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eager lor a fight. The rebels were largely ouperior in cavalry, while Sigel was much better supplied than they in artillery. The battle began about halfpast ten in the'morning. The enemy's large body of cavalry gave them great advantage, and seriously endangered Sigel's position more than once; but nothing could withstand the force of our artillery and the charges of the infantry. The rebels were driven at various times and occasions, but rallied again; and Sigel retreated to Dry Fork Creek, and thereby saved his baggage train. "With his men in complete order, but greatly wearied with heat and fatigue, Sigel first took position on the heights beyond Carthage; thence, after another severe struggle with the rebel cavalry, he continued his march to Sarcoxie, fifteen miles eastward. Our loss was thirteen killed, thirty-one wounded; the rebel loss was estimated at fifty killed, 150 wounded.
As during the night and next day, Gen. Price brought several thousand Arkansas and Texas troops, under McCulloch and Pierce, to join
Jackson, it was well that Sigel retired when he did. Indeed, it became necessary for him to leave Sarcoxie and proceed to Springfield, where, on the 13th of July, he took his place under Gen. Lyon's command. This devoted soldier and patriot, as above noted, with a force of less than 3,000 men, but men who could and would fight, set out in pursuit of the enemy, determining, as every way the wisest, to strike the blow himself rather than wait to be attacked. He crossed the Grand River on the 7th of July, and
was joined by 3,000 troops from Kansas, under Major Sturgis. HI news in regard to Sigel had reached him; but upon reaching Springfield he was cheered to find Sigel and his men comparatively safe.
The storm of war was lowering heavily over Missouri, and Gen. Lyon was but inadequately furnished with men and means to meet the rebels. His numbers, small enough at best, were daily growing less by the expiration of the time of enlistment of the volunteers. The rebel preparations were among the most formidable of their many attempts in this quarter during the war. Their army, collected from various quarters, at Cassville, to the south-west of Springfield, near the Arkansas line of Missouri, included a large body of Missouri, Arkansas and Texas troops, under command of some of the most talented officers in the south-west. Advancing under the command of Gen. McCulloch, they encamped, on the 6th of August, at Wilson's Creek, a position ten miles southwest of Springfield. The object was the investment and capture of the Union forces of Gen. Lyon at that town.
Lyon, however, thinking it best to meet the detached bodies of the enemy before they were concentrated in their new position, set out, on the 1st of . August, from Springfield, advancing about twenty miles south - westerly, and, on the afternoon of the 2d, after a forced march under a burning sun, encountered a part of the rebel forces, under Gen. Rains, at Dug Springs. The engagement, though not long, was
sharp and decisive. It was principally fought by our cavalry, which, with unequalled spirit, succeeded in driving back a force ten times theirs in number.*
A forward movement was made to Curran, but it was soon thought best to retire to Springfield. This was done, and Gen. Lyon proposed to attack the enemy on the night of the 7th of August. Circumstances, however, prevented; he was very greatly •n need of reinforcements and supplies; and he pleaded earnestly to have men sent to him, or he must run the risk of being overpowered. A council of war was held to determine whether, with a force of about 5,000, he should undertake to meet the rebels, numbering over 20,000; the troops, too, of Gen. Lyon were, many of them, freshlyraised, inexperienced recruits, who had been hastily summoned to take the place of the three months' volunteers who had gone home.
Under ordinary circumstances it would probably have been more judicious to retreat; but in the present case, Gen. Lyon knew too well the prodigious effect such a course would have for I harm to the Union cause. It was resolved, therefore, to make a stand, at any cost, and to meet the enemy at the earliest practicable moment. Friday, the 9th of August, was fixed upon for an advance; the rebels had the same purpose in view, and meant to march on Springfield that night, in four sepa
* The day was au exceedingly trying one; the heat »nd dust were oppressive in the extreme; no water was to be had at any price ; and stricken down by the sun and exhausted, the men were very grateful when evening drew on ard they could gain some relief.
rate columns, so as to surround and attack it at daybreak; but they did not do so. Gen. Lyon, on his part, j made all his dispositions on Friday j afternoon, for an attack on the enemy on Saturday morning at daylight; Lyon attacking on the left, and Sigel on the right. During the night they approached the rebel encampment at | Wilson's Creek, ten miles south of Springfield, and the battle was begun at dawn of day. It ',
was fought gallantly and nobly by our j men; but the great disproportion of numbers very soon became evident, and 1 seemed to show that, in dividing his troops into two columns, he committed I an error. Sigel at first drove the rebels j before him, and secured a good position for his battery. But with only a j scant force, Sigel was assailed by two | batteries and a column of infantry. His men were thrown into confusion; the cannoneers were driven from their pieces, the horses killed, and five guns I captured; and most of the force under j Sigel fled, leaving the brunt of the battle to fall upon Lyon's column.
This part of our little army was speedily at work. Totten's and Dubois's batteries were very effective, and our infantry won great honor by their steady, unflinching maintenance of their ground against immense odds. The rebels were repeatedly driven back in confusion, but our men were too few to follow up their advantage. Lyon, brave almost to recklessness, was, as is supposed, fighting this battle against his real convictions; his horse was killed, and he received a wound in the leg and one in the head. He walked slowly a few paces to the real", and said despondingly, "I fear the day ia lost." A horse was immediately offered him, which, in a few minutes, he mounted, and swinging his hat in the air, called to the troops nearest him to follow. The 2d Kansas gallantly rallied around him, headed by the brave CoL Mitchell. In a few moments the colonel fell, severely wounded; about the same time a fatal ball was lodged in Gen. Lyon's breast, and he was carried from the field a corpse.*
Major Sturgis now took command, and after a three hours' fight, the rebels were forced from their camp and the field; while our men, almost without ammunition, and considerably reduced, slowly took up their march for Springfield, which they reached at five o'clock, P.m. The enemy did not venture on any pursuit; but, as it was evident that Springfield could not be held against the force the rebels possessed, Col. Sigel conducted the retreat to Rolla with the remnant of his army, his baggage train, and $250,000 in specie. So far as appears, he was not at all molested, and reached Rolla, Aug. 19th. Our loss in the battle at Wilson's Creek was, in all, 1,236. The rebel-^oss was reported as 1,347.
The rebel authorities endeavored to magnify this battle into a victory, which it certainly was not. In fact, it checked rebel operations under Price and McCulloch, and prevented their
* Pollard, in speaking of Gen. Lyon, indulges in | great bitterness, calling him a "dangerous man," I "without a trace of chivalrlc feeling or personal sensibility," etc.. at the same time acknowledging his ability and decision of character.—" First Tear of the War," p. 140
doing anything for more than a month. In reality, it was a triumph to the Union cause, though a triumph dearly bought at the sacrifice of Lyon's life.*
Early in July, Gen. J. C. Fremont was ordered to take charge of the western department, embracing the state of Illinois and the states and territories west of the Mississippi and east of the Rocky Mountains, including New Mexico. In many respects, no more popular appointment could have been made for the West, where Fremont's name carried great weight with it, and would be certain to enlist much enthusiasm and earnest support. Gen. Fremont hastened, at an early day, to the field of his labors, and as very much was left to his discretion and judgment, he entered with unusual zeal and energy upon his work; so great, indeed, that it was not long before he came into collision with the authorities at head quarters. One great object which he was directed to have in view was, to accomplish the descent of the Mississippi; for which purpose he was to raise and organize an army as soon as possible.
The prospect of affairs was gloomy enough in Missouri. The state was largely hostile; the disaster at Bull Run depressed the Union men while it gave the secessionists cause for exultation; faction prevailed; the recruits were badly supplied and badly paid; and the rebels had some 50,000 men in
• Gen. Lyon's loss was universally deplored. His body was recovered from the field and entombed at Springfield. Subsequently his remains were removed to his native village, Ashford, Conn. Every honor was bestowed upon his name and memory, and Congress, at its session, in December, passed joint resolutions expressive of their sense of his eminent and pa triotic services.