Regiment, which had firmly maintained its position on the extreme right from the time it was first sent there, found its ammunition exhausted, and was ordered to retire, which it did slowly and in good order, bringing off its wounded. This left our right exposed, and the enemy renewed the attack at that point it had ceased along the line, but was met by Captain Steele's battalion, which had just driven the enemy from the right of the center, and after a sharp engagement drove him precipitately from the field.
Thus closed, at about 11.30 o'clock, an almost uninterrupted conflict of nearly six hours. The order to retire was given immediately after the enemy gave way from our front and center, and Lieutenant Du Bois' battery at once took position with its supports on a hill in our rear. Captain Totten's battery, as soon as his disabled horses could be replaced, retired slowly with the main body of the infantry, while Captain Steele was meeting the demonstration upon our right flank. This having been repulsed, and no enemy being in slight, the whole column moved slowly to the high open prairie about 2 miles from the battle ground. Our ambulances meanwhile passed to and for, carrying off our wounded, and after making a short halt upon the prairie we continued our march to Springfield.
It should be here remarked that just after the order to retire had been given, and while it was still undecided whether the retreat should be continued or whether we should occupy the more favorable position in our rear and await tidings of Colonel Sigel, one of his men reached us, and reported that his brigade had been totally routed and all his artillery captured, Colonel Sigel himself having been either killed or taken prisoners. Most of our men had fired away all their ammunition and all that could be obtained form the boxes of the killed and wounded. There was then nothing left us but to return to Springfield.
Upon reaching the Little York road we met Lieutenant Farrand with his company of cavalry and a considerable portion of Colonel Sigel's command, with one piece of artillery. We reached Springfield at 5 o'clock p. m., and had the satisfaction of learning that Colonels Sigel and Salomon had each arrived there some hours before in safety. I at once started for Colonel Sigel's quarters, and met him riding towards mine. He told me of his disaster, and said we must decide upon our course for the future. A council was called at my quarters, and was attend by nearly all the chief officers who were able.
Major Sturgis explained the circumstances under which he had assumed command upon the field; stated his convictions of the necessity for our retreating towards Rolla at once and before the enemy could organize for pursuit, and resigned his command to Colonel Sigel.
No difference of opinion seemed to exist as to the propriety and even necessity of the course proposed by Major Sturgis, and the necessary orders were at once issued, 2 o'clock a. m. being the hour designated for the march to commence, in order that the entire column, with its long train (370 wagons), might leave the town and obtain favorable ground for defense before dawn, when an attack would probably be made if one were contemplated.
Colonel Sigel arranged the order of march, his brigade and the Iowa regiment forming the advance guard, followed by the baggage train, then the main body of the army, and lastly Major Sturgis' brigade of regulars. I gave the necessary instructions for the movement of the various portions of the train and of the different commands; made provision for the transportation of such of the wounded as could be carried with us and for the care of such as must be left behind, detailing four