Page images
[graphic][merged small][merged small]


Drawn on the field, by a participant in the conflict.

[blocks in formation]


[blocks in formation]

O, Kansas Rangers, mounted.
P, Position first obtained by Siegel.

Q, A portion of the enemy's train.

R, Rebel battery, masked.

S, Little York village.

T, Town of Springfield.

U, Fayetteville road.

V, The enemy's cavalry.

W, Third and Fifth Missouri. Siegel's brigade.

X, Price's command.

Y, McCullough's headquarters.

Z, Rains' headquarters.

A Enemy's camp.

Battle of Wilson's

Battle of Wilson's

for himself while he placed | noticed. Under these cirhis men in danger. Indeed cumstances, Major Sturgis he had already unwisely ex- had about determined to posed himself. Seeing blood upon his hat, I cross his command through the valley (the reinquired, "General, are you badly hurt?" to cent northern camp of the enemy) eastward, which he replied, "I think not seriously." and, if possible, make a junction with Siegel on He had mounted another horse, and was as or near the Fayetteville road. Before he had busily engaged as ever. time to give the necessary orders, another attack from the enemy was announced by the volleys of musketry which were heard on our right. Major Sturgis directed his attention that way, and the enemy were again repulsed.

"Captain Totten then reported his cannon ammunition nearly gone. This decided the course to be pursued, and Major Sturgis at once sent the ambulances towards the city, and Lieutenant DuBois' battery back to the

"The Iowa First, under Lieutenant-Colonel Merritt, and part of the Kansas troops were ordered forward to take the place of the Missouris. They fought like tigers, stood firm as trees, and saved us from utter and overwhelming defeat. General Lyon saw their indomitable perseverance and bravery, and with almost his last breath praised their behavior in glowing terms. Three companies of the Iowans were placed in ambush by Cap-hill at the north end of the valley, to protect tain Granger, of the regulars. Lying down close to the brow of the hill, they waited for another attempt of the enemy to retake their position. On they came, in overwhelming numbers. Not a breath was heard among the Iowans, till their enemies came within thirty-five or forty feet, when they poured the contents of their Minnie muskets into the enemy, and routed them, though suffering whirlwind. They flew before him as he pressterribly themselves at the same time. Two Kansas companies afterward did the same thing on the eastern slope, and repulsed a vigorous attack of the enemy.

"Lyon now desired the men to prepare to make a bayonet charge immediately after delivering their next fire. The Iowans at once offered to go, and asked for a leader. On came the enemy. No time could be lost to select a leader. “I will lead you," exclaimed Lyon. "Come on, brave men." He had about placed himself in the van of the Iowans, while General Sweeney took a similar position to lead on a portion of the Kansas troop, when the enemy came only near enough to discharge their pieces, and retired before the destructive fire of our men. Before the galling fire from the enemy, the brave General Lyon fell.

"The command now devolved upon Major Sturgis. There was no certainty that Siegel had been engaged in the fight at all, as our artillery had kept up such a constant roar tnat guns three miles distant were but little

the retreat. Then, in good order, the remnant of the bravest body of soldiers in the United States commenced a retreat, even while they were victorious in battle.


Siegel was experiencing the fortunes of a reverse on the East. He had advanced so rapidly as to surprise the enemy, and, by capturing his pickets, was upon them like a

ed his way toward the Fayetteville road, which he reached, and a fine position was secured on a hill. Having heard the firing suddenly cease in the direction of Lyon's forces, he supposed the Federal attack, like his own, to have been successful; and, that Lyon's troops were pursuing the enemy, he deemed conclusive from the large bodies of the rebels moving towards the South. He stated, in his report;

"This was the state of affairs

Siegel's Report.

at half-past eight o'clock a. M.,
when it was reported that Lyon's men were coming
up the road. Lieutenant Albert, of the Third, and
Colonel Salomon, of the Fifth, notified their regi-
ments not to fire on troops coming in that direction,
whilst I cautioned the artillery in the same manner.
Our troops, at this moment, expected with anxiety
the approach of our friends, and were waving the
flag raised as a signal to their comrades, when at
once two batteries opened their fire against us--one
in front, on the Fayetteville road, and the other
upon the hill upon which we had supposed Lyon's
forces were in pursuit of the enemy, whilst a strong
column of infantry-supposed to be the Iowa regi-




[blocks in formation]

'It is impossible for me to describe the conster

nation and frightful confusion which was occasioned by this important event. The cry, They (Lyon's troops) are firing against us!' spread like wildfire through our ranks; the artillerymen, ordered to fire, and directed by myself, could hardly be brought forward to serve their pieces; the infantry would not load their arms until it was too late. The enemy arrived within ten paces of the muzzles of our cannon, killed the horses, turned the flanks of the infantry, and forced them to fly. The troops were throwing themselves into the bushes and by-roads, retreating as well as they could, followed and at

tacked incessantly by large bodies of Arkansas and

Texas cavalry. In this retreat we lost five cannon (of which three were spiked,) and the colors of the Third-the color-bearer having been wounded and his substitute killed. The total loss of the two regiments, the artillery and the pioneers, in killed, wounded and missing, amounts to eight hundred and ninety-two men."

Siegel stated, as the chief cause of the repulse, that four hundred men of the threemonths troops, (Colonel Salomon's regiment,) whose term of enlistment had expired, were unwilling to go into the fight, and stampeded at the first opportunity. Their defection and insubordination lost all at the critical moment. The affair was, notwithstanding these reverses, a drawn battle. The enemy, after their last repulse by Major Sturgis, retired in confusion and prepared to retreat, fearing an advance by our troops-which would have been the case had not the artillery ammunition given out, as reported. The rebels set fire to and consumed a large train of their stores, munitions and camp equipment, to save their capture by the Federals. This alone proves how nearly the battle was won on the right and front. Had Siegel appeared at that opportune moment, the large army of the enemy (confessed to have been twenty-three thousand strong) would have been overwhelmed with defeat by five thousand five hundred Federal troops!

The Retreat.

upon Rolla, immediately,
since it was evident the
enemy would soon cut off retreat in that
direction. Siegel took command of the
general disposition for the retreat. He was
called upon to exercise all his ingenuity to
get out of the net now thrown around him
by the strong columns of the rebels, who
well knew every rood of soil in that section.
Preparations were begun for the retreat on
the night of the 14th. By daybreak the
Federal columns were on the march towards
the Gasconade. A correspondent, on the
evening of the 10th, wrote: "With a bag-
gage train five miles long to protect, it will
be singular, indeed, if the enemy does not
prove enterprising enough to cut off a por-
tion of it, having such a heavy force of cav-
alry." But, the retreat was safely effected,
and the vicinity of Rolla was reached Satur-
day, August 19th. There the three-months
men were disposed for disbandment, and the
gallant Iowa First was sent forward immedi-
ately to St. Louis to be mustered out of ser-
vice-its term having also expired.

The Losses.

The official reports of the Federal losses showed them to be as follows: killed, two hundred and twenty-three; wounded, seven hundred and twenty-one; missing, two hundred and ninety-two. Of the wounded, two hundred and eight were of the First Missouri; one hundred and eighty-one of the First Kansas, and one hundred and thirty-eight of the First Iowa volunteers; proving how obstinately these regiments must have fought. It is a record of blood, but also one of honor. Well did the troops win the right to have "Springfield” blazoned on their banners!

The rebel loss was equally great. Price confessed his own division of five thousand two hundred and twenty-one officers and men to have suffered to the extent of one hundred and fifty-six killed, five hundred and seventeen wounded. In this proportion for the other divisions the killed and woundThe Federal forces, un- ed would reach a sum greater than that of der Major Sturgis, fell the Federalists. Ben McCullough in his offiback, in good order, towards Springfield—cial report stated their entire loss to have the enemy not pursuing-another proof of their own repulse. After the arrival at Springfield it was determined to fall back

The Retreat.

been two hundred and sixty-five killed and eight hundred wounded. There is good reason for believing these figures to be greatly

« PreviousContinue »