New York Times Articles on the Battle of Wilson Creek




Head-Quarters Sixth Division, M.S.G,

Brig.-Gen. M. Parsons, Commanding.

Phelps' Farm, Springfield, Aug. 22, 1861

Remembering several acts of kindness of yours, and hoping that you will place confidence in a report of mine, I will give you a short account in honor of the affair at Wilson's Creek, as far as I saw it in person.

Gen. Lyon attacked us before breakfast. I was awakened by Totten's battery opening within 1,200 yards of my tent. We were surprised completely. Siegel also attacked us in our rear, opposite Lyon's point of attack. The battle-ground presents large hills with deep ravines, thickly covered with small trees and underbrush. We had a "bushwhack" fight- regiment against regiment, advancing and retreating, for about three hours. Siegel's batter was taken (in our rear) by the gallant Louisiana Regiment at the point of the bayonet.

Lyon formed for his main attack- regulars, Kansas regiments, and a few dragoons- within two hundred yards of our battery; we thought they might be our own men. Gen. Price, after waiting some fifteen minutes, rode up alone with-in seventy-five yards, and found out who they were. When they attacked, our battery opened with canister, our infantry advanced, and for ten minutes there was one unceasing roar of musketry and thundering of artillery, a portion of Totten's battery replying to my guns. In the end of this last and terrible fire the enemy were driven from the field, leaving Gen. Lyon dead- not even taking his papers from the body. Before this Siegel was in full retreat; was charged by some Arkansas men, and with the remnant of Lyon's command, left for Springfield. Our total loss, as near as can be ascertained, is 517 killed and 720 wounded. Five of Siegel's guns were taken on the field. I had three of them in my charge that night.

Capt. Coleman, our old, steadfast friend, has met the death we, of old, predicted, and is buried on the battle-field; Col. Kelly is badly wounded in the arm; Wm. May also in the thigh; Col. Kelly will be at the next fight, however. May will not be well till Winter. Sam. Gilfillan has nearly recovered from his Carthage wound; is now on duty. Capt. Guibor is in the tent, slightly unwell; he was cut off early in the day of the fight, but escaped by riding through Siegel's lines; the dragoons fired on him and gave chase, but the captain's horse was too fast. This left me in command. I went into action with the battery three times, and was so fortunate as to be specially mentioned in the general orders. * * *

We had a fine battery, nearly equal to our old one, and hope to do continued good service against our enemies.

We took about 400 prisoners, who have been released on parole. The National wounded are taken as good care of as our own, though that is not the best, medicine being scarce. Lyon's corpse is now within 100 yards of my tent; it was disintered this afternoon, and to-morrow starts for St. Louis.

Billy Corkery and Bob Finney are our Second and Third Lieutenants. Johnny Corkery is severely wounded, but will recover. I was wounded at Carthage, by ball, but am now well as ever. I have the honor to be, with great respect, yours truly,


First Lieutenant Capt. G.'s Batter, M.S.G.

New York Times, Published September 2, 1861

Copyright © The New York Times




The War in Missouri.

Further Particulars of the Battle of Wilson's Creek

springfield, Mo., Thursday, Aug. 15

The correspondent of the St. Louis Democrat furnishes a detailed account of the battle of Wilson's Creek. but all the main facts concerning the engagement have already been telegraphed. The enemy's camp extended along Wilson's Creek about three miles, inclosed by high ground on each side, upon which the greater part of the engagement was fought. It does not appear from this account that the rebels were driven back any considerable distance, but their charges were all repulsed, and they burned a large amount of camp equipage and baggage to prevent its capture by our troops. The enemy had twenty-one pieces of artillery and a very large body of cavalry.

Gen. Siegel attacked the rebels form the southeast as soon as he heard firing from Gen. Lyon's command, and drove them back half a mile, taking possession of their camp, which extended westward to the Fayetteville road. Here a terrible fire was poured into his ranks by a regiment which he had permitted advance within a few paces of him, supposing it to be the Iowa First. His men scattered considerably, and Col. Solomon's Regiment could not be rallied, consequently Col. Siegel, lost five of his guns, the other being brought away by Capt. Flagg, who compelled his prisoners to drag it off the field. Our troops captured about four hundred horses. Our loss is about 200 killed and from 600 to 700 wounded, while the loss of the enemy cannot possibly be less than double our own, their forces having moved in large bodies, and our artillery playing on them with terrible effect

Lieut.-Col. Brand, who commanded a rebel force at Booneville, and has since been acting as aid to Gen. Price, was taken prisoner.

Gen. Lyon's body has been embalmed for conveyance to his friends in Connecticut.

The following are additional names of National officers killed and wounded:

Killed.- Capt. Maron, of the First Iowa Regiment; Capt. Brown, of the First Ohio Regiment; Major Shaffer is reported killed, but this lacks confirmation.

Wounded.- Capt. Gottschalk, of the first Ohio Regiment; Capt. Swift, of the First Kansas Infantry; Capt. Gilbert of the First Infantry; Capt. Holton, of the First Kansas Regiment; Lieut. Brown, of the First Missouri Regiment; Capt. Coles, of the First Missouri Regiment.


Correspondence of the St. Louis Democrat

Springfield, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 1861.

On Thursday last we received marching orders, to be ready to march by 2 o'clock. But the move was not made till 5 P.M. Then we started to meet the rebels, who were said to be concentrating their forces on the Cassivlle Road, with a view to making an attack on this place. The day was intensely hot, and the dust lay full six inches deep on the dry road. and as our troops and wagons passed along, it rose in great clouds almost stifling. The road is but a continuation of the same style as we met between this and Rolla, flinty and hilly. We marched very slowly, and soon the night drew on and covered us with her mantle, a by no means unpleasant exchange for the scorching rays of the August sun. As the vast body of men, horses and wagons moved on, breaking upon the stillness of the quiet woods, it was a solemn, stiffing sensation that came over me. There was broad heavens, the light-twinkling stars, the sombre hills covered with stunted undergrowth, and the steady tramp of armed men filled with a mighty purpose, and ready to die in a sacred cause. We camped at 9 o'clock, without pitching tents - Gen. Lyon and all of us lying upon the hill side with the heavens for a canopy. Early on the following morning we resumed our march, our advanced and flanking parties keenly on the alert, for it was reported that we approached the enemy.

About 10 o'clock we were in sight of a small picket-guard, as it turned out afterwards, in a small house, by the roadside. One piece of artillery was brought to the front, and Capt. Totten sent his complement to the chaps in the shape of a shell, which went whizzing through the air. You may judge there was no time lost by the rebels in leaving a wide space between them and us. Four were killed. So we pushed on and now we descend a hill and enter a ravine, with rolling hills on either side. As we make the turn of a sudden bend in the road tow miles further on, the advanced pickets report a cloud of dust in advanced, and then a party of horsemen is seen on the brow of the hill just in the road. A halt was ordered. Gen. Lyon and staff proceed to reconnoitre, and our enemy are evidently doing the same thing, for little parties are to be seen on the hills round about. Two companies of the regulars are throw forward as skirmishers, supported by Capt. Stanley's company of cavalry. The head of the column falls back behind the bend of the road just referred to, and is completely hidden from enemy's view. Capt. Totten prepares his orators for any emergency, and Gen Lyon proceeds to located the camp, for it is determined that we shall remain here for the night.

Meanwhile the enemy, having dismounted, have descended the hill, passed along a ravine, and, coming over the brow of another rolling ridge, encounter the two companies of infantry. The firing grows rapid and sharp, and the enemy, numbering some 500, threaten to outflank Capt. Steele's two companies. The cavalry are to the right, and seeing this movement, someone, excited by the shouts of the brave infantry cried "Charge!" and like a bolt of thunder the brave fellows dashed forward, Lieut. Kelly in the lead. Right into the trembling, cowering retches they ride, and death and frightful gashes follow every stroke of their heavy sabres. The rebels fired and ran. and some with desperation of despair, seeing they are overtaken, turn and try to use their bayonets; but their rout was total, advance and reserve flee for dear life, and leave the field strewn with wounded and dying. They rally and engage the skirmishers again. and a line is again formed, supported by about one thousand mounted men. Now is the time for Capt. Totten. His pieces are hidden from enemy's view, and they advance altogether unconscious of the reception awaiting them; the ball is rammed home. the air resounds with a roar, and as the smoke clears away the traitors still stand. for that ball went overhead. Try a shell, Captain. Home the shell is driven and in a moment the loud hills quake with its whiz as it speeds on its deadly errand. it fell just in their midst and they fell like grass before the mower. To their heels they take, and in rapid succession Capt. Totten and Lieut. Sokalski send several balls after them. They carry away their killed and wounded, but return no more.

Some horses were taken and several pieces of arms. Capt. stanley lost four men of his cavalry and four were wounded. One man of Capt. Steele's was shot in the hand. So the day ended. The cavalry charge was one of the most daring and bold things that ever occurred, and it is only wonderful that half of them at least were not killed. It was a mistake, however, but showed what might be expected of them. One of the wounded rebels asked, "were they human beings or devils?"

We marched the next morning only some six miles and had a sigh of a few of the advance guard, but they made no stand. We took their camp ground and occupied it for the night. In the afternoon a rather remarkable incident took place. Our troops were all at rest, and a party of some forty horsemen rode down into the very midst as leisurely and carelessly as might be, supposing, as it turned out, that we were their own troops. As they passed Gen. Lyon, he observed they were not of our party, and called out to halt them; by this time they discovered their own mistake, and putting spurs to their horses dashed into the adjoining woods. A few shots were fired after them, with no effect, however. Here we despaired of a fight and returned to Springfield.

The New York Times

published: August 16, 1861

Copyright © The New York Times


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