II. Mclcher, the guides, and Capt.
Carr, of Sigcl's column. The Confederate or Southern accounts
relied upon, are the official reports of Gens. Price, McCullOch,
Pearce, Clark, Rains, McBride and Parsons ; reports of Col. John
T. Huirhcs,of Slack's division, and Col. John R. Graves, of Rains'
division ; letters from Col. Thos. L. Snead, Asst. Adj. Gen. of Gen.
Price, and Lieut. W. P. Barlow, of Guibor's battery; reports
of and letters from Col. T. J. Churchill, 1st Arkansas Mounted
Riflemen; Col. James Mcintosh, nnd Lieut. Col. B. T. Embry,
2d Arkansas Mounted Riflemen; Lieut. Col. D. McRae, of
McRae's battalion, Arkansas Volunteers; Col. Lewis Hebert,.
Lieut. Col. S. M. Hyams and Maj. W. F. Tunnard, 3d Louisiana
Volunteers; Col. E. Greer, South Kansas-Texas Regiment Cav-
alry; Capt. J. G. Reid, of Reid's Arkansas Battery; Col. John
R. Gratiot, 3d Arkansas; Col. J. D. Walker, 4th Arkansas; Col.
Tom P. Dockery, 5th Arkansas Iiifantry ; Col. Do Rosey Carroll,
1st Arkansas Cavalry, and other commissioned officers, and many
private soldiers and a few citizens.
Maj. Sturgis, who assumed command of Lyon's column after
the battle, states that at daylight, Lyon's battle line was formed.
32 BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK.
the infantry in front, closely followed by Totten's battery, which
was sup))orted by a reserve. In this order the line advanced but
a few hundred }'ards, when the tirst outpost of Price's men was
encounteied. Firing was commenced instantly, and the outpost
hurriedly retreated. This was the advance of Rains' division.
The Federal line then halted, and Capt. Plummcr's battalion of
regulars, with the Dade County Home Guards on his left, was
sent to the east across "Wilson's creek, and ordered to move
toward the front, keeping pace with the advance on the Federal
left. The main line then swept forward, and after crossing a
considerable ravine and ascending a high ridge, a full view of a
line of Kains' skirmishers was had. Maj. Osterhaus' two compa-
nies of the 2d Missouri, and two companies of the 1st Missouri,
under Capts. Yates and John S. Cavcnder, were deployed to the
left, all as skirmishers. Firing between the two skirmish lines
now became very severe, and Totten's battery, then in position,
opened with shell, and the boom of the cannon and the crashing
of the bombs added to the excitement.*
The 1st Missouri, Col. Andrews, and the 1st Kansas, Col.
Dietzler, were now hastily moved to the front, supported by
Totten's battery; the 2d Kansas, Col. Mitchell, Steele's bat-
talion, and Dubois' battery, were held in reserve. The 1st
Missouri took its position in front, upon the crest of a small
elevated plateau. The 1st Kansas went to the left of the 1st
Missouri, while Totten's battery was placed opposite the interval
between the two regiments. Osterhaus' two companies occu-
pied the extreme right, with their right resting on a ravine,
which turned abruptly to the right and rear. Dubois' battery,
supported by Steele's ])attalion, was placed seventy-five yards
to the loft and rear of Totten's guns, so as to bear upon a well-
served Confederate battery (believed to have been Capt. "Wood-
ruff's "Pulaski Artillery," of Arkansas), which had come into
position to the left and front on the opposite side of "Wilson
* It must be borne in mind that the Confederate line extended In a general di- ^
ruction from the north to the south aiong Wilson's Creek ; that Lyon attacked
tlie northern end from the west and northwest, while Sigel was stationed at the
southern cud, over a mile away.
BATTLE OF WILSON* 8 CREEK. 33
Creek, and was sweeping with canister the entire plateau upon
which the Federals were posted.
The Missourians now rallied in considerable force under cover
at the foot of the slope and along it in front and opposite the
Federal right, toward the crest of the main ridge running par-
allel to the creek. During this time Plummer's battalion had
advanced along the ridge about 500 yards to the left of the
main Federal position, and had reached the terminus of this
ridge, when he found his further progress arrested by a force
of infantry (a portion of McCulloch's division), which was
occupying a cornfield (Mr. Kay's) in the valley. At this mo-
ment the " bang" of a cannon was heard more than a mile to
the south, at about the point where Sigel was supposed to be.
This lire was apparently answered from the opposite side of the
valley, at a still greater distance, the line of fire of the two
batteries being apparently east and west, and nearly perpen-
dicular to Totten's and Dubois' batteries. After about ten or
twelve shots this firing ceased, and nothing more was heard
of Sigel until about 8: 30, when a brisk cannonading was heard
for a few minutes, about a mile to the right of that heard before,
and still further to the rear.
Early in the engagement the 1st Iowa had been brought up
from the reserve to the front, and immediately became hotly
en<Taged, doing good fighting and winning the praise of Gen.
Lyon, who thought at one time that men who sang rollicking
songs would not fight well.
The entire Federal line was now successfully advanced with
nuich energy, and apparently with every prospect of success.
The firing, which had been spirted for half an hour, now
increased to a continuous roar, heard miles away — in Spring
field, plainly. Capt. Totten's battery came into action by sec-
tion and by piece, as the nature of the ground would admit,
it being wooded, with much black-jack undergrowth, and played
vio-orously upon the Confederate lines with considerable effect.
More desperate fighting was not done during the civil war.
The men of the West were fighting. For fully half an hour the
armies fought over the hill before described — ♦♦ Bloody Hill,**
34 HATTLK OF >VILSOX's CUEKK.
it was aftcrwanl called. The 1st Kansas gave way aiul went to
tho rear, hut the 1st Iowa |)roini)tly took its place, and the fight-
ing went on. Back and forth over the ground tiic}' went. Now
the Union troops fell hack a few yards, then advanced again and
drove the secession trooj)s a short distance, then the latter
advanced, and so it was for half .an hour. At last the Fedeials
were left in possession of the ground for a' short time, the Con-
federates fallinjr hack and refoi'ininjx.
Meantime Plunnner's hattalion on the Federal left had encoun-
tered ^Iclntosh's regiment of Arkansas riflemen, and Ilebert's
3d Louisiana regiment, in Ray's cornfield and been driven hack
with considerable loss. The Arkansas and Louisiana refjimeuts
both belonged to McCulloch's army. They would have anni-
hilate<l IMummer almost, but just as they were })reparing to do
so Dubois' battci-y opened with shells, filling the cornfield full
of them, and making it untenable for any troops, and the two
regiments retreated in some disorder. Steele's battalion was
sup])orting Dubois' battery on this occasion. Plummer was
Just now there was a momentary cessation of firing, the
advantage being with the Federals, and it became apparent that
some of the Southerners desired to retreat, but they soon learned
that they were i)ractically surrounded, for there was no road to
the east or the west, and the only outlet from their position, the
Fayetteville road, was held by Sigel. The only way therefore
to get out was to fight out. Quite a number of the iNIissourians
were in confusion. Their horses were frightened and became
uncontrollable, and the men galloped about aimlessly, and wildly.
Some of them got away from the battle field and rode away to
Cassville panic-stricken and reporting that Gen. Price's army
had been " all cut to pieces " by an overwhelming force of
Federals ! The greater portion of Lyon's line was quiet for a
time, and some thought the victory had been won.
Along the right of the Federal line, however, the 1st Missouri
was hotly engaged with McBride's division of Missourians and
was about to be overcome. Lyon hurried the 2d Kansas to its
relief and saived it. During the temporary lull in the firing the
IJATTLK OF AVILSON's CREEK. 35
Federal line was reforined urder tiie direction of Lyon himself.
Steele's l>attalion, wiiieli had been sui)poiting Dubois' guns, was
brought forward to the su})i)ort of Totten's, and j)rej)arations
were made to withstand anotiier attack, which, as could be
ascertained l)y the shouts of the enemy's officers, plainly audible,
was beinjj orjjanized.
Scarcely had Lyon disponed his men to receive the attack when
his enemy again ap|)carcd with a very large force along his entire
front and movinj; toward his Hanks as well. At once the tirin^j
again began and for a time was inconceivably fierce along the
entire line. The Confederates were in three lines in so7)ie place.t
the front line lying down, the second kneeling, the third line
standing, and all the lines and every man loading and firing as
rapidly as possible. Every available Federal battalion was now
brought into action, and the battle raged with great fury for an
hour, the settles seeming all the time nearly equally balanced,
sometimes the Federal troops and then the Confederates gaining
jjround and then losinjj it, while all of the time some of the best
blood in the land was being spilled as recklessly as if it were
How they did fight, these men of both armies ! — fought until
their gun-barrels became so hot they could scarcely hold them —
fought when their leaders fell and without commands — fouijht
when the blood and brains of their comrads were spattered into
their faces — fought, many of them, until they died. By and
by, as the Confederate fire never slackened, but was constantly
increased by the arrival of reinforcements, and as some of the
Federals reported that their cartridges had given out, detachments
of the latter began to give way, and Gen. Sweeney and Gen.
Lyon were engaged from time to time in bringing them back into
DEATH OF GEN. LYON.
Early in this engagement, while Gen. Lyon was walking j»nd
leading his horse along the line on the left of Totten's batterj',
his horse, the iron gray, was killed and he was wounded iu two
places, in the head and in the leg. Captain Herron, of the 1st
36 BATTLE OF WILSON's CHEEK.
Iowa,* states that he saw the horse fall, and that the animal sank
down as if vitally struck, neither plunn^ing nor rearing. Lyon
then walked (»n, waving his sword and hallooing. He was linip-
injr for he had been wounded in the leg. He carried his hat, a
drah felt, in his hand and looked white and dazed. Suddenly
blood appeared on the side of his iiead and began to run down
hi.s cheek. lie stood a moment and then walked slowly to the
rear. Capt. Ilerron states that he was within twenty feet of
Lyon when this happened, near enough to observe that he was
wearing his old uniform, that of captain in the regular army.
When he reached a position a little in the rear Lyon sat down
and an officer bound a handkerchief about liis wounded head.
lie remarked despondingly to Maj. Schofield, of Blair's regi-
ment, one of his staff. "It is as I expected; I am afraid the
day is lost." The Major replied : " O, no. General ; let us try
once more." Major 8turgis then dismounted one of his own
orderlies and offered the horse to Lyon, who at first declined the
animal, saying: " I do not need a horse." lie then stood up
and ordered Sturgis to rally a portion of the 1st Iowa which had
broken. Sturgis, in executing this order, went to some distance
from his general. The 1st Iowa was being ordered forward by a
staff officer, when some of the men called out, *' "We have no
leader," " Give us a leader, then," etc. Lyon immediately
asked to be helped on the orderly's horse. As he straightened
himself in the saddle the blood was dripping off his heel from
his wounded leg. Gen. Sweeney rode up and Lyon spoke quickly
to him, " Sweeney, lead those troops forward (indicating the 1st
Iowa) and we will make one more charge."
Then, swinging his hat, Lyon called out to the 2d Kansas
regiment, '* Come on, my brave boys, (or "my bully boys," as
some say), I will lead you; forward I " He had gone but a few
yards when he was shot through the body. One of his orderlies,
a private named Ed. Lehman, of Co. B, 1st U. S. cavalry,
caught him in his arms and lowered him to the ground. With
the breath still feeling at his lips, and his great heart throbbing
and striking his own death-knell, the dying chieftain gasped,
* Afterward Major General and in command of this department.
BATTLK OF WILSON's CHKKK. 37
♦' Lcliman, I'm goin*;," and so passed away his spirit through
the battle-clouds to the realms where is everlasting peace. The
place where Lyon fell was afterward called " Bloody Point."
A heap of stones marks the spot to this day. Lyon's body was
borne to the rear by Lieut. Schreyer, of Capt. Tholen's company
of the 2d Kansas, assisted by Lehman and another soldier.
STILL THE BATTLE (JOES ON.
In the meantime the disordered Federal line was rallied and
reformed. The Lst Iowa took its place in the front, and Major
Sturgis says, "fought like old veterans." The Kansans and the
Missourians were also doing well, and the Confederates were
driven back, only to come again. The situation of the Federals
was now desperate. The commander, Gen. Lyon, was killed;
Gen. Sweeney was wounded. Col. Deitzler, of the 1st Kansas,
lay with two bullets in his body ; Col. Mitcholi, of the 2d Kansas,
by the same lire that killed Lyon, was severely wounded (it was
thought at first mortally) and as he was borne from the field
called to an officer of Maj. Sturgis' staff, *' For God's sake suj)-
port my regiment;" Col. Andrews, of the 1st Missoun, and
Col. Mcrritt, of the 1st Iowa, were wounded; and thus it was
that all of the regimental commanders of Lyon's column were
wounded. Still the battle went on.
THE LAST GKAND CHARGE OF PHICE's MEN.
The great questions in the minds of Sturgis and Sweeney and
the other Federal oflScers, who had been informed of the plan of
attack agreed upon were, *' Where is Sigel? Why doesn't he
co-operate? " Although it seemed as if there must be a retreat
should the Southerners make another vigorous charge, yet if
Sigel should come up with his near 1,000 men, and make an
attack on Price's right fiank and. rear, then the Federals could
go forward with strong hopes of success. If Sigel had been
whipped, however, there was nothing left but to retreat.
Maj. Schofield, Lyon's chief of staff, rode to Sturgis and
informed him that Lyon was" killed and Sigel could not be heard
from, and moreover, that the ammunition was about exhausted,
38 BATTLE OF WILSON's CUKEK.
sonic of the troops being entirely out. Stingis thereupon
as.sunied coniniand — although only a major at the time. lie at
once summoned the principal officers left and consulted with
them. All agreed that unless Sigel niadc his ai)i>carance very
soon there was nothing left but to retreat, if indeed retreat were
The consultation was brought to a close by the advance of a
heavy column of infantry from towards the hill where Sigel's
battery had been heard at the beginning of the struggle. These
troops carried flags which, drooping about the staffs, much
resembled the stars and stripes, and Sturgis and Schofield say
the troops had the appearance of Sigel's. A staff officer in front
of where the consultation was <;oino;on rode back and called out
delightedly " Yonder co))ies Sigel! Yonder conirs iSigdl^' and
the officers departed, each to his command to arrange for the
expected change in the programme.
On came the moving mass in Sturfjis' front, the soldiers cool
and steady as grenadiers. Down the hill across the hollow in
front they swept and took position along the foot of the ridge on
which the Federals were posted. And now, " they are rebels ! "
Avas heard from the more advanced of the Kansans and lowans.
Suddenly a battery (Guibor's) which had followed the line and
had reached the hill in front of " Bloody Hill," wheeled about,
unlimbered and the command '■'■Fire!'" ranjj out and the mins
belched forth shrapnel and canister before the trail pieces had
hardly touched the ground. The infantry at the foot of the hill,
now began firing and slowly ascending the hill, and at once com-
menced the fiercest and most bloody struggle of all that bloody
Lieut. Dubois' battery, on the Federal left supported by Oster-
haus' two companies and t!ie rallied fragments of the Missouri
1st, opened on the new battery (Guibor's) and soon checked it.
Totten's battery, still in the Federal center, supported by the
lowans and regulars, seemed to be the main point of the Con-
The Missourians frequently came up within twenty feet of the
muzzlf 3 of Totten's guns and received their charges of canister
BATTLE OF VVILSON's CREEK. 39
full in their faces, and the two clouds of battle smoke min^jled
until they seemed as one.
For the first time during the day the Federal line never
wavered and the Confederate line never tlinched. At one time
Capt. Steele's battalion, Avhich was some yards in front, together
with the left flanks, was in dansrer of beinjj overwhelmed and
captured, the contending lines standing so close that the muzzles
of their guns almost touched. Capt. Granger, of Sturgis' staff,
ran to the rear and brought uj) the supports of Dubois' battery,
consisting of Osterhaus' battalion, detachment, of the 1st
Missouri, 1st Kansas, and two companies of the 1st Iowa, in
quick time, and took position on the left flank, and poured in a
heavy volley upon the Confederates, which was so nmrderous
and destructive that that portion of the line gave way. Capts.
1 ;vtrick E. Burke and Madison Miller, and Adjutant Iliscock, of
the Is^ Missouri, were especially mentioned for gallantry in this
The entire Confederate line now fell back a short distance and
began again forming. Sturgis took advantage of this lull in the
storm to make good his retreat. Perceiving that Totten's
battery and Steele's battalion were entirely safe, for the present,
and directing Capt. Totten to replace his disabled horses as soon
as possible, Sturgis sent Dubois' battery to the rear with its
supports to take up a position on the hill in the rear and cover
the retreat. The 2d Kansas, on the extreme right, having been
nearly out of ammunition for some time, was ordered to with-
draw, which it did bringing off its wounded. This, however, left
the Federal right flank exposed, and the Missourians at that
point, to the number of 100 or more, advanced at once ; they were
driven back, however, by Steele's battalion of regulars and
joined the main force reforming in the rear.
Maj. Sturgis gave the order to retreat as soon as his enemy
had fallen back and enabled him to do so. Totten's battery, as
soon as his disabled horses could be replaced, retired with the
main body of the infantry, while Capt. Steele met the feeble
demonstations of a few plucky Missouri skirmishers who had not
BATTLE or Wilson's crkek.
fallen back with tlic main line and were picking away at the
Federal right flank. The whole Federal colunm now moved
unn)olostcd and in tolerable order to the high open prairie east
of Ross' spring and about two miles from the battle ground.
The artillery and the ambulances, were brought off in safety.
After making a short halt on the i)rairie the retreat was continued
to Springfield over substantially the same route taken to the
Just after the order to retire had been given, and while Sturiris
was undecided whether to retreat from the field entirely or take
up another position, one of Sigel's non-commissioned officers
(Scrgt Friclich) arrived on a foam-covered horse and reported
that Col. Sigel's brigade had been totally routed, his artillery
captured, and the colonel himself either killed or taken prisoner.
On reaching the Little York road Sturgis encountered Lieuf.
Farrand, with his comj)any of dragoons, one piece of artillery
and a considerable portion of the 3d and 5th Missouri, all of
Sigel's command, which had made their way across the country
in order to unite with the main command and be saved from
entire destruction. The march was resumed, but the command
did not succeed in reaching Springfield until five o'clock in the
Lyon's column began the attack at about 5 in the morning and
it was half-past 11 when the battle ended ; the main body of the
troops were engaged about six hours.
sigel's PAUT IX THE FIOHT.
It is proper now to consider the part take), by Col. Sigel and
his brigidc in the battle of AVilson's Creek. It has been stated
that he had moved entirely around the southern end of the Con-
federate line of camp, and on a previous page we left him with
his guns "in battery," and his infantry' and cavalry in line
commanding the Fayetteville road, and ready to open fire as
soon as the sound of Lyon's guns could be heard up the valley,
nearly two miles.
At 5: 30, early in the morning, the rattle of musketry was
heard, apparently nearly two miles away, to the northwest.
**Bangf BangI Bang! Bang!'" in rapid succession, went the
BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK. 41
four guns of Lieuts. Scliaeffcr and Schuetzenbach, as they tlis-
charo^ed their contents into and among the tents of McCulloch's
camp. A few more ro\inds and the Confederates abandoned
their tents and retired in haste toward tiie northeast and north-
west. This fighting was done just across the line, in Christian
county, on Sharp's farm, which runs up to the county line, on
which stands Mr. Sharp's house.
McCulloch's troops, infantry and cavalry, soon began to form,
and Sigel brought forward his entire line into and across the
valley, the two companies of cavalry to the right, the artillery
in the center and the infantry on the left. After a period of
irregular firing for about half an hour, the Confederates retired
into the woods and u}) the adjoining hills. The firing toward
the northwest was now more distinct, and it was evident that
Gen. Lyon had engaged the enemy along the whole line. To
give assistance to him — to be able to co-operate with him
if necessary, and to drive the enemy in his own front, Sigel
again advanced, this time toward the northwest, intending to
attack the Confederates in the rear.
Marching forward, Sigel struck the Cassville road, making
his way through a number of cattle and horses, and arriving :\t
an eminence, which had been used as a slaughter-yard by Mc-
Culloch's men. This was on Sharp's farm and near the house.
At and near Sharp's house, on the road, some of McCulioch's
men, who were straggling back from the fight in front, came
unawares on Sigel's men and were taken in. Sigel, after a
brief conference with some of his officers, at once concluded
that Lyon had been successful and was driving the Confederates
before him. Knowing that this was the only avenue of retreat
left open, and imagining that here was a grand opportunity for
stopping it up and bagging several thousanrl *' rebels," the
colonel hurriedly formed his troops across the road, planting the
ai-tillery in the center oh the plateau, and a regiment of infantry,
and a company of cavalry on either flank, and awaited the coming
of what seemed to him to be the vanquished Confederates, large
numbers of whom could be seen moving toward the south along
the ridge of a hill about 700 yards opposite the right of the
42 BATTLE OF WILSON'S CREKK.
It was now about half-i)ast oiglit o'clock, and the firing in the
northwest, where Lyon was supposed to be, and where he really
was tiHitinjr, had almost entirely ceased. At this instant, Dr.
c>. II. Melcher, the assistant surgeon of Salomon's regiment,
and some of the skirmishers came back from the front, where
desultory tiring had been going on, and reported that Lyon's
men were coming up the road, for they could be seen plainly,
and the gra^'-coated Iowa regiment plainly distinguished. At
once, Lieut. Col. Albert, of the 3d Missouri, and Col. Salomon,
of the oth, notitied their regiments not to fire on the troops
coming in this direction, for they were friends, and Sigel him-
self gave the same caution to the artillery.
I'^verybody was surprised at this unexpected turn of affairs,
and the Cxermans of Sigel's and Salmon's regiments began jab-
bcrin"- away delightedly, and the color-bearers were beckoning
with their tlags to the advancing hosts to " come on "-- when,
all at once, two batteries of artillery, one on the Fayettevillc
road and one on the hill where it was supposed Lyon's men were
in ])ursuit of the tlying Confederates, opened with cannister,
shell and shrapnel, while the gray-coated troops, supposed to be
the lowans, advanced from the Fayettevillc road and attacked
the Federal right, and a battalion of cavalry made its appea)-
ance, api)arently ready and waiting to charge !
The jabbering of the (ierman soldiers was now something won-
derful, but it had a different tone fi-om that of a few minutes
previously ! It is impossible to describe the consternation and
frightful confusion that resulted. So surprised and frightened
were the soldiers that they could not understand these were Con-
federates Avho were tiring tipon them and coming rapidly for-
ward to sweep them from the face of the earth. They hurried
and skurried about crying, some in English: "It is Totten's
battery ! " others in German : " Sie haben gegen mis geschossen!
Sie irrten sich!" (They are tiring against us! They make a
mistake!) And then making no effort to fight worthy of the
name, they began to retreat.
The artillerymen, all of whom were recruits from the infantry,
who had seen but little service of any kind, could hardly be
brought forward to serve their pieces, although directed by Sigel
BATTLE OF WILSOn's CREEK. 43
himself ; the infantry would not level their <xiins until it was too
late; indeed, they could not be made to stop running, let alone
to turn and fight. Salomon cursed in German, in English, in
French. Sigel threatened and bullied and coaxed. No use. As
well try to stop a herd of stampeded buffaloes. Lieut. Farrand,
with his company of cavalry brought off one piece of artillery
which had not been unlimbered and put in position, and away it
went the wheels bouncing two feet from the ground and the pos-
tilions lashing their horses like race riders,
On came McCulloch's and Price's men, the Louisiana re^i-
ment of Col. Hebert (pronounced Ilebare) which had been
mistakes for the 1st Iowa because of it's pretty steel gray uni-
form, was in front, and following them were the Arkansas rejxi-
ments of Dockerv and (iratiot, the r)th and 3d, Greer's regiment
of Texas cavalry, Lieut. Col. Major's Howard and Chariton
county battalion, Johnson's battalion mounted Missourians, and
some other detachments. Up to the very muzzles of the cannons
they came, killing the artillery horses and what artillerymen were
reckless enough to remain, firing faiily into the faccd of the
panicky Teutons and forcing them to throw themselves into the
bushes, into by-roads, anywhere to escape and scamper away as
fast as their legs could carry them. The color-bearer of Sigel's
own regiment was badly wounded ; his substitute was killed, and
the i\iig itself was captured by Capt. Tom Staples, a ]Missourian,
of Arrow Kock, Saline county.
When the plateau was reached, the cannon captured and the field
gained, the infantry stopped and cheered, Reid's and Bledsoe's
batteries fired parting salutes into the Hying blue-coats, and then,
leaving the cavalry to pui'sue, both infantry and artillery turned
about and went up to the other end of the valley to assist their
brethren in that quarter, and to participate in the final triumph
of the day.
Away went the Germans, down to the south into Christian
county, throwing away guns, cartridge boxes, even canteens, —
everything that hindered rapid flight, — wandering about and hid-
ing when they could with the Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri cav-
alry leaping upon them incessantly and slaying them wherever
they made the least show of resistance. At Nowlan's mill, on
44 BATTLE OF WILSOxX's CHEEK.
the James, three miles from the battle-ground, it was told that
four fugitives skulUod under the mil!-dam and, refusing to come
out, were riddled with buckshot.
The next day men hiy scattered all over the country, wounded
or dead ; and yet Sigel lost but comparatively few killed. Pris-
oners were taken in great numbers — rundown by the Texas
rangers and driven in like Hocks of sheep, as timid now and as
harndess. Sigel himself got panicky after awhile and fled for
Springfield, across tiie countr}', accompanied by only two guards,
iriving rise to the wicked stanza of the sone: sunj; in the Confed-
crate camps after the battle, concerning the battle of Wilson
Creek, — how,
Old Sigel fousjht 8ome on thiit diiy,
But lost his army in the fra y ;
Then off to Springfield he did run,
With two Dutch jjuards, and nary gun.
At Mrs. Chambers' house, four miles south of Sprinfield, Col.
Sigel and his two guards halted and procured a drink of water,
and then rode away to Springfield, as rapidly as their jaded horses
could carry them. Sigel himself arrived at Spiingfield with but
Oidy the cavalry under Carr and Farrand, the one piece of
artillery, two caissons and about 150 infantry came off in any-
thinjr like order, and these followed down the wire road some
miles to the west and then turned off due north and united with
Sturgis' column, near the Little York road. Only four pieces
of artillery were captured at the time of the charge on the hill,
for those were all that were in position. The two others were in
the rear. In attempting to get one of them away a wheel horse
was killed, and the drivers al)andoned the gun, after first spiking
it as best they could. The gun that was saved was first aban-
doned out on the Fayetteville road, and hauled off at first by
hand a short distance, Capt. Flagg employing the prisoners and
soldiers as artillery horses.
Concerning the retreat of that portion of Sigel's force
which went to the westward, Lieut. Chas. E. Farrand (then of
the Second Regular Infantry) commanding the company of cav-
alry before mentioned, writes: —
BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK. 45
Upon finding myself with ray company alone, I retired in a
southerly direction, and accidentally meeting one of the guides
(Mr. Crenshaw), who had been em.ploycd in taking us to the ene-
my's camp, I forcibly detained him until I could collect some of
the troops, whom I found scattered and apparently lost. I
halted my company and got quite a number together, and di-
rected the guide to proceed to Springfield, via Little York.
After proceeding a short distance, we came upon one of the
pieces which had been taken from Col. Sigel. Although the
tongue of the limber was broken, one horse gone, and one of the
remaining three badly wounded, we succeeded in moving it on.
Some distance in advance of this we found a caisson, also be-
longing to Col. Sigel's battery. I then had with me Sorgt.
Bradburn, of company D, Ist cavalry, and Corporal Lewis and
Private Smith, of my own company (C, 2d dragoons). My
company being some distance in advance, I caused the caisson to
be opened, and on discovering that it was full of ammunition, I
determined to take it on. I and the three men with me tried
to prevail u})on some of the Germans to assist us in clear-
ing some of the wounded horses from the harness, but
they would not stop. After considerable trouble, my small
party succeeded in clearing the wounded horses from the
harness, hitching in two more and a pair of small mules I
obtained, and moved on. Corporal Lewis and Private Smith
driving, while Scrgt. Bradburn and I led the horses. After
reaching the retreating troops again I put two other men on the
animals, and joined my company with my three men. Before
reaching Springfield il became necessary to abandon the caisson,*
in order to hitch the animals to the piece. This was done af*er
destroying the ammunition it contained. Lieut. Morris, adju-
tant to Col. Sigel's command, assisted me in procuring wagons,
which we sent back on the road after the wounded.
The route of retreat taken by Lieut. Farrand and Capt. Flagg,
and the fragments of Sigel's command, 400 in all, was down the
wire road a short distance, and then north to the Mt. Vernon
road. While marching northward this body of disordered men
was only within two or three miles of the entire Southern army
for three or four hours. Why Generals Price and MeCulloch
did not send out a small force of mounted men and take prisoner
every man, which could very easily have been done, is inexcusa-
* Which was done near Mr. Robinson'i.
40 HATTLK OK Wilson's cuef.k.
DK. S. H. MKLCn?:il's ACCOLNT.
Mention has been made of Dr. Samuel II. Melcher, who as as-
sistant sui'ireon of Col. Salomon's ath Missouri (Di'. E. C. frank-
lin, beinjTj surgeon), was present at the battle of Wilson's Creek
with Sigel's command. To the writer hereof Dr. Melcher, now of
Chicago, sends his recollections of tlie events of the memorable
contest. After narrating the preliminary movements of Sigel,
substantially as heretofore give, Dr. Melcher says: —
* * * Gen. Sigel soon gave the order to tire, which was
responded to with rapidity, but our guns being on an elevation,
and the Confederates being in a Held which sloped toward the
creek, the shots passed over their heads, creating a stamped
but doing little, if any, damage to life or limb. In vain I and
others urged the artillerymen to de})ress the guns. Either from
inability to understand English, or, in the excitement, thinking
it was only necessary to load and tire, they kept banging away
till the whole camp was deserted. * * * The command then
moved on till it reached the Fayetteville road and Shari)'s house.
While the command was taking jmsition, I with my orderly,
Frank Ackoff, ath Missouri, went into the abandoned Arkansas
camp where I found a good breakfast of coffee, biscuit and
fried green corn. • * « Most of the tents were oj)en — a
nuisket with tixed bayonet being forced into the ground, but up,
and the tlaj) of the tent held open by being caught in the tlijit
lock. At that time, besides a few Confederate sick, there were
in the camp Lieut. Chas. E. Farrand, in conmiand of the
<lrairoons, and his orderly. Half an hour later, some strafrjrlin"-
parties from the 3d and 5th Missouri, set tire to some wagons
and camp equipage.
* * * The four guns were in the front, supported by the
3d Missouri, with the cavalry and dragoons on the left in the
timber. The oth Missouri was in reserve, except Co. K, Capt.
Sam'l A. Flagg, which was further in the rear, guarding some
thirty or forty prisoners. <At this time, scattering shots were
heard at some distance in our front, but no heavy firing. Armed
men, mostly mounted, were seen moving on our right in the edge
of the timber. * * •
It was smoky, and objects at a distance could not be seen very
distinctly. Being at some distance in front of the command, I
saw a body of men moving do v/n the valley toward us, from the
direction we last heard Gen. Lyon's guns. I rode back, and re-
ported to Gen. Sigel that troops were coming, saying to him,
BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK. * 47
" Thoy look like the 1st IMissouri." [lowu?] They f.('emod
moving in ;i column. * * * jjy ^Jijg time, Sigol could sec
them. Not seeing their colors, I suggested to Sigel that he hail
better show his, so that if it wns our men they might not mis-
take us — Sigel's brigade not being in regulation uniform, (ien.
Sigel turned and said; •' Color-bearer, advance with your colors,
and wave them — wave them three times." As this order was
being obeyed, Lieut. Farrand, with his orderly, arrived from
the Arkansas camp, each l)earing a re})el guidon, which they had
found, and with which they rode from the right of the line, near
Sharp's bouse, directly in front of the color-bearer of Sigel's
rcixiiuent. Then there was music in the air? A battery we
could not see oi)ened with grape, making a great deal of noise
as the shot struck the fence and trees, but not doing much dam-
age, as far as observed, except to scare the men, who hunted for
cover like a flock of young partridges, suddenly disturbed. The
confusion was very great, many of the men saying, "It is Tof-
ten's battery ! It is Totten\s battery !" The impression seemed
to be general that Totten was firing into us, after seeing the rebel
jruidons of Farrand, as it was the common understandin^r that
the Confederates had no grape, and these were grape shot, cer-
Gen. Sigel wojy evidently thoughtof retreat, as the only words
I heard from him were, " "Where's my guides?" [Instances of
individual .cowardice among Sigel's officers are here given.] I
assisted Lieut. P^mile Thomas (now of St. Louis), the only offi-
cer of his company that had the grit to stay, to reform the men.
I do not know if we could have succeeded, had not a Confederate
cavalry battalion suddenly appeared in our front, on the line of
retreat. For a moment the two commands gazed upon each
other, and then came a terrible rattle of musketry, and a great
hubbub and confusion in the direction of Sigel's command,
which was just around a bend in the road to our rear.
In a twinkling, men, horses, wagons, guns, all enveloped in a
cloud of dust, rushed toward us, and in spite of Lieut. Thomas's
utmost efforts. Company F started with all speed down the Fay-
ettevillc road toward the Confederate cavalry. The latter, seem-
ing to think that they were being charged upon, wheeled and got
out of the way very quickly I The bulk of Gen. Sigel's com-
mand turned to the east and were followed by a Confederate
command, that captured one gun at the creek, many prisoners,
* It was not Totten's battery, but Reid's Confederate battery, from Ft. Smith,
Ark. It wa:» well supplied with ^rape from the Little Bock arsenal. — Cuk-
48 BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK.
and left a considerable number of killed and wounded alonjj the
IVrhap:? one-third of the command wont southwest, and halted
at the next house beyond Sharps' on the Fayetteville road, and
here Dr. Smith, who was Gen. Kains' division surgeon, came up,
with a long train of wagons and coaches, and was captured, but
at once released on my intervention. [After this, Dr. Melcher
accompanied Dr. Smith to the battle-Held.] * * * The one
gun that Avas abandoned on the Fayetteville road was really saved
by Capt. Flagg, whose men drew the gun by hand till they found
some horses, and the Confederate prisoners carried the ammuni-
tion in their arms. » » * They came into Springfield the
same evening by way of Little York.
Siffcl's reasons for his defeat nmst here be given. lie states
that he tried to obey his orders to attack the enemy in the rear
and to cutoff his retreat. This he did, but he also cut off his
own retreat very nearly, a circumstance he had not counted upon.
The time of service of one of his two regimen^.s of infantry,
the Ath Missouri, Salomon's, had expired some days before the
battle and they had clamored to go home. On the first of
August he had induced them to remain with the army eight days
nu)re. This latter term had expired the day before the battle.
The njen therefore were under no obligations to fight, 'except that
they had UKirched out to do so, and when the time came, sud-
denly remembered that '* they did not have to fight." The
3d regiment, Sigel's own, was not the old 8d, that fought at
Carthage; that regiment, its time having expired, had been mus-
tered out, and the new regiment was composed of 400 new
recruits and of but a few other men who had seen service. The
men serving the artillery were new recruits who kiicw next to
nothing of gunnery, and Avere commanded by two lieutenants
whose only experience as artillerists had been in the Prussian
army in a time of peace. Again it is stated that only about half
of the companies were officered by men with comriiissions, which
Sigel says, was the fault of the three months' service.
But over all it is claimed that Sigel's complete defeat was the
result of an attack of vastly superior forces, the flower of Mc-
Culloch's army, that was permitted to approach fatally near under
the mistake that they were friends instead of enemies.
BATTLK OF WILSOn's CREEK. 49
As explaining and detailing something of the retreat of that
wine of Jri^el's command whieh turned to the cast, the following
statement of Captain (now General) E. A. Carr, who, as pre-
viously stated, commanded the advance guard of Sigel's brigade,
may be found of interest : —
At about 9 o'clock Capt. Carr received w^ord that Sigel's in-
fantry were in full flight and that lie was to retreat with all
lipste. After galloping aw.ay as best he could for about a mile
and a half to the rear, Carr came upon Sigel at the spring where
the army had halted the flrst night Avhen returning from Dug
Spring some days before. After a brief consultation it was de-
cided to move south on the Fayettevilie road until there was a
chance to go out and circle around the pursuing enemy and then
strike for Springtield. There were then present at the spring
Sigel, Carr, Lieut. -Col. Albert, Carr's 56 cavalry, 200 of
Sigel's badly demoralized infantry, one piece of artillery, and
two caissons. After " retiring" rather hastily for a mile or so
a body of cavalry was observed in front, and Sigel sent Carr up
to see the condition of affairs and report at once. Arriving at
the front Carr discovcre*! that the Confederate cavalry were com-
ing in from the right and forming across the road, to stop the
retreatinir Federals and send them back to the care of McCul-
loch's division again. Reporting at once to Sigel, that officer
directed Carr to turn off at the first right-hand road, which
happened to be near the point where he (Carr) then stood.
Retreating along this road in i brisk walk Sigel asked Carr to
march slowly so that the footmen could keep up. Carr replied
that unless they hurried forward they would be cut off at the
crossing of Wilson's Creek, and that the infantry ought to march
as fast under the circumstances as a horse could walk. Sigel then
said, " Go on, and we will keep up." On arriving at the creek,
however, and looking back, Carr saw that the infantry had not
kept up, but that a large body of Texas and Arkansas cavalry
was moving down and would form an unpleasant junction with
him in a few seconds. ♦♦ To use a Westernism," says Gen. Carr,
** there was no time for fooling then, and as I had waited long
enough on the slow-motioned infantry to water my horses, and
50 BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK.
they were not yet in sight, I lit out for a place of safety which I
.soon reached, and after waiting another while for Sigel, I went
on to Springfield". I was sorry to leave Sigel behind, in the first
place, but I supposed all the time he was close to nie until I
reached the creek, and then it would have done no good for my
company to have remained and been cut to pieces also, as were
Sigel and his men, who were ambuscaded and all broken up, and
Sigel himself narrowly escaped."
BATTLE OF WILSON 'S CKEEK. 51
THE BATTLE OF WILSON'S CREEK. —CoxciADKn.
The Southern Side of the Story — The Part Taken by McCulloch's Army — Pre-
parations for a March on Springfield — A Light Ruin Interferes — The Federal
Attack — A Complete Surprise — McCulloch Thinks it "Another of Rains'
Scares!" — The Fight Against Lyon — Order of Battle — McCulloch Comes
to the Rescue — The Missourians in Battle — Detailed Account of the Fight-
ing — The Beginning of the End — Victory! — No Pursuit of the Retreating
Federals — McCulloch's Destruction of Sigel — After the Famous Victory —
Comparative Strength and Losses of the Two Armies — The Federal Strength —
The Confederate Strength — Price's Army by Divisions — The Federal Loss
by Regiments and Battalions — The Confederate Loss by Divisions — Dispos-
ing of the Dead — The Home Guards at Springfield — The Retreat from
Springfield — Care of the Federal Wounded — The Army Sets out — Hundreds
of Citizens Follov? it — The Confederates Enter Springfield — McCulloch's
Proclamation — Price's Proclamation — Joy and Congratulations.
THE SOUTHERN SIDE OF THE STORY.
As one side, the Northern, or Federal, or Union side, of the
battle of Wilson's Creek has been told it is but proper that the
other, the Southern or Confederate, or secession side, should be
given. The statements herein n^ade have been derived from the
most authentic sources possible to be consulted. The writer re-
turns his sincere thanks to those Confederate officers, scattered
from the Iowa line to the Kio Grande, who have responded to
his request for information so promptly and so fully, and in such
well written letters
THE PART TAKEN BY m'CULLOCH's ARMY.
It will be remembered that Gen. McCulloch had at last yielded
to Gen. Price's persistent and positive demands, and had agreed
to march against Lyon at Springfield on the night of August
9th and attack him on the morning of the 10th. The march
was to be made in four columns and to be begun at 9 o'clock at
Just after dark a light rain fell, and it was very dark and a
52 BATTLE OF WILSON'S CREEK.
heavy rain storm sconiod to he comiiif; up. McCullooli well knew
that many of the '^Missouri troops were not supplied with cart-
ridge l)oxcs, or cartridges cither, and that if they moved out from
under shelter and it rained hard, as it promised to do, their am-
munition would become wet and unserviceable, carried, as much
of it would be, in powdcr-Hasks, cotton sacks and shot-pouches.
There was also danger that in the P2gyptian darkness that had set-
tled down over the land the marching columns would get lost or
bewildered, and not come up to the proper place at the proper
time. Accordingly, just as some of the troops were preparing
to start, McCuUoch countermanded the order to march at that
time, and the army lay down to sleep, holding itself in readiness to
move, however, the men with their guns by their sides. Not much
sleej) was h.-vd, however, for lack of all pro})er accommodations,
and becaust! of the myriads of moscjuitoes on the warpath that
night up and down the "alley of Wilson's creek.
Had Gen. Price been left to himself the day of the 9th, he
would have taken ** my Missouri boys" that night and marched
toward Springfield over the very route that Lyon took from
Springfield to the Confederate camp, via the Mt. Vernon road
and over the prairie, and the two armies. Price's and Lyon's,
would have met, to each other's surprise, about midnight, some-
where near the present site of Dorchester.
In his official report to the Confederate Secretary of "War,
Gen. McCuUoch states that his effective force at the battle of
AVilson's Creek was 5,300 infantry, (?,000 cavalry, and fifteen
pieces of artillery. The majority of the cavalry were armed
only with rifies, revolvers, shot-guns, and old flint-lock muskets.
There were hundreds of other horsemen along with the army,
that were so imperfectly armed as to be of but little efficiency,
and during the battle were only in the way.
THE FEDERAL ATTACK.
Col. T. L. Snead states that on the night of the 9th he sat up
all night at Gen. Price's headquarters, which were on the side
of the creek, at the foot of the sloping, rocky, black-jack hills
on whose summit the main battle was fought. About daybreak
BATTLE OF WILSON's CRKEK. 53
Gen. Price pot iij) in great impatience and sent for McCuUocii,
who soon afterward arrived, accompanied by Col. James Mc-
intosh (of the 2d Arkansas Mounted Kitlenien), his assistant
adjutant-general. " Gen. Price and I were just sitting down to
breakfast," says Col. Snead, " and they sat down Avith us.''
As the officers were eating, a messenger came running up
from the front, Avhcre Gen. Kains' division was j>osted, a mile
or more away, and said that the Yankees were advancing, full
20,000 strong, and were on Rains' line already, peppering his
camp with nuisketry. " O, pshaw," said McCulloch, laughingly,
" that's another of Rains' scares," alluding to the Dug Springs
affair. "Tell Gen. Rains I will come to the front myself
directly," he added. The three officers went on eating, and in
a minute or two anotlier messenger came up and reported that
the Federals were not more than a mile away, and had come
suddenly ujjon Rains' men as they lay on their arms and
had driven them back. McCulloch again said, "O, nonsense I
Tiiat's not true; " but just then Rains' men could be seen
falling back in confusion. Gen. Price rose up and said to Col.
Snead, " Have my horse saddled, and order the troops under
arms at once." lie had hardly spoken when Totten's battery
unlimbered and sent its first shot, and about the same instant
Sigcl's guns opened.
Dispositions for battle were quickly made. Price was ordered
to move at once towards Rains with the rest of the Missourians.
Pearce was ordered to form on Price's left. Very soon Totten's
battery was in plain sight on the top of the hills in front and
pounding away, while Sigcl's guns in the rear plainly gave
notice that the Federals were on all sides.
The surprise was perfect. Most of the Southern troops were
asleep. The few pickets that were out had mostly been called
in to prepare for the early march, and this enabled Lyon to get
close to the line, — upon the skirmishers, in fact, — before
being discovered. The troops hurried out as fast and as best
they could. The majority of Price's Missourians had their
horses with them. Nearly every secessionist, upon enlisting,
wanted to ride and did ride. The idea of walking was dis-
54 BATTLK OF Wir,SON*S CREEK.
tasteful in nwvo \\:\\>i tlian one, — it was laborious, to begin
with, and it was considered somewhat plebeian and disgraceful.
And the horsemen, so many of them, proved a serious disad-
vantage to the Southern cause. They strip})cd the country in
many parts of this State and west of the Mississippi, not only
of provisions but of forage and provender, cumbered the roads,
and often in battU' did more harm than good. At Wilson's
Creek the horses became frightened and unmanageable, and at
one time they and some of their riders came near stampeding
the entire Southern army. Hundreds of them tried to escape
from the field by the Fayctteville road, but found it held by
Sigel and his Germans.
THE FIGHT a(;ainst lvo\.
The Missourians under Rains were first attacked by Lyon.
Rains had his division under arms jpid in line with commendable
promptness. A great many of his men scattered, it is true, but
the majority were soon in I'anks and fighting the enemy. Rains'
division was a large one, including all the men from the popu-
lous secession counties of Saline, Lafayette, Jackson, Johnson,
and Pettis, and it held that j)art of the line in front of Totten's
battery. (Jen. Price instantly ordered the other division com-
manders, — Slack, McBride, Clark and Parsons, — to move their
infantry and artillery rapidly forward to the support of Rains.
Rains' second brigade was in the extreme advance, and consisted
of some 1,200 or 1,.')00 men, mounted and dismounted, tem-
porarily under the command of Col. Cawthorn.
Slack's division of Northwest Missourians was the first to
come up, and under the personal direction of Gen. Price him-
self, who had come to the front, took position on Rains' left,
and became instantly engaged. In a few minutes afterwards
came John B. Clark's division and formed to the left of Slack,
Then came M. M. Parsons' division, with Col. Kelly's regiment
or brigade at the head, and went into line to the left of Clark.
Then came the division of Gen. J. H. McBride, who took posi-
tion on the left of Col. Kelly and commanded a flank movement
on the right of the enemy, which movement was unsuccessful.
BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK. 55
(It cannot be learned in what part of the field the forces of
Gen. A. E. Steen, of the 5th division, Missouri State Guard, did
In this position, by Gen. Price's orders, and led by him in
person at the first, the entire line advanced in the direction of
the enera3% under a continuous fire from Lyon's infantry and
Totten's battery, until it reached a position within range of its
own guns when the Federal fire was returned, the double-bar-
reled shotguns getting in their work now very effectively. After
a few minutes steady firing the Missourians were driven back.
m'cullocii comes to the uescue.
^Meantime Gen. McCulloch had hurried to the lower end of the
valley where his division was encamped, and the impetuous
Texan chieftain speedily brought out of camp Col. Hebert's Lou-
isiana regiment, and Mcintosh's Arkansas mounted riflemen, and
hastened to the rescue of the Missourians. This force went to
the east side of Wilson's Creek and coming up to tiie fence en-
closing Kay's cornfield, the Arkansas riflemen dismounted, and
they and the Louisianians leaped over the fence and charged
through the corn upon the Federals (Plummer's battalion) and
drove them back upon the main line with loss. This fight in the
cornfield was one of the severest of the day, and when it was
ended many a corn blade and stalk and tassel had been torn with
bullets, and many a dead man lay in the furrows. For no
sooner had the Federal infantry been driven back than Dubois'
battery opened on the Confederates in the field whose surface
had never been disturbed by any thing ruder than Farmer Ray's
plow. But now it was soon plowed by shot and shell, and death
gathered a full harvest where only the husbandmen had reaped
before. The two regiments were driven back with some loss
and considerable confusion, but soon reformed and taken charge
of by McCulloch in person, who led them to another part of the
McCulloch had also ordered up Woodruff's battery, which had
engaged Totten and was doing excellent service. During the
period of the fight in the cornfield. Price's Missourians were en-
56 BATTLE OF WILSON's CUKKK.
(leavorin«r to sustain tluMnsolvos in tlu> oontor, and Avcre iiotly en-
fraged on the sides of the height upon which the enemy was
posted. Early in the tight, the 1st Regiment of Arkansas
Mounted Kitles, which had been driven out of its camp hy 8igel,
. and had formed a few inindred yards to the north, was brought
up by Price's order to the support of (ien. 81aek, and formed
on his h'ft. Here it fought (hiring the battle, led in person by
its commander, Col. T. ,]. Churchill,* who had two horses killed
under him. The regiment's loss was 42 killed and 155 wounded.
One captain (McAlexander) and three lieutenants were among
the killed. The 2(1 Arkansas Mounted KiHes, Col. li. T. Embry,
also fought with the Missourians against Lyon, losing 11 killed
and 44 wounded.
Then came the "forward and back" period of tiirhtimr de-
scribed in the Federal account, which lasted for hours. Some-
times the advantage was with one part}', sometimes with the
other. The firing, l)oth of infantry and artillery, was incessant.
Many deeds of gallantry and heroism were performed — enoui;h
to immortrJize the memory of any one of the perpetrators.
One unfortunate thing, brouglit about by the battle, was the
fact that it produced, or rather made conspicuous, a large crowd
of liars who are yet wont to brag and bluster about the various
deeds of valor they j)erformcdat AVilson's Creek, while the chances
are that instead of displaying any remarkal)le quality of bravery
or feat of extraordinary value, they were skulking in the bushes
or sitting securely under cover somewhere, not firing a gun or
harming an enemy. This is true of both sides. Pity 'tis that
any man who wore either the blue or the gray should be a liar,
but pity 'tis 'tis true. Deeds worthy of Rome or Sparta — aye,
worthy of America, tvere rendered that day of battle on Wilson's
creek, but these shaneless liars one often meets with did none of
From nearly every quarter of Missouri had come the Mis-
sourians who this day fought under the flag of the grizzly bears
and against the stars and stripes. Slack had men from off the
* Since Governor of Arkansas.
BATTLE OF WILSOn's CREEK. 57
Iowa line ; John B. Clark had men from the Nortlieast (properly
belonging to Harris' division, not then south of the Missouri)
whose homes were in >;i«i,lit of Hannibal and of the jj:reat Missis-
sippi farther to the north. Men fought who, when at home,
could stand in their door-yards and look westward over on the
prairies of the then territory of Nebraska. Many of McBridc's
division were from Southeastern Missouri, from the swamps of
Pemiscot, from the cypress forests of Dunklin. From the cities —
from the warehouses, the counting-rooms and the law offices
of St. Louis, St. Joseph and other iMissouri towns, had come
some men to fight against what they believed to be Federal tyr-
anny and usurpation, and for the honor of old Missouri and the
rights of the South. And men fought under Price that day
whose feet were on "their native heath," whose homes were in
this county, in sight of the battle-ground.
And tliey all fought well, those in line, whether advancing or
retreating, firing or falling back. Not any better than the Fed-
erals, perhaps, but fully as well. There were some stragglers
on both sides — not all of the cowards were in but one army.
When early in the engagement Gen. Clark sent a mile and a
half to the rear for his regiment of cavalry. Col. James P. Major,
commanding, that officer was attacked by Sigel at the moment of
receiving the order and driven back into the woods with all his
force. After reforming and startiuij toward the front where
Lyon was, to join their own division. Major's nicii were all
broken up by large bodies of other horsemen, who, seeking to
escape from Totten's grape and Dubois' shells and the Kan.^as
men's musket balls, rode through Major's ranks in all directions,
dividing the forces and communicacinfj their own terror to those
about them, so that the colonel was left with only one company.
Assisted by Clark's adjutant-general, Col. Casper W. Bell, of
Brunswick, Chariton county, and Capt. Joseph Finks, the col-
onel (Major) succeeded in getting up some 300 men with whom
he returned to the rear and assisted in the defeat of Sisrcl. The
remainder of' those who could be formed into line (and many of
them could when they found that the only road leading out of
camp was held by Sigel), were taken charge of by Lieut. -Col.
Hyde and advanced to the front where Lyon was, but while pre-
58 BATTLE OF WILSOn's CKKKK
paring to charge the Federal left they were driven back by
Dubois' battery and some infantry.
At last, after Price's line had advanced half a dozen times and
been driven back as often, and after tlic tight had been going on
nearly six hours and victory was not yet certain for cither side,
jNIcCulloch came back from whipping Sigel and brought with him
the Louisianians, Carroll's (Arkansas) and the greater })ortion
of Greer's (Texas) cavalry, Col. Tom P. Dockery's r)th Arkan-
sas infantry, Mcintosh's 2d Arkansas ride regiment, under
Lieut. Col, Embry, Gratiot's 3d Arkansas regiment, and Mc-
Rae's regiment, lieid's battery was also brought up.
THE HEGINXIXO OF THE END.
The terrible fire of musketry was now kept up along the whole
side and top of the hill on which the enemy was }wsted. Masses
of infantry fell back and again rushed forward. The sumniit of
the hill was covered with the dead and wounded. Both sides
were fighting with all desi)cration for the victory. Gens. Price
and ^IcCulloch were among their men animating them by their
voice, their presence, and their example. Price was slightly
wounded but would not leave the field.
To relieve the infantry McCulloch resolved to make a diversion
in their favor with the cavalry. Accordingly a portion of Car-
roll's and Greer's regiments, and a mass of Missourians Avere
formed to go up the valley and fall upon the Federal left, but,
as before stated, Dubois' battery and the Federal infantry scat-
tered the horsemen before they could get fairly into line.
At this critical moment, when the fortunes of the day seemed
at the turning point, McCulloch ordered forward his reserves
and threw them into the scale. Forward came the rest of
PcjM-ce's Arkansas division, Gratiot's and Dockery's regiments,
on the run and cheering. Into the thickest of the fight and
throwing away their *♦ tooth-picks," as their huge knives were
called relied solely on their muskets, and did most effective
work in the center of the line. Reid's battery was also ordered
forward, and Ilebert's Louisianians were again called into action
BATTLE OF "WILSON's CREEK. 59
on the left of it. Guibor's battery, of Parson's division, opened
with canister on the ITederais, and terrible was the din and the
Now the battle became general and violent and bloody. Hot
as a furnace was the hollow iii which the Confederates fought,
made so by the blazing August sun overhead. Hot as a Tophet
it became, made so by gunpowder, and lead and iron, and sweat
and blood. Probably no two o|)posing forces ever fought with
greater desperation, as the Confederate line was advanced on the
last charge. But Lyon was killed, Totten's battery moved to
the rear, and soon the entire Federal force left the field in pos-
session of the Southerners.
The battle ended suddenly, *♦ as quick as a clap of thunder
ceases," one descril)es it, and for some time after the Federals
had retreated it was not certain to the Confederates how the
battle had gone. Another attack by the blue-coats was expected
and prepared for. Gradually the ground in front where Totten's
battery havl stood wj.'s occupied, and then a line of skirmishers,
pushing cautiously to the front, discovered that the victory was
theirs. No attempt at pursuit was made, although McCuUoch
had (i,000 cavalry, whose horses were fresh and rested, and had
not sweat a hair that day. That the Federals were not pursued,
and in their jaded and exhausted condition cut ott" from Spring-
field and captured on the high prairies west of town, seems
inexcufiable, even to this day, to those posted in the facts.
The Federal officers plainly assert that the reason they were
not pursued was because the Confederates were so badly hurt
themselves that they could Jiot do so ; and further it is claimed
that had Lyon lived a Federal victory would have been gained,
and Price and McCulloch driven from the field. It is certain
(on the authority of Col. Snead), that Price wished McCulloch
to pursue, but the latter, for reasons of his own, would not.
Then Price resumed command of the Missouri State Guard, and
then he would not pursue, for reasons oi his own.
m'CULLOCH's destruction of 8IOEL.
When Sigel came upon the southern end of the Confederate
camp the troops he encountered were Churchill's Arkansas regi-
60 BATTLE OF WILSOX's CREEK.
moiit, Greor's Texas Rangers, aiul al)(»"iit 700 inountcd Mis.sou-
rians under command of Col. James P. Major and Col. Benjamin
Brown, of Ray county, the latter the President of the Missouri
State Sciiate. These troops, talcen unawares, were speedily
pushed back up the valley across the Fayetteville road. It was
at this i)oint of the line, — the Confederate right is faced toward
the east, — where McCuUoch's Confederates were stationed.
^Vhen Lj'on first opened :;nd alarmed the camp, McCulloch
hastened back from Price headquarters, and took up two of his
best regiments (Hel)ert's and Mcintosh's), to the assistance of
his comrade-commander. The absence of these troo[)s weaker.ed
the position of McCulloch very materially, and Sigel had mat-
ters his own way for a time. Pearce's division of Arkansas
State troops were put in position, somewhat in reserve.
"When McCulloch i)ecame fully aAvare that the Federal attack
on the south or riijht was so formidable and so fraught with
danger to the entire army, he brought back the Louisiana and
Arkansas re2:iments, and forming them with some of Pearce's
di'.'ision, and Major's and Brown's cavalry, advanced to attack
Sigel. The Louisianians ajul McIn.:osh's regiment had got the
worst of it, in the end, in the fight i.i Ray's cornfield, but they
came up to the work now in brave style. The attack was be-
ing made on Siirel's and Salomon's regiments, and the four
guns of Schaeffer and Schuetzenbach. There was only scatter-
ing firing on tlie part of the Federals, who mistook the charac-
ter of the advancinjr hosts. It was no fault of McCuUoch's
men, however, that Sigel was deceived. The Louisianians were
not to blame that they were mistaken for the Iowa regiment be-
cause of their dress.*
On the}' came, regardless of the short-sightedness of their
foes, and not knowing or caring anything about their enemies'
mistakes until they were within almost grappling distance of
Sigel's cannon, when they sprang forward, and with one well
contrived and well managed charge swept everything before
• At the brenkingout of the civil war, the color of the infantry uniform of the U.
S. army was gray. Upon its adoption by the Confederates thi» color was changed,
and blue substituted.
BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK. 61
them. Then followed the events heretofore described — the vain
attempts to rally — the disorderly panic-stricken flight — the cap-
tures and the purs!\it. It must not be forgotten that just before
the charge was made, Reid's Arkansas battery opened on the
unsuspcious Federal Germans, and they were already in confu-
sion when the Confederate infantry and cavalry were precipi-
tated upon tliem. Capt. Hiram Bledsoe's Missouri battery,
from Lafayette county, with ♦♦ Old Sacramento," a noted 12-
ponnder, and three other guns, also did erfective work against
Sigel, under direction of Col. Rosser, or Weightman's brigade.
As soon as Sigel's destruction had been fairly accomplished
(which occupied but a few minutes) McCulloch left the flying
fragments to be looked after by sundry detachments of the
cavalry, and returned with his infantry and a great deal of the
cavalry to the assistance of Gen. Price. In the last efforts
against Lyon's column, McCuUoch's troops took a conspicu-
ous part, as ])efore detailed ; and of course but for the part
taken by McCuIloch's and Pearce's men the victory could
not have been won.
AFTER THE FAMOUS VICTORY.
Dies ircel O, the moaning and wailing that were all over
the land west of the great Fathers of Waters when the full tid-
ings of the battle *of V/ilson's Creek were learned! From
Dubuque and Baton Rouge, from Iowa and Texas, from
Louisiana and Kansas, and from every county of Missoun,
there went up a sob])ing prayer from many a household for
strength to bear the bereavement of a father, a husband, a
brother or a son slain that 10th of August, 1861, down by
the beautiful little stream in the Ozarks.
There they lay, strewn all about over the ground, with faces
white and waxan, or clotted with blood, these men who had died
to please the politicians. In cosy, shady nooks where fanes
might delight to dwell ; out in the glare of the blazing sun,
festering and corrupting ; in cornfields with blade and tassel
waving above them, in dells and glens, and vales, and on the
hillsides — dead men everywhere. With a tiny bullet hole a
baby's finger might stop, marring no feature and mangling no
62 HATTLK OF WILSON's CREKK.
limb ; with l)owels torn out, with faces shattored, heads torn to
pieces, huiulsoine countenances distorted into ghastly, grinning
objects — deiul men everywhere.
Wounded men everywhere. Crawling about, delirious with
pain and agony ; lying prone and almost motionless, staring up
into the blue sky, dying slowly and making no sign ; shrieking,
groaning, cursing, praying, imploring help, begging for a. band-
age, for water, lying quietly, laughing even, — wounded men
everywhere, in hospitals, under trees, in tents, in houses, in
stables, with surgeons probing and cutting and carving and saw-
ing and clumsily bandaging; in ambulances jolting off towards
S[)ringHeld ; limping along to hide and escape another hurt —
wounded men everywhere.
Blood everywhere. On the blades and the silks oi' the corn ;
on the leaves of the pretty green bushes.
Great drops on the bunch-grass, but not of the dew;
Staining the velvet moss on the hillsides ; purpling in puddles
in the pathways and by the roadsides ; reddening the lucid
waters of bonnio Wilson's creek ; flecking the wheels of the
guns and daubing the stocks of the muskets; clinging in loath-
some gouts to the stems of wild flowers — blood everywhere —
human blood — and the best blood of the Republic, too.
COMPARATIVK STRENGTH AND LOSSES OF tIiE TWO ARMIES.
The strength of both of the contending armies at the battle
of Wilson's Creek is here given as nearly as it has been ]:)ossible
to obtain it. It is believed that the Federal strength has been
very deflnitely learned ; that of the combined Southern forces
has been approximated in regard to two or three commands in
According to the reports of the company commanders on the
morning of the 9th of August, there were in the column that
marched under Gen. Lyon exactly 3,721 men of all arms, in-
fantry, cavalry, and artillery, not including the two companies
of home guards under Capts. Wright and Switzler.
BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK. 63
Sigel's column consisted of 17 companies of infantry (8 of
the 3d Missouri and 9 of the 5th Missouri), numl)ering912 men ;
six pieces of artillery, 85 men ; and two companies of cavaliy,
121 men; — Total of Sigel's column, 1,118.
Total Federal strength, 4,839 — with Wright's and Switzler's
ome guards, 5,000.
Without giving exact details. Gen. McCuUoch says, in his
official report to Gen. Cooper, Adjutant General of the Confed-
erate States: ** My own effective force was 5,300 infantry.
Woodruff's and Reed's batteries, and 6,000 horsemen." Total,
Gen. Price's division was composed of the following sub-
divisions : —
Gen. J. S. Rains'
Gen. W. Y. Slack's . .
Geii. J. H. McBride's . .
Gen. M. M. Parsons' . .
Gen. John B. Clark's (sr.)
3,193 2,090 5,283
And Bledsoe's and Guibor's batteries, probably 150
Grand total of Price's Missourians.* 5,433
July 30, at Cassville, Gen. McCulloch reported his force and
that of Gen. Pearce, as numbering in aggregate 5,700, '* nearJy
all well armed." (Rebellion Records, vol. 3, series I, p. 622).
Gen. Pearce loaned the Missourians six hundred stand of arms.
Afterwards, McCulloch received Greer's South Kansas Texas
cavalry of 1,100 men, and one or two independent companies
from Arkansas, making his and Pearce's forces combined, num-
ber about 7,000 men. In round numbers the Southern troops
*GeD. A. E. Steen's division seems to have been attached to McCallouch's
army. It was insigoiticant in numbers.
04 BATTLE OF WILSON's CKEEK.
mimbored about 12,000 at the buttle of Wilson's Creek ; the Fed-
eral or Union loroes, 5,000.
THE FEDERAL LOSS.
As officially reported, ind on file at this day, was as follows :
Commtvid. Killed. Wounded. Missing.
First Kansas Volunteers, . '. . . .77 187 20
Second Kansas Volunteers, . . . . o 59 (>
First Missouri Volunteers 70 208 11
First Iowa Volunteers, 13 138 4
Capt. riunimer's Battalion, .... 19 52 9
Company D, 1st Cavalry, Capt. Elliott, 1 3
Capt. Steele's Battalion,"^ 15 44 2
Capt. Carr's 'Company, 4
Capt. Wood's Company Kansas Ranirers, 1
Capt. Wrijj^ht's Dade County Home Guard, 2
Capt. Totten's Battery, .*.... 4 7
Capt. Dubois' Battery 2 1
Col. Si<rers Kegiment, 3d Missouri, . 13 15 27
Col. Salomon's Regiment, 5tli Missouri, 13 38 15
Total 235 754 102
Of the wounded forty-eight are known to have died of their
injuries afterward, making the actual loss in killed 283.
The principal Federal officers killed were Gen. Lyon ; Capt.
Carey Gratz, 1st Missouri ; Capt. A. L. Mason, 1st Iowa.
Wounded. — Gen. Sweeney; Col. Deitzler, 1st Kansas,
(twice); Col. Mitchell, 2d Kansas; Lieut. Col. Merritt, 1st
Iowa; Lieut. Col. Andrews, Ist Missouri; Adjt. Wuldron, 1st
Iowa; Capt. Plummer, of the regulars.
CONFEDERATE LOSS TRICE's ARMY.
Gen. Slack's Division. — Col. John T. Hughes' brigade,
killed 36; wounded 70 (many mortally); missing 30. Among
the killed were C. H. Bennett, adjutant of Hughes' regiment ;
Capt. Chas. Blackwell, of Carroll county, and Lieut. Hughes.
Col. Rive'a brigade lost 4 killed, and 8 wounded ; among the
killed were Lieut. Col. Austin, of Livingston county, a member
of the Legislature, and Capt. Engart.
BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK. 65
Gen. Clark's Division. — Infantry loiis, 17 killed and 71
■wounded ; cavalry loss, 6 killed and 5 wounded. Among the
killed were Capts. Farris and Halleck and Lieut. Haskins.
Among the wounded were Gen. Clark himself, and Col. Bur-
bridge, both severely, and Capt. D. H. Mclntyre, now attorney
general of the State.
Gen. Parsons' Division. — Infantry loss, 9 killed and 38
wounded ; cavalry loss, 3 killed and 2 wounded ; artillery, Gui-
bor's battery, 3 killed and 7 wounded. Among the killed was
Capt. Coleman, of Grundy county. Col. Kelly, commanding
the infantrj', was wounded in the hand.
Gen. M c Bride' s Division. — Total loss, 22 killed, 124 wounded.
Among the latter were Col. Foster, and Capts. Nichols, Dough-
erty, Armstrong, and Mings.
Gen. Rains' Division. — Weightman's l)rigade, 35 killed 111
wounded. Cawthorn's brigade, 21 killed and 75 wounded.
Among the killed were Col. Richard Hanson Weightman, com-
manding 1st brigade, and Major Chas. Rogers, of St. Louis.
Two other prominent officers were killed, — Col. Ben Brown, of
Ray county, commanding cavalry with McCuUoch's army, and
Col. George. W. Allen, of Saline county, of Price's statF. The
latter was shot down while bearing an order, and was buried on
the field. Col. Horace. H. Brand, of Price's staff, was taken
prisoner but released soon afterward.
The total of Price's loss, according to the official reports,
was — killed, 15(5 ; wounded G09 ; missing 30.
McCuUoch's j\rmi/. — The losses of McCulloch's army in the
aggregate Avas 109 killed, 300 wounded and 50 prisoners.
Among the officers killed were Capt. Hinson, of the Louisiana
regiment; Capt. McAlexander, and Adjutant Harper, of Church-
ill's regiment ; Capts. Bell and Brown, and Lieuts. Walton and
Weaver, of Pearce's division. Some of the severely wounded
were Col, Mcintosh (by a grapeshot), Lieut. Col, Neal, Major
H. Ward, Captains King, Pearson, Gibbs, Rarasaur and Porter,
and Lieuts. Dawson, Chambers, Johnson, King, Raney, Adams,
Hardister, Mclvor, and Saddler.
The aggregate Southern loss was not far from 265 killed, 900
<3<) llATTLK OF AVIL.SON's CUEKK.
wounded and 80 prisoners. A little lieavier than tliat of the Fed-
erals, owing to the long range muskets and rifles of the latter
and their more efficiently served artillery. All agree that the
Confederate and secession batteries as a rule were not well
DISPOSITION' OF THE DEAD.
The dead at Wilson's Creek were not well disposed of. All
were given hasty and rude sepulture. Of course the Confeder-
ate slain fared the l)cttcr, being buried by their own comrades.
The Union dead were put under ground as soon as possil)le, and
^vith but little ceremony. In an old well, near the l)attlc Held,
fourteen bodies were thrown. In a "sink-hole" thirty-four of
their bodies were tuml)led. The others were buried in groups
here and there, and the burial heaps marked. In many instances,
u few Federal soldiers were present when the burials were niade,
and identified certain graves. Some of the bodies whose graves
were so marked, were afterwards disinterred and removed to
their former homes. A number of the Federal dead were never
buried ; this was particularly true regarding Sigel's men. Dr.
Melcher says he saw portions of the bodies of the German Fed-
orals along the line of Sigel's retreat, several days after the bat-
tle, strewn along near the road, having been torn by dogs and
hogs and buzzards. Skulls, bones, etc., indicating that at least
a dozen corpses had been left above ground were gathered up.
The doctor's statement is corroborated by citizens who lived in
The weather was hot — oppressively so. Putrefaction soon
set in ; there was a scarcity of coffins and coffiii-makers, and cof-
fin-maker's materials, and perhaps the Confederates did the best
they could. Their own dead were, in many instances, given im-
In 1867, six years afterwards, when the National Cemetery at
Springfield was established, the contractor for the removal of
the dead bodies of the Union soldiers on the battle ground, took
up and removed, and received pay for 183 bodies, as follows ;
Out of the •* sink-hole," 34; out of the old well, 14; from
other portions of the field, 135.
BATTLE OF WILSON 's CREEK. 67
THE HOME GUARDS AT SPRINGFIELD.
Back in Springfield there was a large force of Home Guards,
miml)cring about 1,200, under Col. Marcus Boyd, from Greene
and adjoining counties, all under arms,, and all ready and willing
to fight. But Gen. L3'on held their fighting qualities in such
poor estoe?n — having no confidence that any other sort of troops
but regulars would fight well — that he had refused to allow
them to go to the field, saying that they would break at the first
fire and demoralize the rest of the troops, and perhaps cause
him to lose the fight.
But in all probability — no reason appearing to the con-
trary — if these 1,200 men had been taken out to Wilson's Creek
they would luive fought well — as well as the volunteers, who
fought as efiectively as the reguhirs — and perhaps ( who knows ?)
would have turned the scale in favor of the Federals. Gen.
Lyon made a mistake, certainly, in not employing against the
onemy in his front every man who could be induced to fire a
musket; but his anxiety to not leave iiis rear and base wholly
nnprotected from a cavalry dash or sydden movement of some
8ort, led to his leaving this largo force in Si)ringfield, which stood
in arms all of the forenoon and heard their comrades fighting so
hard away to the southwest, and, anxious as they were to go to
their relief, were forbidden to do so.
It is related of a certain doughty captain of the Home Guards
then and now a resident of Springfield, that on his reporting to
Col. Boyd for orders the morning of the battle, the colonel sent him
oiit on the Mount Vernon road, directing him to observe closely
the country to the westward and to report promptly every half
hour should anything extraordinary occur. In a few minutes
after the opening of Tottcn's battery, back came the captain
ambling along on a little brood mi\re, which he v;as industriously
larruping with a lath, and reining up his steed in front of Col.
Boyd, he made a military salute and announced : —
♦'Colonel Boyd, Sir I The cannings is a-firingi" As the
roar of every gun had been plainly audible to everybody, this
was not a very new piece of mformation, but Boyd replied, "All
right, captain ; go back to your post."
68 BATTLE OF "VVILSON's CRKKK.
Flourishing his latli as l>efore, the captain rode away, and
promptly in half an honr — still in his hand the lath, which was
d()ing doul)lc service, as a sword and a ridir-ir-whip — he re-
turned : —
♦♦Colonel Boyd, Sir.' The cannings is s(iH u-firing ! " And
so every half honr, until the" cannings " had ceased to thunder,
when he returned, and nia.king the same military salute, the
faithful lath still in his grasp, he announced : —
♦♦ Colonel Boyd, Sir/ The cannings is ceased a-ririnjr ! "
THK RETREAT YRO'Sl SPRINGFIELD.
Ui)on reaching Springtield the Federal army rested a brief
time and got itself ready for flight. A conference of the prin-
cipal officers was held, and the command of all the forces given
to Col. 8igel, of whom it is reported Maj. Sturgis said he was
not altogether successful in attack, bnt was '* h — 1 on retreat."
The citizens were notified, and hundred? of them began packing
up and preparing to follow the army. These were Union peoi)lo
who dreaded the api)roach of the Southern troops. The Home
Guards also got ready to move as a part of the army. Many
citizens of the county, living outside of Springfield, got their
effects together and were ready to go.
A vast amount of money belonging to the bank had been
made ready for shipment, by Lyon's order, and was ^zing
guarded by a Home Guard company. Merchandise of all kinds
was loaded into wagojis and certain of the olBcers ♦♦ pressed "
teams for the occasion to load commissary and quartermasters'
Sigel's ordnance officer destroyed a conisderable quantity of
powder because there were no means of transporting it. The
1st Iowa also burned a portion of its baggage for the same rea-
son. The town was full of frightened men, women, and chil-
dren, wagon?, teams, horses, mules, milch cows, soldiers, in-
fantry, cavalry, and artillery, and there was the greatest,
confusion all of the evening and till long after dark, even up to
the time when the hegira commenced. The public square was-
BATTLK OF WILSON's CREEK. 69
a perfect jam of cannon carriajjes, army wagons, farm wagons,
CARE OF THE UNION WOUNDED.
By lO o'clock in tlie forenoon the wounded Federals had
begun to arrive from the front, where the battle was raging,
with the news that Lyon was driving the enemy at all points,
the Union people cheered, and bestirred themselves to take care
of the stricken. The new court-house (the present) and the
sheriff's residence were taken for hospital purposes, and by
midnight contained 100 men ; the Bailey house was filled ; the
Methodist church building was similarly occupied. Ambu-
lances, carriages, butchers' wagons, express wagons, every sort
of vehicle with wheels and springs, plied between the battle field
and the town all day and until after dark, bringing off the
Many of the ladies of the town volunteered their services and
became hospital nurses. Maj. Sturgis left with Dr. E. C.
Franklin, of the 5th Missouri, the sum of ^2,500 in gold, with
"which to purchase supplies for the wounded left behind, to care
for Gen. Lyon's body, and for other necessary expenses. This
is upon the authority of Dr. Franklin himself. The doctor was
ffiven jreneral charge of the Federal wounded.
THE ARMY SETS OUT.
At last ail was ready an the army set out for Kolla, with a
train of wagons three miles long and a huge column of refugees,
men, wonien, and children, black and white, old and young, in
carriages, wagons, carts, on horseback, on foot, •• anyway to
get away," as it has been expressed. The march was begun at
midnight, and by daybreak the head of the column was outside
of the count3^ No attempt was made on the part of the South-
ern troops to pursue and capture the column with its $2,000,000
in money and stores, and it was not molested in anyway — as,
it would seem, it should have i)een. Sigel was not disturbed
until near the crossing of the Gasconade. *
Before crossing this river Col. Sigel received information that
70 BATTLK OF WILSOX'iS CKEKK.
the ford could not be ptisscd well, and that a stronir force of the
enemy was moving from West Plains towards Wavnesville, to
cut olr the retreat. He was also aware that it would take coA-
si(icral)le time to cross the li()I)idoux and tiie two Pineys on the
ok! road. To avoid these difticulties, and to give the army an
opportunity to rest, Sigel directed the troops from Lebanon to
the nortliern road, passing Right Point, in the southeastern part
of Camden county, and Ilumbohlt, Puhiski county, and ter-
minating opi)osite the mouth of Little Piney, where in case the
ford could not l)e passed, tiie train could be sent by Vienna and
and Linn to the mouth of the Gasconade, wiiile the troops could
ford the river at the mouth of the Little Piney to reinforce
Rolla. To cross over the artillery he ordered a ferryboat from
Big Piney Crossing to be hauled down on the Gasconade to the
moutii of Little Piney, where it arrived immediately after the
army had crossed the ford. Before reaching the ford, however,
Sigel had given up the command of the army to Maj. Sturgis ,
who marched it into Rolla August 19th, where it went into tem-
po'-ary camp, the first encampment being named *♦ Camp Cary
Gratz," in honor of the captain of the Lst Missouri, kil'ed at
Wilson's Creek. In a few days the Missouri and Kansas troops
and the 1st Iowa, whose term of service hi'.d long before expired,
were sent to St. Louis to be mustered out.
THE CONFEDEllATES ENTER SPRINGFIELD.
The battle of Wilson's Creek ended at about noon of August
10 ; but not until about 11 o'clock of the next day, or nearly
24 hours after the close of the battle, did the first Confederate
troops (save a few prisoners), set foot within the town of
Springfield. Sturgis, v,'ith the remains of Lyon's corps, was
not pursued at all. Sigel's "flying Dutchman" were chased
but a few miles, while no attempt at formidable pursuit or to
follow up the victory was made by either McCuUoch or Price.
Whether this was because, as the Federals claimed, that the
Southerners themselves were so badly damaged as to be unable
to follow the Federals, but had to wait and allow them to go
out of the country before moving camp, or whether Gen. Mc-
BATTLE OF WILSON 's CREEK. 71
Cnlloch himself expected to he attacked, or had other cood
reasons for sitting quietly by, cannot here be stated.
Lyon's body had been sent in. Certain citizens of Spring-
field had gone from town to the Southern camp, and back and
forth had ridden many a man, but no movement was made until
late Sunday morning. At about 11 o'clock some Missouri and
Texas cavalry rode into town and halted. No pursuit worthy
of the nnmc was attempted after the vast crowd of citizens and
soldiers and citizen-soldiery making its exodus from Greene
county, in some respects like unto that crowd of fugitives led
by the Jewish Lawgiver and guided by a pillar of cloud by day
and a pillar of fire by by night. Soon the town was pretty well
filled with troops, and Price and McCulloch came in. The
stores were visited and the proprietors interviewed, and there
was great activity in mercantile circles for a time ; tho rsands ot
dollars worth of goods changed hands in a few hours. Every-
thing was paid for on the spot, — in Confederate or Missouri
The 11th was Sunday, but, as Gen, McCulloch remarked, *♦ It
was just as good a8 any other day in war time," and so the troops
were distributed around, encampments laid out, and prepara-
tions made to permanently occupy the land. On the next day,
Monday, the 12th, Gen. McCulloch issued the following procla-
n^ation, which was distributed not only through this county but
throughout the greater portion of the southern part of the
State : —
PROCLAMATION OF GEN. m'CULLOCH.
Headquarters Western Army, >
Camp near Springfield, Mo., August 12, 18tU. 5
To the People of Missouri: — Having been called by tho
Governor of your State to assist in driving the National forces
out of the State and in restoring the people to their just rights,
I have come among you simply with the view of making war
upon our Northern foes, to drive them back and give the op-
pressed of your State an opportunity of again standing up as
free men and uttering their true sentiments. You have been
overrun and trampled upon by the irercenary hordes of the
North ; 3'our beautiful State has been nearly subjugated, but
72 BATTLK OF WILSON's CIIKEK.
those true sons of Missouri who have conliiuieil in arms, together
with Miy forces, came hac'.c upon the eueuiy, and we have gained
over them a great and signal victory. Tlieir general-in-chief is
shiin, and many of their own general officers wounded. Their army
is in full flight ; and now, if the true men of Missouri will rise up,
ral.'y around our standard the S*^ate will ])e redeemed. I do not
come among you to make war njjon any of your people, whether
Union or otherwise ; the Union people will all be protected in
their rights and ))roperty. It is earnestly recommended to them
to return to their honies. Prisoners of the Union army, who
have been arrested by the army, will be released and allowed to
return to their friends. Missouri must be allowed to choose her
own destiny, no oath binding your consciences. I have driven
the enemy from among you ; the time has now arrived for the
l)eople of the State to act. You can no longer procrastinate.
Missouri must now take her position, be it North or South.
Brig. Gen. Commanding.
This proclamation was well received by the people of the
county, especially the Union portion, who expected nothing else
that they were to be treated with great severity. All looked
forward to ii season of security, if not absolute peace. It is
painful to be com])elled to state, however, that Gen. McCulloch's
j)roclamation was not long observed. Despite its declarations
Union men were arrested and their property and that of their
secession neighbors seized and appropriated whenever it pleased
the sul)ordinate Confederate officers to do so.
In connection with his proclamation, and on the same day
]McCnlloch issued the following congratulatory order to the
troops under his command over the result of the battle of
Wilson's Creek ; —
GEN. m'cULLOCII's ORDER.
Headquarters Western Army,
Near Springfield, Missouri, August 12, 1861.
The General commanding takes great pleasure in announcing
to the army under his con.mand, the signal victory it has just
gained. Soldiers of Louisiana, of Arkansas, of Missouri, and
of Texas, nobly have you sustained yourselves. Shoulder to
shoulder you have met the enemy and driven him before you.
BATTLE OF AVILSON's CREEK. 73
Your first battle has I)cen glorious and your general is proud of
you. Tiie oj)])osing forces, composed mostly of the old regular
army of the North, have thrown themselves upon you, confident
of victory; but, by great gallantry and determined courage, you
have routed them with great slaughter. Several pieces of
artillery and many prisoners are now in your hands. The com-
mander-in-chief of the enemy is slain, and many of the general
officers wounded. The tiag of the Confederacy now floats near
Springfield, the stronghold of the enemy. The friends of our
cause who have b(;en in prison there are released. While an-
nouncing to the army the great victory, the general hopes that
the laurels you have gained will not be tarnished by a single
outrage. The p/ivate property of citizens of either party must
be respected. Soldiers who fought as well as you did the day
before 3'estcrday cannot rob or plunder. By order of
James Mclr.tosh, Capt. C. S. A. and Adjutant General.
General Price was also seized with the proclamation fever and
a few days after the occupation of Springfield, that is to say on
August 20th, published the following: —
OEN. price's proclamation.
To the People of Missouri: — FelJoio-citizens : The army
under my command has been organized under the laws of the
State for the protection of your homes and firesides, and for the
maintenance (>f the rights, dignity and honor of Missouri. It is
kept in the field for these purposes alone, and to Jiid in accom-
plishing them, our gallant Southern brethren have come into our
State. We have just achieved a glorious victory over the foe,
and scattered far and wide the well-appointed army which the
usurper at Washington has been more than six months gather-
ing for your subjugation and enslavement. This victory frees
a large portion of the State from the power of the invaders, and
restores it to the protection of its army. It consequently be-
comes my duty to assure you that it is my firm determination to
protect every peaceable citizen in the full enjoyment of all his
rights, whatever may have been his sympathies in the present
unhappy struggle, if he has not taken an active part in the cruel
warfare, which has been waged against the good people of this
State, by the ruthless enemies whom we have just defeated. I
therefore invite all sTood citizens to return to their homes and
74 BATTLK OF WILSON'S CREEK.
the practice of their ordinury uvocations, with the full assurance
that they, their families, their homes and their property shall be
carefully protected. I, at the same time, warn all evil disposed
persons, who may support the usurpations of any one claiming
to be provisional or temporary Governor of Missouri, or who
shall in any other way give aid or comfort to the enemy, that
they will be held as enemies, and treated accordingly.
Maj.-Gen. Commanding Mo. State Guard.
August 20, 18G1.
It will be observed that the terms of Gen. Price's proclania-
tjon differed somewhat from McCuUoch's. The latter declared
that prisoners of the Union army would be released and allowed
to return totheir friends, while Gen. Price declared that no man
who had taken an active part in the "cruel warfare which had
been waged against the good peoi)le [i.e., the secession good
people) of the State" should be protected in his rights. And
yet Gen. Price was as much a friend of the Union people and
Union troops as Gen. McCulloch, and showed them as many
JOY AND CONGRATULATIONS.
The news of the battle of Wilson's Creek was received with
great joy throughout the Southern Confederacy and everywhere
that the Confederate cause had sympathizers, and the event did
much for that cause in Missouri, by stimulating recruiting and
causing many an undecided in<lividual to come down otf the
fence and stand on the Southern side. Some time afterward,
November 4, 1861, when the '♦Claib. Jackson Legislature" (as
the Legislature that passed the Neosho ordinance of secession
was called), was in session at Cassville, it passed the following
resolution, introduced by Mr. Goodlett, under a suspension of
the rules : —
Hesolved by the Senate, the House of Representatives concur^
ring therein: That the thanks of the State of Missouri are here-
by cordially given to Major-General Price and Brigadier-Generals
Parsons, Rains, Slack, Clark, McBride, and Steen, and the
officers and troops of the Missouri State Guard under their com-
mand, and to Brigadier-General McCulloch and officers and the
troops of the Confederate States under their command, for their
BATTLK OF WILSON's CREEK. 75
gallant and signal services and the victory obtained by them in
the battle of Springfield.
The following resolntions were introduced into the Confeder-
ate Congress on the 21st of August, by Mr. Ochiltree, of Texas,
and were passed unanimously : —
Wherkas, It has pleased Almighty God to vouchsafe to the
arms of the Confederate States another glorious and important
victory, in a portion of the country where a reverse would have
been disastrous, by exposing the families of the good people of
the State of Missouri, to the unbridled license of the brutal
soldiery of an unscrupulous enemy ; therefore
Be it Resolved b^j the Congress of the Confederate States, That
the thanks of Congress are cordially tendered to Brig. -Gen. M'>
Cullochand the officers and soldiers of hisbrave command for their
gallant conduct indefeatinji after a battle of six and a half hours
a force of the enemy equal in numljers and greatly superior in
all their appointments, thus proving that a right cause nerves
the heart and strengthens the arms of the Southern people, light-
ing as they are for their liberty, their homes and friends, against
an unholy despotism.
Resolved^ That in the opinion of Congress, Gen. McCulloch
and his troops are entitled to and will receive the grateful thanks
of all our people.
76 BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK.
PKOMINENT REGIMENTS AND OTHER SUBORDINATE COM-
MANDS ENGAGED IN THE BATTLE.
Confederate Commands. — The Sd Louisiana Infantry — 1st Arkansas Mounted
Kifles — 2d Arkansas 3Iountcd Kifles — ^McKea's Arkansas Battalion — 3d Arkan-
sas Infantry — 4th Arkansas Infantry — 5th Arkansas Infantry — 1st Arkansas
Cavalry. Federal Cotnmands. — The Ist Iowa Infantry — 1st Missouri In-
fantry — Ist Kansas Infantry — 2d Kansas Infantry — Totten's Battery — Dubois'
Batter^' — Steele's Battalion — Pluramer's Battalion — The Home Guards.
The particular pint taken in the battle of Wilson's creek by
sonic of the leading regiments of each side may be of interest,
and is here described, the facts being obtained from actual par-
ticipants — the commanding officers when possible.
THIRD LOUISIANA INFANTRY.
A consideral)lc portion of the services of this regiment have
already been narrated. Aroused by Gen. McCulloch himself,
the colonel of the regiment, Louis Hebert, formed the 3d Louis-
iana and followed the road to Springfield, a short distance to a
narrow by-road running north and leading to Ray's corn-field,
then held by Plumnier's regulars. In front (»f the corn-field was
a dense thicket, through which the regiment advanced, and here
it instantly became engaged. At the first fire Sergeant Major
Renwick, of the regiment, and Private Placide Bossier, of the
'' Pelican Rangers No. 1," of Natchitoches, were killed.
The 3d Louisiana jumped the fence, charged, and soon drove
Plumnier's men from the corn-field. Still advancing, they reached
an oat field, and here Dubois' battery opened on them, as did
some of the Federal infantry, and the regiment was driven back
in some confusion. Col. Hebert ordered it to fall back to the
woods higher to the right, but the regiment became separated,
and the greater portion — the right wing and some of the left —
were formed outside of the field by Lieut.-Col. S. M. Hyams,
BATTLE OF WILSON'p CREEK. 77
and, l)y orders of Gen. McCulloch, went down the creek valley
to attack Sigel. Col. Hebert succeeded in forming two compa-
nies into a detachment of about 100 men and marched in an
opposite direction, toward the force under Gen. Lyon. Col.
Hebert advanced within about 500 yards of Totten's battery,
where he remained in front of the Federal line for nearly iialf
an hour under a severe fire, Avhen the detachment Avas forced to
retire. Again it formed and then marched down and joined the
right wing under Lt. -Col. Hyams, which had jusi returned from
defeating Sigel. The entire regiment then moved against the
Federal position on Bloody Hill.
The companies led by Lieut. -Col. Hyams against feigel were
the " Pelican Rifles," Capl. John P. Vigilini ; the *' Eberville
Grays," Lieut. Verbois ; the "Morehouse Guards," Capt. Hin-
son ; the '• Pelican Rangers No. 1," Capt. Breazeale ; the **Pel-
ican Rangers No. 2," Capt. Blair; the ♦♦Winn Rifles," Capt.
Pierson ; the ♦♦Morehouse Fencibles," Capt. Harris; the
♦♦ Shreveport Rangers," Capt. Gilmore; a few of the ♦♦Monti-
cello Rifles," under Sergeant Walcott, and a detachment of
Missourians, 75 in number, commanded by a Capt. Johnson.
The regiment was conducted across the ford of Wilson's creek
and down the valley in front of Sigel' 8 position by Col. James
Arriving in front of Sigel's battery, the regiment formed, and
by order of Lieut. Col. Hyams advanced up the steep hill to
the charge. Near the brow of the hill Lieut. Lacey, of the
♦♦ Shreveport Rangers," sprang on a log, waved his sword, and
called out to his company, ♦♦ Come on, Caddo 1 " Shreveport ig
in the parish of Caddo, Louisiana. The whole command rushed
forward, carried the position, captured the guns, and drove the
already panic-stricken Federal Germans in terror from the field.
The captured cannon were rolled down the hill, and one piece,
with its horses, was taken to the main command.
The ♦♦ Pelican Rifles " and the ♦♦ Iberville Grays " were under
command of Capt. Vigilini, of the former company. When
within thirty or forty yards of Sigel's battery. Gen. McCulloch
being in person with the 3d Louisiana, a Federal soldier ap-
peared in plain view on the hill. Gen. McCulloch himself called
78 BATTLE OF AVILSON's CUEEK.
out, "What troops are those? " The man replied, "Sigel's reo'-
inient," at the same time raising his rifle to shoot the general;
l)ut Corporal Henrv Gentles, of Vigilini's company, had his
Mississippi rifle in position and shot the Federal dead in -m in-
stant, thus saving Gen. McCulloch 's life.
In the assault on Sigel Capt. Hinson and his brother-in-hnv,
Private Whetstone, both of the " Morehouse Guards," were
killed, it is said, by the same shot. Among the members of the
regiment who distinguished themselves were Color-bearer Felix
Chaler, Corporal Ilicock (killed), Drum-Major Patterson, Or-
derly Sergeant Alphonse Prudhomme, Private I. P. Hj'ams,
Cor[)oral Gentles, aad Sergt. W. H. Tunnard. The regiment
was especially complimented by Gen. McCulloch in his oflicial
The 3d Louisiana lost in killed one commissioned officer, one
non-commissioned officer and seven privates; total killed,
nine wounded, three commissioned officers, six non-com-
missioned officers and thirty-nine privates ; total wounded,
forth-eight ; missing, three privates. Total casualties, sixty.
FIRST AUlvANSAS MOUNTED RIFLES.
The 1st Arkansas Mounted rifles was atthe time of the battle of
Wilson's creek in the Confederate service, and was commanded
by Col. T. J. Churchill. It belonged to McCulloch 's divis-
ion and was encamped at the Ic.rer end of the Confederate posi-
tion. At about breakfast time Sigel 's battery and his infantry
opened on the regiment, which lay in an open field. Being ex-
posed to a raking fire from cannon and musketry, the regiment
fell back into the woods on the north, and there formed under
direction of Col. Churchill himself, who, .is soon as his align-
ment had been made, moved down on the wire road in the direc-
tion of Springfield.
Having reached the little valley of Wilson 's creek. Col.
Churchill was met by an aid de camp of Gen. Price, asking for a
reinforcement to go to the assistance of Gen. Slack, then being
hard pressed. Col. Churchill immediately moved his regiment
rapidly forward, under a heavy fire, took position on Gen. Slack's
left, and ordered his men to commence firing. Here the 1st Ar-
BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK. 79
kansas fought for al)out four hours, being in front of Totteu's
battery and the 1st Iowa the greater portion of the time. At
times it would advance, then fall back, but its conduct was most
jt'^.ii^irable, there being but little if any straggling or disorder.
It continued to fight unt'l the Federals retreated from the field,
Durins: the engagement Col. Churchill had two horses shot
under him. The lieutenant colonel, Matlock, and the major.
Harper, of the regiment evinced great bravery and gallantry.
Adjutant James Harper, Capt. M. E. Alexander, and Lieuts.
Dawson, Chambers, and Johnson were killed ; Capts. Ramsaur
and Porter, and Lieuts, King, Rmey, Adams, Hardester and Mc-
Ivor were severely wounded, and Capts. Pearson and Gibbs and
Lieuts. Saddler, Wair and Head were slightly wounded. The
1st Arkansas suffered more than any other regiment of Southern
troops engaged in the battle. Its loss was forty-two killed and
one hundred and fifty-five wounded.
In acknowledgment of the conspicuous services rendered by
the 1st Arkansas to his army. Gen. Price, a few days after the
battle caused the following letter to be sent to Col. Churchill : —
Headquarters Missouri State Guard,
Springfield, Mo., Aug. 15,1861.
Colonel : — I am directed by Maj.-Gen. Price to thank you,
in the name of this army and of the State of Missouri, for the
very important services which you and your fine regiment of
Mounted Riflemen have rendered during the campaign in this
State, and do particularly acknowledge, in the most grateful
manner, the eager bravery with which your men met the enemy
on the 10th inst. — the constancy with which they fought, and
the spirit with which they rushed upon and drove back his disci-
plined soldiers. Your own gallantry and skill were so conspic-
uous on that memorable day that every Missouriau will always
cherish the remembrance of you with pride and gratitude.
I have the honor to be, Colonel,
Your obedient servant,
Thos. L. Snead,
Acting Adjt. Gen.
Col. Thos. J. Churchill, Ist Regt. Ark. Mounted Rifles.
SECOND ARKANSAS MOUNTED RIFLES.
This regiment was lead by its commander, Col. James Mcln-
80 BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK.
tosh, into the battle, and took part with the 3d Louisiana in the
fight with Plunimer's regulars, in Ray's cornfield, early in the
morning. When first attacked it was at breakfast, but, instead
of retreating in confusion, rallied at the call of the bugle,
mounted, and was marched by Lieut. -Col. Benj. T.Embry to the
timber on the cast side of Wilson's Creek, north of Woodruft''s
battery. Here it dismounted and stripped for the fight, and
Col. Mcintosh then appeared and took it into the engagement.
After the fight in Ray's cornfield. Col. Mcintosh Avas sent for
by Gen. ^IcCulloch, and Lieut. -Col. Embry took command of
the 2d Arkansas. The regiment moved across cho creek to the
west and became engaged with Lyon's men on Bloody Hill. At
one time it repulsed a desperate charge, losing heavily in so
doing, however. After this, under Col. Embry, the regiment
fell back to the creek ;.nd rested a short time, preparing to re-
ceive a cavalry charge, which it was expected would be made.
It then moved up the hill again, but did not become engaged,
and soon after the Federals retreated.
The loss of the 2d Arkansas was, in killed, one non-commis-
sioned officer and privates; total, 10. Wounded, one captain,
two second lieutenants, eight non-commissioned officers, and 35
privates ; total 44. Total casualties, 54.
M'rAE'S ARKANSAS BATTALION.
Upon the opening of the battle in good earnest, or about 6 a.
M., this battalion, led by its commander, Lieut. -Col. D. H.
McRae, moved up the wire road toward Springfield, and formed
to the left of the 3d Louisiana, and in front of Woodrulf's bat-
tery. In a short time, by Gen. McCulloch's orders, it counter-
marched and moved off across the valley toward the southwest
to take and hold an eminence in that quarter threatened by
Sigel's men. While on its way the battalion was broken up by
a large body of mounted Missourians, who, panic-stricken and '
demoralized, were riding rapidly away from Totton's battery and
the Federals on Bloody Hill. These mounted warriors rode
wildly through the battalion, threatening to trample down the
men uud forcing them to scatter to save themselves. Col. Mc-
BATTLE OF WILSON'S CREEK. 81
Rue was uhle to take but one entire company and a few files of
another into the fight proper.
On arrivinjj at the summit of the hill the battalion wae fired
on by a battery reported as being Bledsoe's, of the Missouri
troops, but in reality was Sigcl's. Thick brush intervening.
Col. McRae was unable to distinguish for himself, but at last
charged at a "trail arms." Within twenty paces of the
Favetteville road a body of men were observed moving rapidly
away, and these were fired on. Here Col. McRae halted and
formed his men so as to sweep the road. In a short time another
body came up, and being dressed like the Confederates, and
some of them calling out, '• We are from the South," deceived
Col. McRae until nearly all of them had passed, when he opened
fire on their rear. He then led his men to the hill where Sigel's
battery had been captured, and here he found the three compa-
nies of the battalion that had been cut off^ by the Missouri horse-
men. The united battalion then marched to the Fayetteville
road to the north, it having been reported that the Federals
Vere reforming there, but this report was found to be untrue,
and Col. McRae returned to camp.
The loss of the battalion was two men killed, one mortally
wounded, one severely wounded, and five slightly wounded.
THIRD ARKANSAS INFANTRY.
This regiment was commanded by Col. John R. Gratiot, and
belonged to the Arkansas State troops. Gen. Pearco's division.
Its lieutenant-colonel, David Provence, and its major, Ward,
were present at the battle.
In the first part of the action the regiment was moved to the
support of Woodrurt**s battery, and here it remained for some
hours under a heavy fire of shot and shell. At about 11 o'clock
Gen. Pearce ordered the regiment to cross the creek and move to
the help of Price's division. Col. Gratiot marched the men over
the stream «nd up the ridge by a flank movement and in column
of fours. When near the Federal position the line was fronted
and faced the enemy, and moved forward, but just then a heavy
fire was opened in front, two guns of Totten's battery turned
82 BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK.
loose on the regiment with grape, and canister and shell, and so
terrific was the ordeal, that the regiment was obliged to lie down
and return the fire in that position. This was the last fight of
Lyon's men, and they kept it up vn\y about thirty minutes,
when they retreated. The 3d Arkansas remained on the field in
position long after the firing had ceased.
After Maj. Sttirgis had retreated with the remnant of Lyons'
divisio^i from Bloody Kill, it was feared that he would cross the
creek, move round to tiie cast and come upon Woodruff's bat-
tery, still in position on the ground it had occupied during the
day. Col. Gratiot's regiment Avas again ordered to the support
of this battery, and here it remained until ordered into camp by
The regiment suffered most during tho thirty minutes it was
engaged with the Federal i n fan tr}-^ (Second Kansas and part of
First Iowa), and Tottcji's battery on Bloody Hill, but it stood
well and gave back blow for blow. Capts. Brown and Bell were
killed and about twenty-five oth«M' brave men and true met their
fate in this battle.
Capt. Woodruff's battery, the '* Pulaski artillerj'," was at-
tached to the Third Arkansas during the battle. This battery
did more execution and service than any other Confederate bat-
tery that took part in the engagement. The damage it inflicted
on the enemy was prodigious. Officers and men behaved with
great coolness, courage and judgment.
The casualties in the Third Arkansas and Woodruff's battery
were : — killed, twenty-five ; wounded, eighty-four ; missing, one ;
total, one hundred and ten.
FOUUTH ARKANSAS INFANTRY.
• The Fourth Arkansas infantry on the morning of the battle
was placed under Adjutant-General Rector, who remained in
command during the day. The regiment was not brought int</
immediato action, being stationed on the hill for the protection
of Reid's battery, and, although exposed to the trial of having
to submit to a severe fire from the enemy, which it .vas unable
to return, all the officers and men behaved with great coolness
during the day. There were none killed or wounded in this
BATTLE OF WILSON* 8 CREEK. 83
regiment. [The colonel of the First Arkansiis, J. D. Walker,
is at prestMit (1883) one of the United States Senators from
FIFTH ARKANSAS INFANTRY.
This, another regiment of Gen. Pearce's division, was com-
manded by Col. Tom P. Dockery, and for abont two hours after
the battle commenced was po.-^ted on the height southeast of
McCulloch's encampment, and occupied a hill east of Wilson's
creek as a guard forReid's battery.
When the Third Louisiana and Third Arkansas moved up
against the Federals on Bloody Hill Col. Dockery sent to their
sui)port Capts. Titsuorth's, Disnnike's, Neal's, Dowd's, Wha-
ling's and Lawrence's companies, all under Lieut. Col. Neal.
While gallantly leading his men Col. Meal fell severely wounded,
and Col. Dockery then assumed command. Only the companies
named were actively engaged against the enemy on Bloody Hill,
the companies of Capti. Hartzig, Arnold.. McKeon and Hutch-
inson bavin jr been detailed to serve as skirmishers at one time
after Reid's battery had changed position. The Fifth Arkansas
did its duty well in this battle, and its conduct was commented
on by Gen. Pearce in the warmest terms. It never wavered
or showed the least sign of demoralization. The loss of the
regiment was three killed and eleven wounded.
FIRST ARKANSAS CAVALRY.
Mention has already been made of the services performed by
this regiment. For a while it supported the Missourians of
Price's division ; then it charged by the flank on Totten's bat-
tery ; then charged again on the position held by the Second
Kansas, and all the ti»ne during the engagement was under fire.
While thousands of other cavalry were demoralized and fleeing
hither and thither, the First Arkansas kept on the field and
sought more than once to charge as cavalry over ground almost
Alpine in character — rugged, rough, precipitous and broken.
Its commander. Col. DeRosey Carroll, was complimented more
than once for the gallant conduct shown by himself and bis reg-
^4 BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK.
The loss of the First Arkansas cjivjilry was five killed ; two
mortally wouiuled; twenty-six severely wounded, and nineteen
missing, as follows : —
Capt. Lewis' company — two killed, two mortally and five
Capt. Park's company — one killed, three wounded, one miss-
Capt. Walker'? company — four wounded, including Capt.
Walker himself, and three missing.
Capt. Withers' company — two killed, four wounded, two
Capt. Perkins' company — four wounded, four missino-.
Capt. Kelly's company — one missing.
Capt. Armstrong's company — one wounded, eight missing.
THE FIRST IOWA iNFANTRY.
The 1st Iowa Infantry was a three mouths regiment whoso
time had expired several days before the battle, but it had
remained on duty with Lyon to aid iiim in his emergency. At
the time of the fight its coloiisl, J. F. Bates, lay sick in Spring-
field, and Lieut. Col. Wm. H. Merritt, led the regiment. As
has been stated the 1st Iowa was in Lyon's column. At the
beginning of the fight it was in the reserve, but advanced when
the 1st Kansas gave way and received the first fire of the enemy
while in a state of some confusion, the result of the retreat of the
Kansaus through the Iowa's ranks. The regiment fired on a
body of Confederate cavalry advancing to charge Totten's bat-
tery, and dispersed it, or drove it back. Soon after the re<yi-
ment became engaged generally, and bore its full share of the
Four companies of the 1st Iowa, and a company of re^^ular
infantry under Capt. Lothrop, supported Totten's battery at the
close of the engagement and covered the retreat, receiving and
returning the last fire of the enemy. The regiment lost 13^
BATTLE OF WILSON* 8 CREEK. 85
killed (including Capt. A. L. Mason) 138 wounded and 4 miss-
ing. Total 155.
FIRST MISSOURI INFANTRY.
The 1st Missouri Infantry was led into the battle of Wilson's
Creek hy its lieutenant colonel, George L. Andrews, its colonel,
Frank P. Blair, being in his seat in Congress at the time. When
Gen. Lyon's column had reached the immediate proximity of
Rains' division, the regiment was brought forward to the head
of the column and directed to march parallel with the advance
— Gilbert's regulars — and about GO yards distant to the right.
In a few moments orders were received to throw one company
forward as skirmishers, and Company H, Capt. Yates, was sent
forward, followed by the regiment in column of companies.
It is claimed that the action was begun by shots from Capt.
Yates' skirmishers. At any rate, soon after they opened fire
Company B was sent up as a reinforcement, and the regiment
wheeled into line and immediately became engaged, at first
returning a fire directed against its left flank. Very soon after
Woodruff's and Gnibor's batteries opened on the Federal posi-
tion and their shells fell uncomfortably plenty among the 1st
Missouri. One or two of the shells which did not explode Avere
examined and pronounced to be those furnished Sigel's batteries,
leading to the conclusion that Sigel was firing by mistake against
The regiment stood well in line and fought bravely. Capt.
Nelson Cole was severely wounded in the jaw, but remained on
the field, and, though unable to speak, from the nature of his
wound, he continued to encourage his men by signs to stand their
ground. Capt. Cary Gratz, of St. Louis, a native of Lexington,
Ky., while advancing at the head of his company, discovered a
body of Confederates advancing, led on by a mounted officer.
Capt. Gratz fired with his revolver and the Confederate officer
fell from his horse, but rose and rushed toward his lines, when
the captain fired again and the other officer pitched headlong to
the ground. Almost immediately Capt. Gratz fell dead, being
pierced by four or five shots.
Capt. John S. Caveuder, with his company, G, was in an
86 BATTLE OF MILSON'S CREEK.
advanced position and several times prevented the left flank from
heini; turned. Col. Andrews, while with tiie left winjj was
severely wounded, but he procured a ))ii; drink of whiskey, and
soon returned to his post. In a few minutes his horse was killed
and fell upon him. Going to Dubois' battery during a lull in
the fighting, Col. Andrews was sent to the rear by Surgeon F.
The Confederates now pressed the 1st Missouri so vigorously
that the regiment in all probability would have given way had
not Maj. Schofield and Gen. Lyon opportunely brought up the
1st Iowa and Maj. Osterhaus (assisted by Lieut. David Murphy,
of the l:t Missouri) come forward with his battalion of the 2d
Mi souri Infantry. The regiment then remained on the field
and did nobly during the remainder of the engagement, and
when ordered to fall back with the main column and leave the
field it did so in good order.
Out of 27 officers who went into the fight, 13 were cither killed
or wounded. Capt. Madison Miller discovered a movement of
the Confederate cavalry to his rear and stopped it by the stout
fight he made with his company, assisted by the artillery. Capt.
Cavendcr, though severely wounded, refused to leave bis post,
mounted his horse and remained until completely exhausted.
Surgeon Carnyn, on more than one occasion, took up a musket
and fought in the ranks. Lieut. David Murphy, although
severely wounded in the leg, went to the rear and assisted in
bringing up Osterhaus' battalion of the 2d Missouri. Adjt. His-
cock and other ofiicers bore themselves so well that they received
Among the men Corporal Kane, of Company K, when tho
color sergeant was killed and nearly all the color guard either
killed or wounded, brought the colors safely off the field. Sergt.
Chas. M. Callahan, Company K, Sergt. Chris. Conrad, of Com-
pany G, and Private Elworthy, of Company F, were noted for
their valuable services and for their coolness and bravery. The
part borne by the 1st Missouri may be imagined when it is
remembered that its loss was 76 men killed, 208 wounded and
BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK. 87
FIRST KANSAS INFANTRY.
On coming upon the l);ittle field in the early morning, the 1st.
Kiinsiis Infantry — led by its colonel, Geo. W. Deitzler, and its-
major, John A. Halderman — was posted in the rear of the 1st.
Misjsourl and 1st Iowa. Very soon Gen. Rains' skirmishers or
ow.tposts were driven in, Totten's battery took position and
opened fire, while the 1st Missouri was sent up and soon became
At this time, under an order from Gen. Lyon, the 1st. Kansas
moved to the front in ♦' double quick," while the right wing
and one company from the left, under command respectively of
Capts. Chenoweth, Walker, Swift, Zesch, McFarland, and Lieut.
McGonigle — all under Col. Deitzler — advanced to a position be-
yond that occupied by the 1st Missouri, and here, forming in
the very face of the enemy, engaged the Confederates and held
their ground steadfastly under an uninterrupted and murderous
fire of artillery and infantry.
The four remaining conipanies of Capts. Clayton, Roberts,
Stockton, and Lieut. Angell, under Maj. Halderman, having
been posted on the right of Totten's battery as support, where
they suffered seveiely from a constant fire, Avero now brought up
by Maj. Halderman, who called out, " Forward boys, for Kan-
sas and the old flag ! " Aligning with remarkable coolness up-
on the retnnant of the six right companies the four left con»pan-
ies settled down to work. With but slijjht and immaterial
changes of position the 1st Kansas occupied this ground for
over two hours, holding its ground and dealing and receiving
While thus engaged, Capt. Chenoweth, Capt. Clayton and a
portion of Capt. McFarland 's company under Lieut. Malone,
were ordered to charge the enemy with their commands, which
order they executed and drove back the Confederates a consider-
able distance, although soon after they were themselves com-
pelled to retire. While leading this charge Col. Deitzler had his
horse killed under him, and was himself severely wounded. The
command then devolved on Maj. Halderman. The regiment
now had a very exposed position, lying in plain view, obliquely
88 BATTLE OF '.VILSON's CRKEK.
across u ridge, but, though it sufTercd severely, it !)ore itself
When the 2d Kansas fell back the 1st formed on its left,
three companies remaining on the brow of the hill, and on the
right of the battery. After the severe volley .iring had ceased
for a few minutes — the Confederates having retired — it was re-
commenced by them again as they advanced, and kept up for
nearly a quarter of an hour, when the whole Federal line, appar-
ently, opened on them and they again retired down the hill. Af-
ter this Ml). Sturgis ordered the retreat.
With scarcely any material change of its position the 1st
Kansas stood under fire and returned it, maintained every
ground assigned it, without turning its back on the foe, for the
five long hours during which the battle raged. Its loss was the
heaviest in killed of the Federal regiments engaged — 77, one
more than the 1st Missouri. It had 187 men wounded and 20
missing; total, 284. It went into action with nearly 800 men,
and left the field in good order with about 500.
THE SECOND KANSAS INFANTRY.
This regiment, as stated in the general description of the bat-
tle, was at first stationed in reserve on a hill on the right of and
overlooking Ray's cornfield, where Plummer's battalion fought.
After Plummer had been driven back and the pursuing Confed-
erates checked by Dubois's battery, Lieut-Col. Chas. W. Blair,
of the 2d Kansas, rode to Gen. Lyon and requested that the
regiment be given a place in the front. Gen. Lyon gave the or-
der and Col. Mitchell brought the regiment forward, in time to
take part in the last grand charge. Prior to this, and early in
the action, before the regiment, as a regiment, was fairly under
fire, a force of Missouri cavalry (presumably of Rains' division)
attempted a flank movement, and Maj. W. F. Cloud, of the 2d,
taking Capt. McClure's company and deploying it, drove them
back after a few volleys.
As the regiment went up to the forefront. Gen. Lyon put him-
self at its head and assisted the field officers in bringing it into
action. Just as the regiment raised the crest of the hill, and
while it was still in column, a terrific fire waf= opened on it, and
iiATTLE OF Wilson's creek. 89
it was under this fire that Gen. Lyon fell dead and Col. Mitchell
was severely wounded. Gen. Lyon was leading the 2d when he
was killed. After Col. Mitchell was wounded, command of the
regiment was assumed by Lieut-Col. Blair and Maj. Cloud, who
threw the men into line, and after a hard tight of fifteen minutes
the Confederates were driven down the hill, and a lull in the con-
About this time Capt. Powell Clayton's company, of the l^st
Kansas, was attached to the left of the 2d, and the companies
of Capts. Roberts, Walker and Zesch, also of the 1st, were
formed on the right. On the right of this position a ravine
stretched down to the enemy, and up this ravine the Confeder-
ates (of John B. Clark's division) attempted to flank Col. Blair.
Some men sent down it from Capt. Cracklin's company did not
leturn, and then Col. Blair himself rode out to see what was the
matter. lie had not gone twenty yards when he '• found what
darkened do hole ! " A sharp fire was opened on him and his
horse killed, but the colonel himself was unhurt, and mounting
51 horse brought him l)y his orderly, Alex. H. Lamb, he was soon
again directing the movementa of his men.
Meantime, aware of the danger in front, Maj. Cloud had gone
back to Sturgis for reinforcements and obtained two guns of
Totten's battery, under Lieut. Sokalski. These came up in good
time. As they stoj)pcd, Capt. Chenoweth, of the 1st Kansas,
rode out to the head of the ravine, and saw the Confederates
coming up it in consideral)le numbers. Cloud and Sokalski got
the guns in po>;ition and opened on the ravine. As the Confed-
erates approached nearer Col. Blair ordered the men to lie down
and load and fire in that position and to be careful of their am-
munition. Here the men received a most terrific fire, which they
seemed to relish. Artillery and musketry were playing on them,
but the shot and shell went too high and only the grape, the
muskets, and the rifles of the enemy did execution. Yet not a
mail broke ranks or left his place in the line. At last the Confed-
erates fell back or slackened their fire and the artillery limbered
up and retired to the rear to join in the general retreat, which
bud been ordered some minutes before.
Maj. Sturgis, on assuming command after Lyon had fallen,
1*0 BATTLE OF WILSOn'r CREEK.
sent Col. Blair word to retreat as soon as iic could do so with
safety, and after the Confederates had fallen back the last time
he did so. The men were hroui^ht oft* in irood order and in slow
time, without a panic or confusion. After crossing the tirst ra-
vine in the rear the line was reformed and marched by the right
flank to the main command and oft' the Wattle Held,
The loss of the 2d Kansas in the battle was 5 killed, 59
wounded, and <» missing — total, 70. Both officers and men be-
haved s[)lendidly. When Col. Mitchell fell he turned over the
command to Col. Blair, saying: " Colonel, take the regiment
and maintain the honor of Kansas. " As he was l)eing carried
from the field he called out to Gordon Granger, of Sturgis'
staftl", " For God's sake, support my regiment. " Of Lieut. -Col.
Blair, it was said ))y Gen. Sturgis that *' he attracted the atten-
tion of all who saw him. " C')l. Mitchell, Lieut. -Col. Blair and
Maj. Cloud were all highly complimented by Gen. Sturgis and
Gen. Fremont and recommended for promotion. Maj.
(yloud, Adjutant Lines and Capt. Ayres were mentioned in Col.
Blair's report as conspicuous for their gallantry.
The share of fighting done by this organization (Light Com-
pany F, 2d Artillery), in the battle of Wilson's Creek was large
and important. Sooi. after the ski'-mishers of Lyon's advance
fired on the Southern pickets, the line of march, as directed by
Gen. Lyon in person, lay through a small valley which debouched
into that through which Wilson's Creek runs at the point imme-
diately occupied by the front of Price's troops and just where a
road to Springfield entered the valley, keeping along the foot of
the hills, and soon after the battery opened. The left section,
under Lieut. Sokalski, was first brought to bear upon the enemy
in the woods in front, and shortly afterward the other four
pi'^ces were thrown forward into battery to the right on higher
ground. A few rounds from the artillery assisted the infantry
in driving the secession troops back toward the crests of the
liilU, nearer and immediately over their own camp.
Capt. Totteii now conducted the battery up the hill to the loft
and front, and soon found a position where he brought it into
BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK. 01
bivttcry directly over the northern position of tlie enemy's camp.
The camp of Gen. Rains' division hiy directly beneath the front
and to the left of, though very close to, the position of the bat-
tery, while a battery of the secessionists (Woodruflfs Arkansas)
was in front and v/ithin easy range. Of ourse Rains' camp was
entirely deserted, and therefore Totten's first efforts were
directed a<2:ainst the Arkansas batterv in his front and riirht.
The right half of Totten's guns were principally directed against
Woodnilf, although the entire six pieces as opportunity offered,
played upon him. The two batteries pounded away on each
other for some time, neither seeming to get much the advantage
of the other. As the position of the Arkansas battery was
somewhat masked by the timber, Totten's gunners were obliged
to give direction t<i their pieces by the flash and smoke of the
In the meantime, while this fight between Totten and Wood-
ruff' was in progress, the battle was raging in the thick woods
and underbrush to the front and right of the position of the Fed-
eral battery, and the 1st Missouri was being hard pressed.
Gen. Lyon ordered Totten t.-> move a section of his battery
forward to the support of the Missouriaus, which was done, the
guns coming up on a run and unlimbering in front of the right
company of the regiment. A Confederate regiment with a Con-
federate flag, which at that distance seemed to be the stars and
stripes, was two hundred yards away, and fearing they might be
friends Totten hesitated before opening. Their fire soon unde-
ceived him and he turned loose his guns upon them with canis-
ter from both pieces.
The next important step in the progress of the battle was
when a portion of Clark's (?) division tried to force its way up
the neighborhood road passing along toward Springfield in order
to turn the Federal right. For a time the situation was critical,
for the Missouriaus were plucky and were fighting hard. Four
pieces of Totten's battery were still in position commanding that
point, and Dubois's four guns were on the left also near the road
and commanding it. As Slack's men came in good view and
range, both artilleiy and infantry opened on them and drove them
92 BATTLE OF WILSON 's CKEKK.
Just lifter this liud been done Gen. Lyon c;ime u[) to the but-
tery and complimented tlie men wlio were working it. Capt.
Totten saw blood trickling from Lyon's heel and the general
said he had been wounded in the leg, l)ut not seriously. The
captain oHVred his commnnder some brandy in a canteen, but
the general refused it, and rode away, and tiiat was the last time
Totten over saw Lyon alive. Soon after leaving Totten, Lyon
sent him word to support the K:in.sas men on the extreme right,
who were being hard pressed. Lieut. Sokalski took up his sec-
tion immediately and saved the Kansans from being overthrown
and driven back.
After this came an attempted charge on the Federal i)osition
by some Missouri, Texas and Arkansas cavalry, of which there
was a great abundance. Some 800 of then., including a battal-
ion or so (>f Greer's Texans and Carroll's Arkansans, fresh from
the southern end of the little valley where Sigrl had been so eas-
ily whipped, formed at the foot of the hill on which four of Tot-
ten's guns stood and were getting ready for a charge, when the
artillery and the infantry oi)encd on them and they were driven
away so rapidly that they were out of sight in a moment.
The last point where the battery was engaged was on the right
of the left wing of the 1st Iowa and somewhat in front. Lyon
was then killed and Sturgis was preparing to retreat. Totten' s
battery was still in action, two pieces in advance on the right so
hot that the water thrown on them almost hissed, and yet pound-
ing awuy. The left wing of the 1st Iowa came up and supported
the guns from the field, and they were brought away off the field
and to Springfield, without the loss of a sponge-stick. The bat-
tery lost 4 killed and 7 wounded ; no prisoners.
This battery so named consisted of four pieces of light
artillery, three six-pounders, and one twelve-pounder, com-
manded by second Lieutenant John V. Dubois, of the U. S.
Mounted Rifles, a semi-cavalry regiment. Lieut. Dubois had
been detailed from his regiment to command this battery, newly
organized and manned by recruits.
Entering the fight Dubois selected his own position, some 80
BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK. 93
yards to the left and rear of Totten's battery, where his men
were partially and his horses entirely protected from the enemy's
fire. He assisted Totten in clearinj^ the aground of the enemy at
the start, and nnder direction of Capt. Gordon Granger (after-
ward a major general), opened on McCulloch's men down in
Ray's cornfield, who had jnst driven back Plummer, and drove
them in disorder, Capt. Granger directing one of the guns. The
Confederates rallied behind a house (J. A. Ray's), on the right
of their line. Dubois striick this house twice with a twelve-
pound shot, when a hospit:il flag was displayed and he ceased
firing. Using small charges of powder, Dubois's guns now
shelled the thicket in the ravine, a short distance in front, and
forced some of Price's Missourians to retiie.
Bledsoe's battery now opened on Dubois from the crest of the
hill opposite and ♦' Old Hi's" fire did great execution. "Old
Sacramento," as Bledsoe's twelve-pounder was called, got in her
work very disadvantageously to the Federals. The shots pass-
ing over Dubois's gun fell among the Federal wounded that had
been carried to the rear and did considerable execution. Dubois
could not entirely silence Capt. Bledsoe's guns, but he made it
very uncomfortable for him. One shot from Dubois's gun,
killed two of Bledsoe's battery horses, tore oflf one arm and all
of the hand of the other arm of the man who held them, Judge
James Young, now of Lexington, and killed another man far in
the rear. While engaged with Bledsoe and his Lafayette county
battery, Lieut. Dubois assisted in driving back the cavalry that
formed to charge on Totten.
During the last charge of Price and McCulloch on Sturgis, two
of Dubois's guns were limbered up to be sent to Totten, but
before a road could be opened through the brush and through
the wounded, orders came for Dubois to fall back to a hill in the
rear and protect a retreat. This he did, remaining until all the
troops had passed when he turneH and marched tow..rd the rear.
Shortly after starting back the twelve-pounder broke down.
While it was being repaired Maj. Osterhaus's two companies
remained with it to protect it, and then followed in its rear until
the main portion of the command on the prairie was reached.
Here the battery joined Steele's battalion and formed the rear
^4 BATTLK OF WILSON's CUEKK.
guard the rest of the way into Spriiigrield, neither tiring or
receiving a shot on the way and not being niole8ted in anywise —
never seeing an enemy. Being well protected during the entire
engagement, the loss in this battery was very slight — none
kided and only two severely wounded. Several of the men and
Dubois himself received slight wounds.
The battalion of regulars commanded by Capt. Fred Steele
was composed of two companies of the 2d regular infantry —
company B, commanded by Sergt. Griffin, and company C,
commanded by Sergt. McLaughlin, a company of "general
service " recruits under Lieut. M. L. Lothrop, and a company
of mounted rifle recruits commanded l)y Lance-Sergeant Morine.
It will l)e seen that Capt. Steele had l)ut one commissioned o^ccv
During the early part of the action the battalion was in
position to support Dubois's bauery, but had no opportunity of
engaging the enemy except to assist in dispersing a body of
cavalry that threatened the rear. Soon after the fall of Gen.
Lyon, Capt. Gilbert's company joined the battalion and Maj.
Sturgis ordered Capt. Steele to form in line of l)attle and advance
against the enemy's front. Heavy firing on both sides followed,
without any apparent permanent advantage to eithei-, until the
suspension of hostilities mentioned before. During this suspen-
sion Lieut. Lothro[) took his company forward as skirmishers,
but they were driven back in very short order and without much
A Confederate field piece (probably one of Guibor's), was run
up under the hill and threw grape and occasionally a shell over
Steele's battalion, but with no serious effect, as the shots passed
to hi<'h. Two other pieces were added and worked vigorously
but not carefully, and with no other effect than to cause Steele's
men to lie close to the ground.
In the last grand charge on Totten's battery and the nuiiu
Federal position, Steele's battalion did good work, the men
tiring away nearly all their cartridges. Just before the retreat
began Capt. Gordon, with his hastily collected detachment from
BATTLE OF WILSON'S CREEK. 95
difforciit regimtMits, and Cupt. Steele repulsed another attack,
and enabled Totten's battery and other commands to retire in
jrood order. On the retreat to Sprin^Held after reachinir the
prairie Capt. Steele commanded the rear guard, and states that
he was not molested at all, •' never seeing an enemy." The loss
of Steele's battalion was 13 killed, 44 wounded, and two pris-
oners. Sergt. Morine commanding the rifle recruits, was killed
on the field.
This battalion performed brave service at the battle of Wil-
son's Creek. It belonged to the 1st U. S. Regular Infantry,
f.nd most of the men had been some time in the service. Fre-
quent reference has already been made to the part it performed
in this battle. Gilbert's company had the advance ui)on reach-
inji the battlefield and was the first thrown forward on the skir-
mish line. The principal portion of the battalion, commanded
by Capt. J. B. Plummer himself, made the fight in Ray's corn-
field against the 3d Louisiana and 2d Arkansas Mounted Rifles,
and afterward engaged in the terrible conflict on and along
The battalion was remarked as much for its coolness as for its
bravery. Upon the retreat of the Federals to Springfield it en-
tered the town in perfect order, the flag flying, the drums beat-
ing, and the men keeping perfect step as if they were on parade
or drill, and as collected and unoxcited as if nothing of conse-
quence had taken place that day.
The battalion was composed of Co's B, C and D, of the 1st
Regulars, commanded l)y, respectively, Capt». Gill)ert, Plum-
mer, and Huston, and Lieut. Wood's squad of Rifle Recruits.
Capts. Plummer and Gilbert were severely wounded, and Capt.
D. Huston then took command Out of 230 men engaged, the
battalion lost 19 killed, 52 wounded and 9 missing — a total of
80, or a little more than one-third of the entire number in the
THE HOME GUARDS.
Two companies of mounted Union home guards — one culled
the Dade county squadron, commanded by Capt. Clark W.
iiATTLK OF Wilson's cueek.
Wright, ami tho other uiulcr Capt. T. A. Switzler — were pres-
ent r.t the battle, but took no very important part. They made
some charges on scattered squads of secessionists, driving them
under cover and out of all danger to the Federal line, but for
the greater portion of the time they were stationed to the rio-ht
and rear of Lyon's pos^ition as a post of observation and to pre-
vent the line from being flanked by the enemy's cavalry. In one
of the charges Capts. Wright and Switzler ascended a hill in
plain view of Gen. Rains' camj), and counted a number of
DISPOSITION OF THE BODY OF GEX. LYON.
Ah, Sir Launcelot. Thou there Mest that never wert matched of earthly
hands. Thou wert the fairest person and the goodliest of a'.iy that rode in the
press of knights. Thou wert the truest to thy sworn brotlier of any that buckled
on the spur; * * '^ and thou wert the sternest knighl to thy mortal foe
that ever laid spear in rest.
For the purpose of ascertaining the truth concerning the death
and burial of the body of Gen. Lyon, the writer hereof caused
certain newspaper publications to be made in the St. Louis He-
publican and other journals, making inquiries pertinent to the
case. Many and varied were the replies, some of which, per-
haps, ought to be given, as illustrating the different lights in
which men see the same object, and the morbid desire for noto-
riety on the part of others, which leads them to lie like book-
agents, in order that their names may be pul)lished in connection
with some notable event. No less than ten newspaper articles
were published and thirty-two written communications were re-
ceived by the compiler relating to the death and burial of Gen.
Lyon. The result was forty-two dilferent versions thereof.
The work of ascertaining the t'-uth was thereby complicated
instead of being facilitated. A aozen or more claimants for the
distinction of having first discovered the body on the battlefield
appeared. Half a score bore the corpse to Gen. Price's tent.
Twenty saw the body, noted its appearance carefully, etc. Know,
ing from incontrovertible proof how the general was dressed
when he was killed, the writer inserted a test question asking
that his garb be described. Two ex-officers, one Union, the
other Confederate, answered that he was '• in full general's uni-
HATTLK OF AVILSON's CKEKK. 97
form." A minister of the gofspcl, wlif> was nlso tiie ** Jirsf to
discover the body,'.' promptly replied that he was "dressed in a
complete suit of l)lack broadcloth, white shirt, gold studs, fine
boots and kid gloves 1 " The majority of the answers, however,
Avere to the same effect, that he was dressed in his old fatigue
uniform of his former rank — that of captain in the
reirular army — without epaulettes or shoulder-straps. Af-
ter much labored investigation the writer has ascertained the
following facts, which he can easily substantiate : —
Gen. Lyon Avas killed while placing the 2d Kansas Infantry it)
position, by a rifle or navy revolver ball through the region of
the heart. He was borne to the rear by Lieut. Schreyer, of Capt.
Tholen's company, 2d Kansas, two other members of the same
regiment, and Ed. Lehman, of Co. B, 1st U.- S. Cavalry, the
latter the soldier Avho caught thp general's body as it fell from
the horse. As the body AA'as borne to the rear, Lieut. "NVm.
Wherry, one of the general's aides, had the face covered, and
ordered Lehman, who was crying like a child, to *« stop his
noise," and tried in other Avays to suppress the neAvs that the
"General had been killed. The body Avas placed in the shade of a
small biack-jack, the face covered Avith half of a soldier's blanket,
the limt)S composed, and in a few minutes there Avero present
Surgeon F. M. Cornyn, Maj. Sturgis, Maj. Schofiold, Gen.
Sweeney, and Gordon Granger, and perhaps other officers. Cor-
nyn examined the body, and from the side of the face Aviped the
blood made by the Avound in the head. He also opened the vest
and split the general's shirts, Avhich were soaked with blood, and
examined the Avound, Avhich Avas found to bo in the heart, the
aorla having been pierced. The minister's story, Avhich he has
the eftrontery to give a newspaper publication, relates that two or
three hours afterward the body Avas neatly dressed, with its
smooth white shirt and studs, kid gloves, etc I Those best ac-
quainted with the personal habits of Gon. Lyon say he never
Avore a pair of kid nloves during his term of service.
Maj. Sturgis ordered the body to be carried back to a place
selected as a sort of field hospital and there to be placed in an
ambulance and taken to Springfield. While the body was here
lying a few Federal officers examined it and one of them reports
that the face had again become bloody, from the AVound in the
^^ hattle of wilsox's cheek.
head, and that the shirt front was irorv from tlic doath wound.
About twenty minutes after the body had been lu-ought back,
Lieut. David Murphy, of the 1st Missouri, who was already
badly wounded in the leg, and Lehman placed the l)ody in an
army wagon, being used as an ambulance, and belonging to Co.
B, IstU. S. Cavalry. This wagon was about to start to Sprin"--
field, and contained already some wounded men. A few minutes
later a sergeant of the regular army came up and ordered the
body taken out, saying, " There will bean anil)ulanco here in a
minute for it." The corpse was then carried beneath the shade
tree where it had before reposed.
The Federal army now retreated, and the ambulance ordered
never came up. Before the Confederates came on to the ground
where the body lay, wliich location was 200 yards northeast of
" Bloody Hill," half a dozen slightly wounded Federal soldiers
had gathered about the dead hero, and an hour after the Federal
retreat a party of Arkansas skirmishers came upon them and
discovering the occasion of the crowd instantly spread the news
that Gen. Lyon had been killed. Immediately there was a great
tumult and the report was borne to Price and McCulloch by
half a dozen. Many were incredulous and did not believe
that a body so plainly dressed — in an old, faded captain's uni-
form, with but three U. S. buttons on the coat and a blue (or
red) cord down the legs of the trousers to indicate that he was
in the military service — was that of Gen. Lyon.
The body was then })laced in a small covered wagon, used as
an ambulance, to l>e conveyed to Gen. MoCulloch's headquarters
(not Gen. Price's) when an order arrived that it should betaken
to Price's and delivered to Dr. S. H. Mclcher, of the 5th Mis-
souri, who, as l)efore stated, had come upon the field in company
with Dr. Smith, Gen.Kains' division surgeon. Dr. Melcher had
been informed by Col. Emmet McDonald that Lyon had been
killed, and at once asked for his body. When the little covered
wagon containing the corpse had driven up and Gen. Price and
Gen. Rains and other officers had viewed the body, it was turned
over to Dr. Melcher. A number of Southern soldiers standing
l)y drew knives and made f-ttempts to cut oft* some buttons or
l)ieces of the uniform as relics, and one or two expressed a wish
to ♦♦ cut his d d heart out ;" but Gen. Kains drew his sword
BATTLE OF AVILSON's CREEK. 99
(or revolver) and swore ho would kill the first man that touched
the corpse, and Emmet jMcDonald denounced the r'lfiianly would-
be viohitors in the harshest terms — and McDonald could be
harsh when he wanted to be !
Beside the body of Gen. Lyon was a wounded man, who was
now taken out, and then Gen. Rains himself and some of his
cavalry escorted the wagon to the house of Mr. Kay, on or near
the battlefield. It is proper now to give the testimony of Dr.
Melcher himself, as given to the writer and furnished the press
for publication. Speaking of the courtesy of Gen. Kains in
escorting the body to Ray's iiouse. Dr. Melcher goes on to say :
Arriving there the body was carried into the house and placed
on a bed ; then I carefully washed his face and hands, which
were much discok)red hy dust and bh)od, and examined for
wounds. There was a wound on the right sida of the head,
another in tlie right leg below the knee, and another, Avhich
caused his death, was by a small rifle ball, which entered about
the fourth rib on the left side, passing entirely through the body,
making its exit from the right side, evidently passing through
both lunjjrs and heart. From the character of this wound it is
my opinion that Gen. Lyon was holding the bridle rein in his
left hand, and had turned in the saddle to give a command, or
words of encouragement, thus exposing his left side to the fire
of the enemy.
At this time he had on a dark blue, single breasted captain's
coat, with the buttons used by the regular army of the United
States. It was the same uniform coat I had frequently seen him
wear in the arsenal at St. Louis, and was considerably worn
and faded. He had no shoulder-straps; his pants were dark
blue ; the wide-brim felt hat he had worn during the campaign
was not with him. After arranging the body as well as circum-
stances permitted, it was carried to the wagon and covered with a
spread or sheet furnished me by Mrs. Ray.
When I was ready to start Gen. Rains said : ♦♦ I will not order
any to go with you, but volunteers may go ; " and Jive Confed
'ei'afe soldiers offered their service of escort. One drove the
team ; the others, being mounted, rode with me in rear of
wagon. The only name I can give is that of Orderly Sergt.
Brackett of a company in ChurchilTs Arkansas regiment.
Another of the escort was a German who in 1863 was clerking
in Springfield, and during the defence of Springfield against the
attack of Marmaduke, January 8, 18G3, did service in the citi-
zens' company of 42 men which was attached to my ♦•Quinine
Brigade " from the hospitals.
100 iiATTLE OF Wilson's ckkek.
The following is a coi)y of a paper written at Mr. Kay's house.
Tlie original 1 now have : — *
Gen. Jnmes S. Rrtins, rommnndint; Missoiiri Stnte (Innrds, hnving IcRrned that
Gen. Lvon. coininrtndiiig United States forces during notion near SpirinKlieiri, Mo.,
Aug. 10, 18til, liKd fiilli-n, kindlv iilVordod military escort and transportation subject
to uiy order. I liave ulso his assurance tliat nil the wounded shnll be well taken
care of and may bo removed under the hospital tiag, and that the dead shnll be
buried as rapidly as possible.
[Signed] S. H. Mklciikr.
Asst. Surg. 5th Keg. Mo. Vols
Wilson Crkek, Aug. 10, 18G1.
The above fitlly approved and indorsed.
[Signed] James S. Rains.
Hrig.-Gen.8th M. D., .M. S. G.
About half way to SpringticUl I saw a party under flag of
truce going toward the battlcticld. Arriving at Springfield, the
tirst otHcer 1 reported to was tiic ever faithful Col. Nelson Cole,
then captain of company E, 1st Missouri Volunteer Infantry,
w'ho, with what remained of his gallant comi)any, was guarding
the outposts. I passed on to the camps of Gen. James Totten
and T. W. Sweeney. Here Gen. Totten relieved my escort and
sent them hack to their command, a new driver was furnished,
anc^ I delivered the body of Gen. Lyon to Maj. J. M. Schofield,
1st Missouri Voamteer Infantry — now Maj. -Gen. Schofield, U.
S. A. — at the house that had been used previous to the battle
by Gen. Lyon for his headquarters.
It is i)roper to state that Dr. Melcher's testimony is corrobo-
rated in part by two survivors of the 1st Arkansas, and by Mrs.
Livonia Green, now of Lane county, Oregon, and also by Mrs.
Jerome Yarbrough, of this county, both of the latter being
daughters of the Mr. and Mrs. Ray mentioned. (Mr. and Mrs.
Rjiy are now dead.)
After Sturgis' army had gotten well on the road to Springfield,
it was discovered that Gen. Lyon's body had been left behind.
Sturgis immediately started back a flag of truce party under
Lieut. Canfield, of the regular army, with orders to go to Gens.
Price and ^IcCulloch, and, if possible, procure the remains and-
bring them on to Springfield. Lieut. Canfield and party went to
the battlefield, saw Gen. McCulloch, obtained his order for the
body (the general remarking that he wished he had a thousand
* The writer has seen and carefully examined the original of this paper. It is
written in pencil, but is quite legible. The handwriting of Gen. Knins was identi-
fied beyond question. The paper was kindly furnished by Dr. Mclcher for the pur-
poses of this history.
BATTLE OF WILSON'S CREEK. 101
other dead Yankee bodies to send olF) and there ascertained that
tiio body had already started for the Federal lines.
When the corpse was deposited in' the former headquarters of
the general, on the north side of College street, west of Main, in
SpringHeld, word was sent to Sturgis. He and Schoficld and
other officers held a consultation, and decided that the body
should be taken with the army to Rolla, if possible. There not
being a metallic coffin in the place, it was determined to embalm
it, or prese"ve it by some artificial process. Accordingly, the
chief surgeon, Dr. E. C. Franklin, was sent for. Responding to
the inquiries of the writer, Dr. Franklin says : —
About ten o'clock p. m., on the night when it arrived at head
quarters, I was summoned there and then first saw the body of
Gen, Lyon lying upon a table, covered with a white si)read, in a
room adjoining the one where two or three of the Union officers
were seated. Gens. Schofield, Sturgis, and others consulted me
as to the possibility of injecting the body with such materials
that would prevent decay during its transit to St. Louis. I pre-
pared the fluid for injection into the body, but discovered that
instead of being retained within the vessels it passed out into the
cavity of the cliest. This led me to suspect a laceration either
of one of the hirgo arteries near the heart, or, possibly, a wound
of the heart itself. This hypothesis, coupled with the fact that
there was an external wound in the region of the heart, con-
firmed my opinion of the utter uselessness of attemi)ting the
preservation of tlie l)ody during its passage to St. Louis. These
facts I reported to the commanding officer, who then gave rne ver-
bal orders to attend to the disposal of the body in the l>est pos-
sible manner. At this time preparations were being made and
the orders given for the troops to retreat and fall back upon
Rolla, some fifty or more miles nearer St. Louis. Returning to
the general hospital, of which I was in charge, I detailed a squad
of nurses to watch by the body of Gen. Lyon till morning,
■which order was faithfully carried out. I then disposed of my
time for the best interests of the wounded and sick under my
Dr. Franklin was furnished with money and directed to have
the general's remains well cared for, and he ordered an under-
taker, Mr. Presley Beal, to make a good, substantial coffin at
once. Early the following morning, in some way, word was sent
to Mrs. Mary Phelps, wife of Hon. John S. Phelps, that the
body of the great Union leader was lying stiff, and bloody, and
102 BATTLE or Wilson's creek.
neglected in the temporary olmrnel house on College street.
Soon she and the wife of Mr. Beal were by liis side, and watch-
ing him. Not long thereafter came the wife of Col. Marcus
lioyd and her two daughters (one of whom, now Mrs. Lula
Kennedy, still resides in SpringHeld), and kept them company.
And so it was that women, ♦« hist at the cross and first at the
tomb," were those who kept vigil over the corse of the dead
warrior, who, although he died the earliest, was one of the great-
est Union generals the war produced.
Tiie body had now lain al)out tu'cnty-four hours in very hot
weather. It was changing fast, and its condition made it neces-
sar}'^ that it should be buried as soon as possible. Mrs. Phelps
left Mrs. Boyd and her daughters and went to see about the
coffin. Dr. Franklin came in and sprinkled the corpse with bay
rum and alcohol. Mr. Beal brought the coffin, and soon a
wagon — a butcher's wagon — was on its way to Col. Phelps'
farm with all that was mortal of the dead hero, and with no
escoit save the driver, Mrs. Phelps, Mr. Beal and one or two
Col. Emmett McDonald, than whom the war produced no more
knightly a soldier, had been made a prisoner by Gen. Lyon, at
the capture of Camp Jackson. When Lyon was killed. Col.
McDonald not only assisted Dr. Melcher in recovering the body,
but Dr. Franklin says of him : —
Here let me do justice to Col. Emmett McDonald, who called
upon me at the general hospital and after some conversation in
regard to the circumstances attending the death of Gen. Lyon,
tendered to me an escort of Confederate troops as a *' ginird of
honor" to accompany Gen. Lyon's remains to the place of
burial, which 1 refused from a too sensitive regard for the painful
occasion, and an ignorance of military regulations touching the
Mrs. Phelps was practically alone at the time. Her husband
was in his seat in the Federal Congress, her son, John E. Phelps,
had followed off the Federal army, and even her faithful servant,
George, had accompanied his young master. But Mrs. Phelps
was a lady not easily daunted, or one that would shrink from
what she considered a duty, no matter how unpleasant it might
be. The body was taken to Mrs. Phelps' residence, and not
BATTLE OF WILSON's CREEK. 103
buried jit once, it beiiif; the undcrstnnding thut it would be sent
for soon. Mr. James Vaughap, who owned a tin-shop in Spring-
field, was ordered to make a zinc case for the coffin, to assist iu
the preservation of its contents.
The coffin was temporarily deposited in an out-door cellar or
cave, which in summer had been used as an ice-house, and in the
winter as an *' apple- hole," and was well covered with straw.
It was here placed about two o'clock on tho 11th. A day or two
later, the slave, George, returned. While tho body of Gen.
Lyon lay in Mrs. Phelps' cellar, the place was visited by some
citizens and nir.ny Southern soldiers. It is much to be regretted
that some brutes there were among the soldiers that treated tho
remains of the dead man with all disrespect, cursing them und
him openly and in the vilest terms. One young officer is re-
ported to have said to Mrs. Phelps: "There is quite a contrast
betwixt the resting plac3 of old Lyon's body and his soul, isn't
there, Madame? The one is in an ice-house ; the other in hell I '*
he added with a heartless chuckle.
At last some drunken ruffians, by threatening to opeh the
coffin and " cut the d — d heart " of tlie body for a relic, so
frightened Mrs. Phelps, causing her to fear that the remains
Avould be mutilated in some horrible manner, that she asked Gen.
Price to send a detail and bury the body. This was done by
volunteers from Guibor's and Kelly's infantry, of Gen. Parsons'
division, at that time encamped on Col. Phelps' farm. It is be-
lieved the body was not buried until the 14th. Tho slave,
George, dug the grave, which was in Mrs. Phelps' garden.
Some of the soldiers stamped on the grave in great delight.
An Irishman told Capt. Guibor, •♦ Be jabers, we shtomped him
On the 22d of August there came to Springfield a party in a
four-mule ambulance, bearing with them a 300-pound metallic
coffin. This party was composed of Danford Knowlton, of New
York City, a cousin of Gen. Lyon ; John B. Hasler, of Webster,
Mass., the general's brother-in-law, and Mr. Geo. N. Lynch, the
well-known undertaker, still of St. Louis. From Rolla in, the
party was accompanied by the gallant Emmett McDonald, who
had been up to arrange for an exchange of prisoners, and from
whom, Mr. Hasler says, they received many attentions and favors.
BATTLE OF WILSON's CKKEK.
Arriving at SpringtieUl, Mr. Ilaslcr says, they vi.itod Gen.
Prioo and handed him a letter from Gen. Fremont cxi)hiining
their mission, Avhich was to hear the body of Gen. Lyon. As tho
letter was directed " To whom it may concern," Gen. Price, after
ghmcing at the address, threw it contemptuonsly aside, saving ho
could read no document thus directed. At the same time he
offered to grant them every facility for procuring the l)ody of
their dead relative.
Repairing to Phelps' farm the party di -interred the hody and
placed it in the metallic coffin, after removing the zinc case made
by Mr. Vaughn. Gen. Parsons, whose division was encamped on tho
farm, came up, introduced himself, and Mr. Hasler says, "showed
us numerous civilities. Among other attentions, he tendered a
guard for the body and team over night, which was accei)ted."
The ne.xt day the party left Springfield and were in KoUa on
the 25th and in St. Louis the 2<)th. Here a military escort
joined. From thence the party proceeded to Eastford, Connecti-
cut, the birthplace of the general, which- place was reached Sep-
tember 4th, there being great receptions and honors paid the
body in the cities and towns en route. September ')th the body
was bui'ied in the family burying ground at Eastford. •• Upon
the coffin, as it lay in the Congregational church when the fu-
neral ceremonies were being rendered," says Mr. Woodward,
who was present, " were placed the hat, a light felt, which the
general had waved aloft when rallying his ranks at Wilson's Creek,
and also the sword, scarred and weather-beaten from sharing in
the long hard service of its owner." The hat was i)rought from
the battlefield by the wounded men in the wagon in which the
geneial's body was first placed, and was given to Mr. Hasler by
the driver, who had preserved it. Both hat and sword were
given to, and since have been in the possession of the Connecti-
cut Historical Society.
Gen. Lyon was born in Eastford, Connecticut, July 14, 1818.
He entered West point in 1837; graduated in 1841, standing
eleventh in a class of fifty. He served in Florida in 1841-2 ; was
in the Mexican war under Taylor and Scott; in California and
on the frontier from 1850 to 1861. He was never married. Tho
statement that he bequeathed his private fortune to the Federal
government IS erroneous.