History of Greene County, Missouri

R. I. Holcombe, Editing Historian

Chapter 9
The Battle of Wilson's Creek—Concluded

Part 1
The Southern Side of the Story — The part taken by McCulloch's Army — Preparations for a March on Springfield — A Light Rain 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 Fighting — 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 Log by Regiments and Battalions — The Confederate Loss by Divisions — Disposing of the dead — Greene County men at Wilson's Creek — Campbell's Confederates — Col. John E. Phelps on his Own Hook — the Home Guards at Springfield — The Cannings is a-firing!" — The Retreat from Springfield — Care of the Federal Wounded — The Army Sets Out — Hundreds of Citizens Follow it.


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 made have been derived from the most authentic sources possible to be consulted. Official reports of Gens. McCulloch, Price, Clark, Pearce and Rains, and numerous letters from distinguished Confederate officers who were in the fight, and statements of private soldiers who are men of truth and veracity, have been relied upon to furnish the information herein set down. The writer returns his sincere thanks to those Confederate officers, scattered from the Iowa line to the Rio Grande, who have responded to his request for information so promptly and so fully, and in such well written letters.


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 night. [331]

Just after dark a light rain fell, and it was very dark and a heavy rain storm seemed to be coming up. McCulloch well knew that many of the Missouri troops were not supplied with cartridge boxes, or cartridges either, and that if they moved out from under shelter and it rained hard, as it promised to do, their ammunition would become wet and unserviceable, carried, as much of it would be, in powder-flasks, cotton sacks and shot-pouches. There was also danger that in the Egyptian darkness that had settled 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, McCulloch 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 sleep was had, however, for lack of all proper accommodations, and because of the myriads of mosquitoes on the warpath that night up and down the valley 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, somewhere near the present site of Dorchester.

In his official report to the Confederate Secretary of War, Gen. McCulloch states that his effective force at the battle of Wilson's Creek was 5,300 infantry, 6,000 cavalry, and 15 pieces of artillery. The majority of the cavalry were armed only with rifles, revolvers, shotguns, 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.


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 Gen. Price got up in great impatience and sent for McCulloch, who soon afterward arrived, accompanied by Col. James McIntosh (of the 2d Arkansas Mounted Riflemen), his assistant adjutant general. "Gen. Price and I were just sitting down to breakfast, " says Col. Snead, and they sat down with us.

As the officers were eating, a messenger came running up from the front where Gen. Rains' division was posted, 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 musketry.

"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 another messenger, came up and reported that the Federals were not more than a mile away, and had come suddenly upon Rains' men as they lay on their arms and had driven them back. McCulloch again said, "O, nonsense! That'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." He had hardly spoken when Totten's battery unlimbered and sent its first shot and about the same instant Sigel'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 Sigel'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 distasteful in more ways than 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 disadvantage to the Southern cause. They stripped 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 battle 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 Fayetteville road, but found it held by Sigel and his Germans. [332-333]


The Missourians under Rains were first attacked by Lyon. Rains had his division under arms and in line with commendable promptness. A great many of his men scattered, it is true, but the majority were soon in rank's and fighting the enemy. Rains' division was a large one, including all the men from the populous secession counties of Saline, Lafayette, Jackson, Johnson, Jasper, and Pettis, and it held that part of the line in front of Totten's battery. Gen. Price instantly ordered the other division commanders, 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 convinced of some 1,200 or 1,500 men, mounted and dismounted, temporarily 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 himself, 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 position on the left of Col. Kelly and commanded a flank movement on the right of the enemy, which movement was unsuccessful. (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 duty. It is not believed that he had a division).

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 enemy, 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-barreled shot-guns getting in their work now very effectively. After a few minutes steady firing the Missourians were driven back. [334]


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 Louisiana 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 the fence enclosing Ray'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 beside and stalk and tassel bad 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 anything 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 husbandman had reaped before. The two regiments were driven back with some loss and considerable confusion, but soon reformed and were taken charge of by McCulloch in person, who led them to another part of the field.

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 endeavoring to sustain themselves in the center and were hotly engaged on the sides of the height upon which the enemy was posted. Early in the fight, the 1st Regiment of Arkansas Mounted Rifles which had been driven out of its camp by Sigel and had formed a few hundred yards to the north, was brought up by Price's order to the support of Gen. Slack, and formed on his left. Here it fought during the battle, led in person by its commander, Col. T. J. Churchill,1 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 2d Arkansas Mounted Rifles, Col. B. T. Embry, also fought with the Missourians against Lyon, losing 11 killed and 44 wounded.

Then came the "forward and back" period of fighting described in the Federal account, which lasted for hours. Sometimes the advantage was with one party, sometimes with the other. The firing, both of infantry and artillery, was incessant. Many deeds of gallantry and heroism were performed enough to immortalize the memory of ally one of the perpetrators. [335]

One unfortunate thing, brought 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 performed at Wilson Creek, while the chances are that instead of displaying any remarkable 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, were rendered that day of battle on Wilson's creek, but these shameless liars one often meets with did none of them.

From nearly every quarter of Missouri had come the Missourians who this day fought under the flag of the grizzly bears and against the stars and stripes. Slack had men from off the Iowa line; John B. Clark had men from the Northeast (properly belonging to Harris' division, not then south of the Missouri) whose homes were in sight of Hannibal and of the great Mississippi 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 McBride'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 Missouri towns, had come some men to fight against what they believed to be Federal tyranny 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 battleground.

And they all fought well, those in line, whether advancing or retreating—firing or falling back. Not any better than the Federals, 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 starting toward the front where Lyon was, to join their own division, Major's men were all broken up by large bodies of other horsemen, who, seeking to escape from Totten's grape and Dubois' shells and the Kansas men's musket balls, rode through Major's ranks in all directions, dividing the forces and communicating their own terror to those about them, so that the colonel was left with only one company. [336]

Assisted by Clark's adjutant general, Col. Casper W. Bell, of Brunswick, Chariton county, and Capt. Joseph Finks, the colonel (Major) succeeded in gathering up some 300 men with whom he returned to the rear and assisted in the defeat of Sigel. 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 preparing 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 the fight had been going on nearly six hours and victory was not yet certain for either side, McCulloch came back from whipping Sigel and brought with him the Louisanians, Carroll's (Arkansas) and the greater portion of Greer"s (Texas) cavalry, Col. Tom P. Dockery's 5th Arkansas infantry, McIntosh's 2d Arkansas rifle regiment, under Lieut. Col. Embry, Gratiot's 3d Arkansas regiment, and McRae's regiment. Reid's battery was also brought up.


The terrible fire of musketry was now kept up alone, the whole side and top of the hill on which the enemy was posted. Masses of infantry fell back and again rushed forward. The summit of the hill was covered with the dead and wounded. Both sides were fighting with all desperation for the victory. Gens. Price and McCulloch 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 Carroll's and Greer's regiments, and a mass of Missourians were formed to go up the valley and fall upon the Federal left, but, as before stated, Dubois' battery and the Federal infantry scattered the horsemen before they could get fairly into line. [337]


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 Pearce'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, they relied solely on their muskets, and did most effective work in the center of the line. Reid's battery was also ordered forward, and Hebert's Louisianians were again called into action on the left of it. Guibor's battery, of Parsons' division, opened with canister on the Federals, and terrible was the din and the slaughter.

Now the battle became general and violent and bloody. Hot as a furnace was the hollow in which the Confederates fought, made so by the blazing August sun overhead. Hot as Tophet it became, made so by gunpowder, and lead and iron, and sweat and blood. Probably no two opposing 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 possession of the Southerners.

The battle ended suddenly, "as quick as a clap of thunder ceases" one describes 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 had stood was 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 McCulloch had 6,000 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 off from Springfield and captured on the both prairies west of town, seems inexcusable, 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 not 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 of his own. [338]


When Sigel came upon the southern end of the Confederate camp the troops he encountered were Churchill's Arkansas regiment, Greer's Texas Rangers and about 700 mounted Missourians under command of Col. James P. Major and Col. Benjamin Brown, of Ray county, the latter the President of the Missouri State Senate. These troops, taken unawares, were speedily pushed back up the valley across the Fayetteville road. It was at this part of the line.—the Confederate right as it faced toward the east,—where McCulloch's Confederates were stationed. When Lyon first opened and alarmed the camp, McCulloch hastened back from Price's headquarters, and took up two of his best regiments (Hebert's and McIntosh's), to the assistance of his comrade-commander. The absence of these troops weakened the position of McCulloch very materially, and Sigel had matters his own way for a time. Pearce's division of Arkansas State troops were put in position, somewhat in reserve.

When McCulloch became fully aware that the Federal attack on the south or right was so formidable and so fraught with danger to the entire army, he brought back the Louisiana and Arkansas regiments, and forming them with some of Pearce's division, and Major's and Brown's cavalry, advanced to attack Sigel. The Louisianians and McIntosh's regiment had got the worst of it, in the end, in the fight in Ray's cornfield, but they came up to the work now in brave style. The attack was being made on Sigel's and Salomon's regiments, and the four guns of Schaeffer and Schuetzenbach. There was only scattering firing on the part of the Federals, who mistook the character of the advancing hosts. It was no fault of McCulloch's men, however, that Sigel was deceived. The Louisianians were not to blame that they were mistaken for the Iowa regiment because of their dress.1

On they 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 them. Then followed the events heretofore described—the vain attempts to rally—the disorderly panic-stricken flight—the captures and the pursuit. It must not be forgotten that just before the charge was made, Reid's Arkansas battery opened on the unsuspicious Federal Germans, and they were already in confusion when the Confederate infantry and cavalry were precipitated upon them. Capt. Hiram Bledsoe's Missouri battery, from Lafayette county, with "Old Sacramento," a noted 12-pounder, and three other guns, also did effective work against Sigel, under direction of Col. Rosser, of Weightman's brigade. [339]

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, McCulloch's troops took a conspicuous part, as before detailed; and of course but for the part taken by McCulloch's and Pearce's men the victory could not have been won.


Dies iroe! O, the moaning and wailing that were all over the land west of the great Father of Waters when the full tidings of the battle of Wilson Creek were learned! From Dubuque and Baton Rouge, from Iowa and Texas, from Louisiana and Kansas, and from every country in Missouri, there went up a sobbing player 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 waxen, or clotted with blood, these men who had died to please the politicians. In cozy, shady nooks where fairies might delight to dwell; out in the glare of the blazing sun, festering and corrupting in cornfield 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 limb; with bowels torn out, with faces shattered, heads, torn to pieces, handsome countenances distorted into ghastly, grinning objects—dead 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 bandage, 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 sawing and clumsily bandaging; in ambulances jolting off towards Springfield; limping along to hide and escape another hurt—wounded men everywhere.

Blood everywhere. On the blades and the silks of the corn; on the leaves of the pretty green bushes. [340]

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 bonnie Wilson's creek; flecking the wheels of the guns and daubing the stocks of the muskets; clinging in loathsome gouts to the stems of wild flowers—blood everywhere—human blood—and the best blood of the Republic, too.

Messieurs, the politicians, are you satisfied now?


The strength of both of the contending armies at the battle of Wilson's Creek is here given as nearly as it has been possible to obtain it. It is believed that the Federal strength has been very definitely learned; that of the combined Southern forces has been approximated in regard to two or three commands in McCulloch's division.


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, infantry, cavalry, and artillery, not including the two companies of home guards under Capts. Wright and Switzler.

Sigel's column consisted of 17 companies of infantry, (8 of the 3d Missouri and 9 of the 5th Missouri) numbering 912 men; six pieces of artillery, 85 men; and two companies of cavalry, 121 men;—Total of Sigel's column, 1,118. Total Federal strength, 4,839—with Wright's and Switzler's home guards, 5,000.


Without giving exact details, Gen. McCulloch says, in his official reports to Gen. Cooper, Adjutant General of the Confederate States:

My own effective force was 5,300 infantry, Woodruff's and Reed's batteries, and 6,000 horsemen." Total, about 11,550. [341]

Gen. Price's division was composed of the following sub-divisions:—





Gen J. S. Rains'




Gen. W. Y. Slack's




Gen. J. H. McBride's


Gen. M. M. Parsons'.




Gen. John B. Clark's (sr.)








And Bledsoe's and Guibor's batteries, probably


Grand total of Price's Missourians3


July 30, at Cassville, Gen. McCulloch reported his force and that of Gen. Pearce, as numbering in aggregate 5,700, "nearly all well armed." (Rebellion Records, vol. 3, series I, p. 622.) Gen. Pearce loaned the Missourians 600 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, number about 7,000 men. In round numbers the Southern troops numbered about 12,000 at the battle of Wilson's Creek; the Federal or Union forces, 5,000.


As officially reported, and on file at this day, was as follows:





First Kansas Volunteers




Second Kansas Volunteers




First Missouri Volunteers




First Iowa Volunteers




Capt. Plummer's Battalion




Company D, 1st Cavalry, Capt. Elliott




Capt. Steels Battalion




Capt. Carr's Company




Capt. Wood's Company Kansas Ranger




Capt. Wright's Dade County Home Guard




Capt. Totten's Battery




Capt. Dubois' Battery




Col. Sigel's Regiment, 3d Missouri




Col. Salomon's Regiment, 5th Missouri








Of the wounded 48 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. [342]

Wounded.—Gen. Sweeney; Col. Deitzler, 1st Kansas, (twice);

Col. Mitchell, 2d Kansas; Lieut. Col. Merritt, 1st Iowa; Lieut. Col. Andrews, 1st Missouri; Adjt. Waldron, 1st Iowa; Capt. Plummer, of the regulars.


Gen. Slack's Division.—Col. John T. Hughes' brigade, killed, 36; wounded 76 (many mortally); missing 30. Among the killed were C. H. Bennet, adjutant of Hughes' regiment; Capt. Chas. Blackwell, of Carroll county, and Lieut. Hughes. Col. Rives's brigade lost 4 killed and 8 wounded; among the killed were Lieut. Col. Austin, of Livingston county, a member of the Legislature, and Capt. Enyart.

Gen. Clark's Division.—Infantry loss, 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. Burbride, both severely, and Capt. D. H. McIntyre, now attorney general of the State.

Gen. Parsons' Division.—Infantry loss, 9 killed and 38 wounded; cavalry loss, 3 killed and 2 wounded; artillery, Guibor's battery, 3 killed and 7 wounded. Among the killed was Capt. Coleman, of Grundy county. Col. Kelly, commanding the infantry, was wounded in the hand.

Gen. McBride's Division.—Total loss, 22 killed, 124 wounded. Among the latter were Col. Foster (mortally) and Capts. Nichols, Dougherty, Armstrong, and Mings.

Gen. Rains' Division.—Weightman's brigade, 35 killed, 111 wounded. Cawthorn's brigade, 21 killed and 75 wounded. Among the killed were Col. Richard Hanson Weightman, commanding 1st brigade, and Major Chas. Rogers, of St. Louis.

Two other prominent officers were killed —Col. Ben Brown, of Ray county, commanding cavalry with McCulloch's army, and Col. Geo. W. Allen of Saline county, of Price's staff. 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 Prioc's loss, according to the official reports, was— killed, 156; wounded 609; missing, 30. [343]

McCulloch's Army.—The losses of McCulloch's army in detail cannot now be learned; his official report states that in the aggregate it was 109 killed, 300 wounded and 50 prisoners. Among the officers killed were Capt. Hinson, of the Louisiana regiment; Capt. McAlexander, and Adjutant Harper, of Churchill'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, Ramsaur and Porter, and Lieutenants, Dawson, Chambers, Johnson, King, Raney, Adams, Hardistor, McIvor, and Saddler.

The aggregate Southern loss was not far from 265 killed, 900 wounded, and 80 prisoners. A little heavier than that of the Federals, 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 handled.


The dead at Wilson's Creek were not well disposed of. All were given hasty and rude sepulture. Of course the Confederate slain fared the better, being buried by their own comrades. The Union dead were put under ground as soon as possible, and with but little ceremony. In an old well, near the battlefield, fourteen bodies were thrown. In a "sink-hole" thirty-four of their corpses were tumbled. The others were buried in groups here and there, and the burial heaps marked. In many instances, a few Federal soldiers were present when the burials were made, 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 Federals along the line of Sigel's retreat, several days after the battle, 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 neighborhood.

The weather was hot—oppressively so. Putrefaction soon set in; there was a scarcity of coffins and coffin-makers, and coffin-maker's materials, and perhaps the Confederates did the best they could. Their own dead were, in many instances, given imperfect burial. [344]

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 battleground, 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, 185.


Fighting with McBride's division of Missouri State Guards was Capt. Dick Campbell's company of Greene county men. This company was mounted, and early in the light was sent, to the westward to the right of Lyon's position, and to the extreme left and a little to the front of Gen. Price's division. Here it remained, watching the Federals, that they did not flank the secessionists' position. When the fight was about over, the company withdrew from its position and came on to the main field. The men were very thirsty. Running down to a spring and stooping to drink of the cool water, a squad of Campbell's men were fired upon by some lurking Federals, and the crystal fluid was tinged with crimson. One soldier, Martin McQuigg, was shot through the body and mortally wounded, Another, Dr. A. V. Small, was wounded, but not seriously. McQuigg died in a day or two. C. T. Frazier was also wounded, having his arm broken. Louis Tatum had a horse killed under him.

On the Federal or Union side, there were but few men who took a part, although back at Springfield stood at least 1000 men ready and eager to rush to the assistance of Lyon and Sigel at any stage of the fight, from the crack of the first musket to the time when Dubois exploded his last shell. With Sigel were the Union guides, C. Baker Owen, L. A. D. Crenshaw, John Steele and Andy Adams, and with Lyon was Pleasant Hart, E. L. McElhany and others, but perhaps none of them fired a gun. The rumor goes that a few over-zealous Union men slipped out with the 1st Kansas and took a hand on their own hook, but if this be so, their names have not been learned.

Early on the morning of the battle, John E. Phelps (son of Col. John S., and afterwards a brevet brigadier general), armed with a Maynard rifle and a Colt's dragoon revolver, set out from his father's house, south of town, for the fight. Accompanying him was one of his father's slaves, a negro man named George, another negro, Amos, belonging to Maj. Dorn, of the Southern army, and Pleasant Hall and Robert Russell, two young men, citizens of the county. Phelps was the leader. Taking the Fayetteville road, the party encountered Lieut. Morton, of the 2d Kansas. [345]

The squad, now numbering six, hurried along, as the firing began, and pretty soon encountered a picket of two men. Leaving the others to attract their attention, Phelps contrived to make his way to the rear of these pickets, and coming upon, them suddenly, leveled his "Maynard" and soon had them prisoners. The party then rode on and soon encountered another picket. Employing the same tactics as those used at the former post, Phelps succeeded in capturing a mounted arsenal in the person of a State Guard lieutenant of McBride's, division, named Kelly, who had three or four revolvers, a double- barreled shot gun, and a heavy dragoon saber.

Buckling on the saber himself, Phelps rode up near the battlefield and encountering a party of Confederates induced a negro, belonging to an officer of the Louisiana regiment, to ride out to him, when forcing the negro to follow, and keep in him between the enemy and himself, Phelps retired in good order! Nearer still to the battlefield, and at Ray's house, a good-sized squad, was encountered in the house and taken in. Here the correspondent of the New York Tribune, one Barnes, who had been with Lyon, came up. To his paper, Barnes, wrote:

"I now determined to cross the creek, and see if I could find Col. Sigel, as a report reached us that he was entirely cut to pieces. * * * I had not proceeded far on the eastern side of the creek, when I met the son of Hon. John S. Phelps, who had left town upon hearing the cannonading, with but a few troops, and, not discerning the exact positions of the two armies, had busied himself taking prisoners on the Fayetteville road and west of it. When I met him he had captured near a dozen, including a negro belonging to an officer in a Louisiana regiment. Placing them upon the trail for our guards and in charge of a Kansas officer, Phelps and myself proceeded, but found it unsafe to attempt to cross the Fayetteville road, and, seeing the army retreating, we joined them and returned to the city."


Back in Springfield there was a large force of Home Guards, numbering about 1,200, under Col. Marcus Boyd, from Green and adjoining counties, all under arms, and all ready and willing to fight. But Gen. Lyon held their fighting qualities in such poor esteem—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. [346]

But in all probability—no reason appearing to contrary—if these 1,200 men had been taken out to Wilson's Creek they would have fought well—as well as the volunteers, who fought as effectively as the regulars—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 enemy in his front every man who could be induced to fire a musket; but his anxiety to not leave his rear and base wholly unprotected from a cavalry dash or sudden movement of some sort, led to his leaving this large force in Springfield, 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 out 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 Totten's battery, back came the captain ambling along, on a little brood mare, which he was 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! The cannings is a-firing!" As the roar of every gun had been plainly audible to everybody, this was not a very new piece of information, but Boyd replied, "All right, captain; go back to your post."

Flourishing his lath as before, the captain rode away, and promptly in half an hour—still in his hand the lath, which was doing double service, as a sword and a riding-whip—he returned:—

"Colonel Boyd, Sir!" The cannings is still a-firing! And so every half hour, until the "cannings" had ceased to thunder, when he returned, and making the same military salute, the faithful lath still in his grasp, he announced:

Colonel Boyd, Sir! The cannings is ceased a-firing!" [347]


Upon reaching Springfield the Federal army rested a brief time and got itself ready for flight. A conference of the principal officers was held, and the command of all the forces given to Col. Sigel, of whom it is reported Maj. Sturgis said he was not altogether successful in attack, but was "h—l on retreat." The citizens were notified, and hundreds of them began packing up and preparing to follow the army. These were Union people who dreaded the approach 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 being guarded by a Home Guard company. Merchandise of all kinds was loaded into wagons and certain of the officers "pressed" teams for the occasion to load commissary and quartermasters stores into. Col. Boyd says that one Federal colonel, high in Sigel's confidence, had no wagons or other accouterments for his regiment. He pressed a pair of mules and a wagon, and instead of loading it with flour and bacon, piled it with seven barrels of whisky and one box of "hard tack" for his fragmentary regiment of 500 men on a retreat of 150 miles! But lo! This far-seeing officer on that long march fed not only his own men but hundreds of refugees, with the proceeds of trades and sundry traffickings for his inspirating cargo, and—this history does not state this upon its own responsibility, but upon that of Col. Boyd—had, when the command reached Rolla, two barrels of whisky left, besides seventeen wagons loaded with hard tack, sugar-cured hams, sugar, coffee, and molasses!!

Sigel's ordinance officer destroyed a considerable quantity of power because there were no means of transporting it. The 1st Iowa also burned a portion of its baggage for the same reason. The town was full of frightened men, women, and children, wagons, teams, horses, mules, milch cows, soldiers, infantry, 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 a perfect jam of cannon carriages, army wagons, farm wagons, buggies, etc. [348]


By 10 o'clock in the 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. Ambulances, carriages, butchers' wagons, express wagons, every sort of vehicle with wheels and springs, plied between the battlefield and the town all day and until after dark, bringing off the wounded.

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, at least $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 statement is upon the authority of Dr. Franklin himself. The doctor was given general charge of the Federal wounded.


At last all was ready and the army set out for Rolla, with a train of wagons three miles long and a huge column of refugees, men, women, 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 county. No attempt was made on the part of the Southern 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 been. Sigel was not disturbed until near the crossing of the Gasconade.

Before crossing this river Col. Sigel received information that the ford could not be passed well, and that a strong force of the enemy was moving from West Plains toward Waynesville, to cut off the retreat. He was also aware that it would take considerable time to cross the Robidoux and the two Pineys on the old road. To avoid these difficulties, and to give the army an opportunity to rest, Sigel directed the troops from Lebanon to the northern road, passing Right Point, in the southeastern part of Camden county, and Humboldt, Pulaski county, and terminating opposite the mouth of Little Piney, where in case the ford could not be passed, the train could be sent by Vienna and Linn to the mouth of the Gasconade, while 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 mouth 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 Major Sturgis, who marched it into Rolla August 19th, where it went into temporary camp, the first encampment being named "Camp Cary Gratz," in honor of the captain of the 1st Missouri killed at Wilson's Creek. In a few days the Missouri and Kansas troops and the 1st Iowa, whose term of service had long before expired, were sent to St. Louis to be mustered out.

The Union wounded in Springfield, as has been stated, had been left in charge of Dr. E. C. Franklin, of the 5th Missouri, Salomon's regiment, and assisting him were the surgeons and assistant surgeons of other regiments and battalions—Melcher, Davis, Haussler, and Ludwig, and also one or two of the local physicians and surgeons. There was plenty of work for all of them. Dr. Franklin labored almost incessantly for some days, and performed a prodigious amount of valuable service for the wounded soldiers under his charge, as is testified to by men whose lives he saved. Dr. Franklin, now (1883) professor of surgery in the Homoepathic College of the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, writes: "Upon the entrance of the Confederates, Brig. Gen. Rains confiscated the most of the medical supplies, leaving me scarcely enough to last our sick and wounded for one week, after which time we were often in great straits."4 [350]

1 The battle of Wilson's Creek was at the time and is yet frequently called the battle of Springfield. The battle of Wilson's Creek (or Oak Hills) was fought Aug. 10, 1861; the battle of Springfield, January 8, 1863.
2 At the breaking out of the civil war, the color of the infantry uniform of the U. S. army was gray. Upon its adoption by the Confederates this color was changed, and blue substituted.
3 Gen. A. E. Steen's division seems to have been attached to McCulloch's army. It was insignificant in numbers.
4 An interesting medical and surgical history of the Union wounded at the battle of Wilson's Creek was kindly furnished for publication in this history by Dr. Franklin, but unfortunately arrived too late for insertion in full.

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