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pieces of artillery, and 6,000 horsemen, without a prospect of success. There armed with flint-lock muskets, rifles and were officers in the Union ranks of signal shot-guns. General Price gives the num- ability, who, on previous occasions, had ber of the Missouri State forces 5,221, led their men to victory over superior officers and men. Major Sturgis men- forces. Good generalship and resolute tions the force of General Lyon's division bravery might at this time also gain the in the field at 3,700, to which are to be day. In the council of war held by Genadded some 1,200 with Sigel, making eral Lyon, it is said that his officers the actual combatants on the Union side generally were in favor of a retreat from at about 5,000. Major Sturgis sets down Springfield. General Sweeny, however, the enemy's force, in the aggregate, at warmly advocated making a stand in 23,000. The troops of General Lyon face of the enemy, meeting them boldly, were, many of them, freshly-raised, inex- and withdrawing only on compulsion. perienced recruits, who had been hastily In the action which ensued at Wilson's summoned to take the place of the three Creek, he was attached to the staff of months' volunteers who had left the camp General Lyon, and was especially disupon the expiration of their short term tinguished for his courageous services in of enlistment.
the field. Under these circumstances, it might On Friday, the 9th, it was determined have seemed the part of prudence and in both camps to make an advance within discretion to retire. There were some twenty-four hours. Orders were issued peculiarities in the case, however, which, the afternoon of that day to the rebel to so ardent patriots as the commander forces to march in four separate columns and his officers, determined a contrary at 9 o'clock that night, so as to sur
If they retreated, the moral round Springfield and begin a simultaadvantage would be still greater than the neous attack at daybreak. “The darkmaterial, to the foe. The Union cause ness of the night and a threatened storm, would be broken in a large part of the however," continues General Price in State ; its defenders would lose heart his report, “caused General McCulloch, and submit to their resolute assailants ; just as the army was about to march, to an important region, including the mili-countermand this order, and to direct tary resource of the lead mines, would that the troops should hold themselves be gained at once, and the northern and in readiness to move whenever ordered. central portions of the State would be The men were thus kept under arms till open to attack. Nor could the numer- toward daybreak. The morning of Satous trains of the Union forces be led urday, the 10th of August, found them away in safety with a greatly superior still encamped at Wilson's Creek, faand unchecked army vigorously engaged tigued by a night's watching and want in the pursuit. A sacrifice, in fact, to of rest.' the minds of these patriots, appeared ne- General Lyon, meanwhile, on that cessary for a great cause ; and when an Friday afternoon, was making his dispooffering on the altar of his country was sitions for an attack on the enemy the required, General Lyon willingly pre- following morning. The command was sented himself. Nor was the battle
* Gen. Price to Gov. Jackson. Springfield, Aug. 12, 1851
arranged to move in two columns. The Lyon,” says Major Sturgis, “marched first, under General Lyon, consisted of from Springfield at 5 o'clock P. M., on the three brigades, led respectively by Major 9th, making a detour to the right-at S. D. Sturgis, a gallant officer of the 1 o'clock in the morning arriving in view regular army of much experience, who of the enemy's guard-fires. Here the had joined the Union forces from Fort column halted and lay on their arms Leavenworth ; Lieutenant - Colonel An- until the dawn of day, when it again drews of the 1st Missouri Volunteers, moved forward, Captain Gilbert's comand Colonel Dietzler of a Kansas regi- pany, which had formed the advance ment. Major Sturgis' brigade included during the night, still remained in ada battalion of regular infantry under vance, and the column moved in the Captain Plummer, Captain Totten's light" same order in which it had balted. A battery of six pieces, Major Osterhaus' south-easterly direction was now taken, battalion of Missouri Volunteers, Cap- with a view to strike the extreme northtain Wood's mounted company of Kan- ern point of the enemy's camp. At daysas Volunteers, and Lieutenant Canfield's light a line of battle was formed, closely company of regular cavalry. Lieuten- followed by Totten's battery, supported ant-Colonel Andrews' brigade embraced by a strong reserve. In this order we Captain Steele's battalion of regulars; advanced, with skirmishers in front, until Lieutenant Dubois' light battery of four the first out-post of the rebels was enpieces, one of them a 12-pounder gun ; countered and driven in, when the coland the 1st Missouri Volunteers. The umn was halted and the following dispothird brigade was made up of the 1st and sitions made, viz: Captain Plummer's 20 Kansas and 1st Iowa Volunteers, the battalion, with the Home Guard on his former under Colonels Deitzler and left, was to cross Wilson's Creek and Mitchell, with two hundred mounted move toward the front, keeping pace Missouri Home Guards. Colonel Sigel's with the advance on the left opposite column or division consisted of the 3d bank, for the purpose of protecting our and 5th regiments Missouri Volunteers, left flank against any attempt of the ena company of cavalry under Captain emy to turn it. After crossing a ravine, Carr, another of 2d Dragoons, under and ascending a high ridge, we came in Lieutenant Farrand, a company of re- full view of a considerable force of the cruits under Lieutenant Lothrop, 4th enemy's skirmishers. Major Osterhaus' artillery, and a light battery of six battalion was at once deployed to the pieces. The attack was to be made right, and two companies of the 1st Misat daylight by General Lyon, on the souri Volunteers, under Captains Yates enemy's left, and by Colonel Sigel on and Cavender, were deployed to the left, his right. The reports of these two all as skirmishers. The firing now bemovements by Major Sturgis, the second came very severe, and it was evident we in command to General Lyon, and his were approaching the enemy's strongsuccessor on the field, and by Colonel hold, where they intended giving battle. Sigel, furnish the authentic narrative of A few shells from Totten's battery assistthe battle of Wilson's Creek.
ed our skirmishers in clearing the ground “The main column, under General in front. The 1st Missouri and lst
MAJOR STURGIS' COLUMN.
521 Kansas moved at once to the front, sup- side of the valley, and at a greater disported by Totten's battery and the 1st tance from us ; the line of fire of the two Iowa regiment ; Dubois' battery, Steele's batteries being nearly perpendicular to battalion and the 2d Kansas were held in our own. After about ten or twelve reserve. The 1st Missouri now took its shots on either side, the firing ceased, position in the front, upon the crest of a and we neither heard nor saw anything small elevated plateau. The 1st Kansas more of General Sigel's brigade until was posted on the left of the 1st Missou- about 81 o'clock, when a brisk cannonri, and separated from it some sixty ading was heard for a few minutes, about yards on account of a ravine. The 1st a mile to the right of that heard before, Iowa took its position on the left of the and from two to three miles distant. 1st Kansas, while Totten's battery was Our whole line now advanced with much placed opposite the interval between the energy upon the enemy's position. The 1st Kansas and 1st Missouri. Major firing, which had been spirited for the Osterhaus' battalion occupied the ex- last half hour, now increased to a contintreme right, with his right resting on a uous roar. During this time Captain ravine which turned abruptly to our Totten's battery came into action by secright and rear. Dubois' battery, sup- tion and by piece, as the nature of the ported by Steele's battalion, was placed ground would permit (it being wooded, some cighty yards to the left and rear of with much undergrowth), and played Totten's guns, so as to bear upon a pow- upon the enemy's lines with great effect. erful battery of the enemy, posted to our After a fierce engagement, lasting perleft and front, on the opposite side of haps half an hour, and in which our Wilson's Creek to sweep the entire pla- troops retired two or three times in more teau upon which our troops were formed. or less disorder, but never more than a
“The enemy now rallied in large force few yards, again to rally and press fornear the foot of the slope, and under con- ward with increased vigor, the enemy siderable cover, opposite our left wing, gave way in the utmost confusion, and and along the slope in front and on our left us in possession of the position. right toward the crest of the main ridge Meanwhile, Captain Plummer was orderrunning parallel to the creek. During ed to move forward on our left, but this time Captain Plummer, with his four meeting with overpowering resistance companies of infantry, had moved down from the large mass of infantry in the a ridge about 500 yards to our left, and corn-field in his front and in the woods separated from us by a deep ravine, and beyond, was compelled to fall back ; but reached its abrupt terminus, where he at this moment Lieutenant Dubois' batfound his further progress arrested by a tery, which had taken position on our large force of infantry occupying a corn- left flank, supported by Captain Steele's field in the valley in his front. At this battalion, opened upon the enemy in the moment an artillery fire was opened from corn-field a fire of shells with such marka high point about two miles distant, and ed effect, as to drive him, in the utmost nearly in our front, from which Colonel disorder and with great slaughter, from Sigel was to have commenced his attack. the field. This fire was answered from the opposite "There was now a momentary cessation of fire along nearly the whole line, oring to rally our troops, which were at except the extreme right, where the 1st this time in considerable disorder, his Missouri was still engaged with a supe- horse was killed, and he received a rior force of the enemy, attempting to wound in the leg and one in the head. turn our right. The General having He walked slowly a few paces to the rear been informed of this movement, sent the and said, 'I fear the day is lost. I then 2d Kansas to the support of the 1st Mis- dismounted one of my orderlies and tensouri. It came up in time te prevent dered the horse to the General, who at the Missourians from being destroyed by first declined, saying it was not necesthe overwhelming force against which sary. The horse, however, was left with they were unflinchingly holding their po- him, and I moved off to rally a portion sition. The battalion of regular infantry of the Iowa regiment, which was beginunder Captain Steele, which had been ning to break in considerable numbers. detailed to the support of Lieutenant In the meantime the General mounted, Dubois' battery, was during the time and swinging his hat in the air, called to brought forward to the support of Cap- the troops nearest him to follow. The tain Totten's battery. Scarcely had 20 Kansas gallantly rallied around him,
2d these dispositions been made, when the headed by the brave Colonel Mitchell. enemy again appeared in very large In a few moments the Colonel fell, seforce along our entire front, and moving verely wounded ; about the same time a toward each flank. The engagement at fatal ball was lodged in the General's once became general, and almost incon- breast, and he was carried from the field ceivably fierce along the entire line ; the a corpse. Thus gloriously fell as brave enemy appearing in front often in three a soldier as ever drew a sword-a man or four ranks, lying down, kneeling, and whose honesty of purpose was proverbial standing, the lines often approaching to a noble patriot, and one who held his
-a within thirty or forty yards of each life as nothing when his country demandother, as the enemy would charge upon ed it of him. Captain Totten's battery and be driven Of this dire calamity I was not in. back. Early in the engagement the 1st formed until perhaps half an hour after Iowa came to the support of the 1st its occurrence.
In the meantime oui Kansas and 1st Missouri, both of which disorderly line on the left was again ralhad stood like veteran troops, exposed lied, and pressed the enemy with great to a galling fire of the enemy. Every, vigor and coolnesse particularly the 1st available battalion was now brought into Iowa regiment, which fought like veteraction, and the battle raged with unabat- ans. This hot encounter lasted perhaps ed fury for more than an hour, the half an hour. After the death of Genscales seeming all the time nearly equally eral Lyon, when the enemy fled and left balanced, our troops sometimes gaining the field clear, so far as we could see, an a little ground, and again giving way a almost total silence reigned for a space few yards to rally again. Early in this of twenty minutes. Major Scotield now engagement, while General Lyon was informed me of the death of General leading his horse along the line on the left Lyon, and reported for orders. The reof Captain Totten's battery, and endeav- sponsibility which now rested upon me