engaged with a superior force of the enemy, attempting to turn our right. The general having been informed of this movement, sent the Second Kansas to the support of the First Missouri. It came up in time to prevent the Missourians from being destroyed by the overwhelming force against which they were unflinchingly holding their position.
The battalion of regular infantry, under Captain Steele, which had been detailed to the support of Lieutenant Du Bois' battery, was during this time brought forward to the support of Captain Totten's battery. Scarcely had these dispositions been made, when the enemy again appeared in very large force along our entire front and moving towards each flank. The engagement at once became general, and almost inconceivable fierce, along the entire line; the enemy appearing in front often in three or four ranks, lying down, kneeling, and standing, the lines often approaching to within 30 or 40 yards of each other, as the enemy would charge upon Captain Totten's battery and be driven back. Early in the engagement the First Iowa came to the support of the First Kansas and First Missouri, both of which had stood like veteran troops, exposed to a galling fire of the enemy.
Every available battalion was now brought into action, and the battle raged with unabated fury for more than an hour; the scales seeming all the time nearly equally balanced, out troops sometimes gaining a little ground, and again giving way a few yards to rally again. Early in this engagement, while General Lyon was leading his horse along the line on the of Captain Totten's battery and endeavoring to rally our troops, which were at this time in considerable disorder, his force was killed, and he received a wound in the leg and one in the head. He walked slowly a few paces to the rear and said, "I fear the day is lost." I then dismounted one of my orderlies, and tendered the horse to the general, who at first declined, saying it was not necessary. The horse, however, was left with him, and I moved off to rally a portion of the Iowa regiment, which was beginning to break in considerable numbers.
In the mean time the general mounted, and swinging his hat in the air, called to the troops nearest him to follow. The Second Kansas, or at least a portion of it, gallantry rallied around him, headed by the brave Colonel Mitchell. In a few moments the colonel fell, severely wounded; about the same time a fatal ball was lodged in the general's breast, and he was carried from the field a corpse. Thus gloriously fell as brave a soldier as ever drew a sword, a man whose honesty of purpose was proverbial, a noble patriot, and one who held his life as nothing when his country demanded it of him.
Of this dire calamity I was not informed until perhaps half an hour after its occurrence. In the mean time our disordered line on the left was again rallied and pressed the enemy with great vigor and coolness, particularly the First Iowa Regiment, which fought like veterans. This hot encountered lasted perhaps half an hour.
Major Schofield now informed me of the death of General Lyon, and reported for orders. The responsibility which rested upon me was duly felt and appreciated. Our brave little army was scattered and broken; over 20,000 men were still in our front, and our men had no water since 5 o'clock the evening before, and could hope for none short of Springfield, 12 miles distant. If we should go forward, our own success would prove our certain defeat in the end; if we retreated, disaster stared us in the face. Our ammunition was well-night exhausted, and should the enemy make this discovered through a slackening of our fire, total annihilation was all we could expect. The great