War of the Rebellion: Serial 003 Page 0069 Chapter X. BATTLE OF WILSON'S CREEK, MO.

Search Civil War Official Records

Thus closed, at about 11.30 o'clock, an almost uninterrupted conflict of six hours. The order to retreat was given soon after the enemy gave way from our front and center, Lieutenant Du Bois' battery having been previously sent to occupy, with its supports, the 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 demonstrations upon our right flank. This having been repulsed, and no enemy bring in sight, the whole column moved slowly to the high open prairie about 2 miles from the battle ground. Meanwhile our ambulances passed to and for, carrying off our wounded. After making a short halt on the prairie, we continued our march to Springfield.

It should be remembered that just after the order to retire was given, and while it was 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 non-commissioned officers arrived, and reported that the colonel's brigade had been totally routed and all his artillery captured, Colonel Sigel himself being either killed or made prisoner. Most of our men had fired away all their ammunition and all that could be obtained from the boxes of the killed and wounded. Nothing, therefore, was left to do but to return to Springfield, where 250 Home Guards, with two pieces of artillery, had been left to take care of the train. On reaching the Little York road we met Lieutenant Farrand, with his company of dragoons and a considerable portion of Colonel Sigel's command, with one piece of artillery. At 5 o'clock p. m. we reached Springfield.

Thus closed a day long to be remembered in the annals of history; a day which has brought gloom and sorrow to many hearts throughout the land; but fathers and mothers, widows and orphans, may receive some consolation from the fact that their relatives and friends presented on that day a wall of adamant to the enemies of their country, and when they fell it was in defence of a great cause, and with their breasts to the enemy. That 3,700 men, after a fatiguing night march, attacked the enemy, numbering 23,000, on their pow ground, and after a bloody conflict and to water, is the best eulogium I can pass on their conduct that day; and, indeed, it would be impossible to refer to individual acts of courage without doing injustice to many gallant men; yet I am constrained to call the attention of the general commanding to the particularly important services rendered by several officers which came under my own observation.

Wherever the battle most fiercely raged there was General Lyon to be found, and there, too, was Major Schofield, his principal staff officer. The coolness and equanimity with which he moved from point to point carrying orders was a theme of universal admiration. I cannot speak too highly of the invaluable services of Major Schofield and the confidence his example inspired.

Captain Granger, acting assistant adjutant-general on my staff, rendered such excellent aid in various ways, that a full mention of those services would render this report too voluminous for an official statement. Suffice it to say that he appeared to be almost ubiquitous - now sighting a gun of Du Bois' battery, and before the smoke had cleared away sighting one of Totten's; at one moment reconnoitering the enemy, and the next either bringing up re-enforcements or rallying some broken line. To whatever part of the field I might direct my attention, there would I find Captain Granger, hard at work at some important service;