||I have transcribed
the memoirs of Brig. Gen. Nicholas Bartlett Pearce in Word document form.
I think you will find it very interesting. The film is in the Special Collections
Department of the University of Arkansas if you want to verify it. He describes
the period just before Arkansas's secession from the Union, training the
troops, preparing for the battle, the battle itself and the casualties. Attached
is a copy. He was my great grandfather. Barbara Leland firstname.lastname@example.org
Memoirs of N. B.
Writing entirely from
memory now in 1892 of occurrences of 1861, I may not remember clearly. Many
things will have been forgotten and matters that others might remember with
clearness and be critical of the journalist may not have impressed me then
so positively and time may have obliterated every trace. Only such facts
as are of my knowledge or based on what I now consider reliable sources will
be my objective to mention in my narrative of that shining time when men's
passions were running about the land and only passion ruled.
The question of session was not a popular one in Arkansas where I was at
the time. The people loved the union. They read Washington's farewell address
and prayed that his utterances might be heeded - and that civil war might
be averted. So the people of Arkansas, by a large majority, refused to secede.
And but for the unfortunate call of Mr. Lincoln for 70,000 men, such action
would not have been taken back then. We had hopes that the border State
Convention lead by Mr. Cuthender of Kentucky would command the attention
of the fanatics north and south and that their efforts would prevent the
fanatical war that was so imminent, but alas, that call for 70,00 men - of
which the south was required to furnish their quota, came and the result
The day on which it was issued at Bentonville (my county town), the Union
party was having a grand speaking at the Court House. The Honorable Bob Johnson
U. S. Senator was there to deliver a Secession Speech to his old Democratic
constituents. The feeling was so violent against secession that he was hissed
and hooted down. I took the stand and appealed to the assembly to hear what
the Honorable Senator had to say with courtesy, give him the respect and
consideration due his position, and when done we had speakers to reply. He
was heard patiently though not appreciatively, and when done, another gallant
union orator, the honorable Hugh F. Thomason made a most excellent and acceptable
response judging from the uproarious applause with which he was continuously
feted during his address. We were all in a gracious and good natured mind,
The staff drove into town and the driver threw out some handbills containing
the printed proclamation, calling for the 70,000 men. The effect was wonderful.
All was cleared up in a moment. What! Call on the southern people to shoot
down their neighbors. Help those from whom we had for years only incurred
injury and money. No! Never!
That grand and glorious old union man Judge David Walker, at the solicitations
of all the leading union men of the state, recommended the Convention to
meet in Little Rock on the 6th of May.
Our ordinance of secession was passed on that day.
Showing the universality of the change produced by that call for 70,00 men
by Mr. Lincoln, only one vote is recorded against that ordinance. Honest
old Gov. Murphy. I can see him now as he rises in his place and hear him
say "I told my constituents that I would suffer my right arm severed before
I would ever sign an ordinance of secession and I will not!. But I am a southern
man and will go as far as the most determined secessionist in the south,
and he did remain in the convention until it's adjournment. He voted for
the resolution creating an army for the state in which myself, with others,
were given commands. He introduced the ordinance which was passed requiring
me to use the men, means and munitions of war to defend Arkansas against
the approach of any enemy daring to violate her sacred soil.
Acting under that ordinance (Because the convention was the source of all
policies within the state) I proceeded to organize, equip, drill and lead
to battle the brave and gallant 1st. Division of the Army of Arkansas. History
has made Governor Murphy notorious as the man who had the nerve to vote against
secession and consequently as a patriot. While we, now obeyed the orders
promulgated by the convention at his insistence, and were classed by certain
writers as traitorous. No! I am not - I hurl back those foul spirited with
contempt. We of the south were not traitors!
The Convention, having passed the Ordinance of Secession, the Rubicon was
crossed and having burned our ships we must prepare to meet the consequences.
Troops were called for, and the call was responded to with promptness and
alacrity clearly convincing the most skeptical of the earnestness and enthusiasm
that passioned the whole people. Companies were rapidly formed, recruits
organized, command of order instructions established. Only war was thought
of or talked of. This was the enthusiasm alive among the men.
Our lovely women were as earnest and patriotic as any of the stronger sex,
and by their devotion and example, stimulating to execution their dear ones,
Fathers, husbands, sons and brothers. And when they had sent them off to
the field, they, by their efforts, were they clothed and fed and nursed in
sickness and encouraged to efforts of greater daring in defense of the dear
lands we all love so well. Can such conduct be called by any other name than
patriotism? Our whole south was full of patriots.
A camp of instruction and organization was established in the north west
corner of the state, Camp Walker. There were organized the troops as they
The 3rd. Arkansas Regiment of Infantry
Col. Jon: R. Grutiat - Land Col. D. Pronman and Major Ward
The 4th Arkansas Infantry
Col David Walker - Lieut.. Col. R. Grunter - and Major Sam W. Perl
5th Arkansas Infantry
Col. L. P. Dockery, Lieut.. Col. --Berry. Major Featherstone
The Little Rock Battery of Artillery
Capt. W. E. Woodruff
The Fort Smith Battery of Artillery
Capt. James Reed
Which constitutes the 1st. Division of the Army of Arkansas and was under
the command of Brig. Gen. N. B. Pearce.
The famous Indian fighter from Texas, the brave and gallant Gen. McCulloch
had been commissioned a Brig. Gen. by the president of the Confederate States
and ordered to Arkansas to raise and organize his army, also established
his headquarters at Camp Walker and soon had the following regiments comprising
1st Regiment Arkansas Minted rifles
Col. T. J. Churchill, Lieut.. Col. Mattlock and Major Harper
The Texas Cavalry Regiment Command
Col. E. Greer. Lieut.. Larse, Major Colutton
The 2nd. Arkansas Calvary Regiment,
Commanded by Col. James McIntosh (who was also the efficient chief of staff
to Gen. McCulloch) Lieut.. Col. Snother and Major ---- and
The Arkansas Batallion of Col. Dandridge McNeal With
The 3rd Louisiana Regiment of Infantry
Commanded by Col. Louis Hubert. Lieut.. Col. Hyant and Major Lindstrom.
Affairs in Missouri after the surrender of Camp Jackson had assumed a warlike
nature. Major Gen. Sterling Price had been made commander of the Missouri
State Guards by Gov. Claiborn Jackson and the following named officers had
been assigned to certain military districts of the state with the rank of
Brigadier General: James S. Rains, Wm. Parsons, James McBride, John B. Clark
and W. Y. Slaik. and authorized to raise troop in their respective districts
for the State Guards.
After the affair at Bentonville the State Guards under Col. Marmaduke accompanied
by Gen. Jackson retreated towards the S. W. part of the state to join Gen.
Price and Gen. Rains. Gen. Siegel commander of a body of Federal troops attempted
to intercept their march and near Carthage a short fight took place. Siegel
soon retreating. In fact his whole fight was a retreat. He successfully effected
his escape, after considerable leads and moved towards Springfield. This
was the first engagement of the war in the Southwest and the intent was to
inflame other minds of the people and determine them to join the army. War
was inevitable and many who had heretofore remained out of the service could
not stand to see their neighbors shot down by Siegels Dutch and the result
was a very great increase in the army under Gen. Price.
Gen. McCulloch and Pearce with a portion of their respective commands had,
at the request of Gen. Price advanced into Missouri for the purpose of enabling
Gov. Jackson and Gen. Price to organize the State Guard and had arrived at
Neosho, Missouri the day of the Carthage fight. Col. McIntosh of McCulloch's
staff, with a squadron of cavalry captured a company of Siegels Dutch in
Neosho having completely surprised and captured them without firing a gun.
Here we captured several wagons belonging to Siegals command containing an
abundant supply of commissary stores, which were duly distributed and generously
circulated by the roaring lads of the Confederacy, having marched most of
the night and all the day before, they had emptied their haversacks of rations.
They enjoyed their first captures.
Siegel, having been driven back to Springfield, the commands of McCulloch
and Pearce returned to Camp Walker in Benton County, Arkansas and Gen. Price
established his headquarters on Cardehin Prairie in McDonald County, Missouri.
in the S. W. corner of the state. And there he decided to organize the Missouri
State Guard, a fine body of men now collected together, many young or middle
aged men, smarting under the insults heaped on them by the Federal element
in the state. They left home, hearth and comfort behind to join Old Pap Price,
to assist him to drive out the invaders of their state and despoilers of
their homes and unfortunately truth commands me to say murderers of their
of their beloved and innocent ones at home.
These men now demanded to be armed and led against the enemy. To the Missourians,
the question of arms was a serious one. He who possessed a double barrel
shot gun was a happy soul and a Colts revolver was a prize indeed. And many
could only pump a squirrel rifle, but he knew how to use it effectively.
Col. B. F. Walker had raised as fine a regiment of Cavalry as was in the
state, but could get no arms. At the request of Gen Price, Gen. Pearce loaned
Missouri 1000 Flintlock army muskets with bayonets. Well do I remember what
a remarkable appearance this spirited body of men made in the bright morning
light as they marched away from Camp Walker armed with this unusual Cavalry
weapon to join General Price. And more forcibly do I remember the telling
effect these same men and muskets made subsequently on the battlefield.
The country was full of wild rumpos of the advance of Federal troops from
St. Louis to Springfield and soon it was learned that Capt. Lyons, made notorious
by the conduct of affairs at St. Louis and the Camp Jackson surrender, now
came as commanding general of the Federal forces in S. W. Missouri. Gen.
Lyon was a graduate of West Point, had served several years in the U. S.
Army and had the rank of Captain at the beginning of the war. He was a bitter
black republican and hater of southern institutions. In fact, fanatical against
slavery, a man of marked military ability and of indomitable perseverance
and courage. In full sympathy with the most advanced abolitionists and no
doubt had he survived the defeat at Oak Hills (Wilson's Creek) would have
been promoted to the command of the Western Armies of the U.S.
About the 20th of July 1861 a consultation was held between Genls. McCulloch,
Price and Pearce which resulted in an agreement to march on Springfield and
give battle to Gen. Lyon. Gen. McCulloch did this reluctantly. Not that he
did not want to fight, for there he was in his glory. But President Davis
was scrupulous in his states rights ideas and Missouri had not passed an
ordinance of secession, had not been admitted to the Confederacy and until
she asked Southern aid Mr. Davis hesitated about invading her territory with
Southern troops. Gen. McCulloch kept the president informed of the situation
and was daily expecting orders that would justify his moving his army into
The Missourians were clamorus and fretful at the delay. They wanted to drive
the vandals from their homes which they had been forced to abandon. Believing
that the president would approve his course and becoming informed of the
true situation, Gen. McCulloch assented to Gen. Pearce's request to make
the advance into Missouri. Gen. Pearce did not hesitate to agree in the movement.
(It should be ventured that Gov. Jackson of Missouri commanded the State
Legislation at Neosho and that body had passed an act taking the state out
of the union and sending senators and representatives to the Confederate
Congress. The wording I am unable to give nor do I now remember the date.)
By an ordinance of the State Convention directing him to defend the state
against any enemy he decided that the best defense he could give the state
was to fight his enemies as far away from her soil as possible, so decided
to join Gen. McCulloch and Price in the movement against Gen. Lyon.
The three commands were to rendezvous at Cassville, Barry County, Missouri
which was effected on the 29th of July.
I wish here to state a fact, which I do of my own personal knowledge, in
regard to how Gen. McCulloch became the commander of the entire force. After
having gone into camp at Cassville on the afternoon of that day, I went to
Gen. Price's tent and told him the object of my visit was to come to some
definite understanding as to the rank and command of the combined forces,
that as we were near the enemy and likely to meet him at any moment I was
not satisfied to have so many separate and independent commands. That I would
willingly serve under either Gen.,. Price or Gen. McCulloch but wanted a
head of the army, but that I did not claim any high office for myself. Gen.
Price said that he was in accord with my views and rising said "Let's go
see Gen. McCulloch." Without further mentioning the subject we repaired to
Gen. McCulloch's headquarters nearby and Gen. Price, addressing Gen. McCulloch
in his dignified and courteous manner informed him of what I had said. And
volunteered, before Gen. McCulloch replied, professed in his own name and
mine to serve under Gen. McCulloch stating that although his commission was
higher than Gen. McCullochs being Maj. General, yet in compliance with the
Confederate States and desirous of how he best could serve Missouri, he willingly
waved his rank and place himself and command under the Confederate commander.
Gen. McCulloch knew nothing of any such idea until we entered his tent. He
agreed that it was important to success that the army have a head and thanking
Gen. Price and myself, accepted the offer in the same kind and earnest manner
in which it had been tendered him. This is the plain truth as to the manner
that Gen. McCulloch became the general in command of the troops.
Under the forgoing agreement Gen. McCulloch issued an order assuming command
of the entire army. In that order, the command was formed into 3 divisions.
The first division was commanded by Brig. Gen Rains of Missouri, the second
Division was commanded by Brig. Gen. N. B. Pearce of Arkansas and the third
Division was commanded by Maj. Gen. Price of Missouri. Each division was
made up of troops as named in the order issued by Gen. McCulloch without
reference to their former commands (not having those before me, I can't name
separate regiments constituting each division.) and the order named the march
began toward Springfield on the 30th of August.
As there were a great many refugees from their homes in Missouri, having
been forced to leave or be imprisoned, as was the case with many at Springfield
when the Federals took possession of that city, the order of Gen. McCulloch
required that the large body of unarmed men and camp followers remain one
days March in the rear of the army. Although ahead of my narrative I will
here state that as the command camped some 4 days on Wilson's Creek and so
Gen. Rains command were mostly from S. W. Missouri, many of these camp followers
had friends in his camp. They disobeyed the order to remain one days march
behind the army and had gone into camp along the creek near where Gen. Rains
division was encamped. When the Federal troops began the attack on our left
there was a stampede of this unarmed body of men that was fearful and at
one time threatened to be serious as this was the case with Col. McRay's
battalion which was literally run over by this misplaced rabble trying to
get out of the way of harm so that those who wished might have the opportunity
It was estimated that there were not less than 3 to 5 thousand men in this
unarmed body accompanying the army. When they were out of the way the numerical
strength of Gen. McCulloch's command was very noticeably diminished, want
of arms not fear caused this mad rush to the rear.
(It should be stated that during the time the army camped on Crain Creek
(2 or 3 days) there was called a council of war composed of Gen. McCulloch,
Gen. Price and other general officers of the command. The question of the
advance was the main point of interest. Gen. McCulloch feeling some reluctance
to proceed unless he could receive more explicit orders from Richmond to
do so. Gen. Price and the Missourians with which opinion Gen. Pearce concurred
all were anxious and impatient for the army to proceed to Springfield where
Gen. Lyons was supposed to be entrenched. On the 2nd day the council met
again, nothing having been resolved from the first meeting and great satisfaction
was manifested by all and by none more so than Gen. McCulloch when he announced
that he had received the wished for orders from Richmond that the army would
march for Springfield the nest morning, which was ordered and carried out.
This was after the Drag Spring engagement.)
At Crain Creek some 30 miles from Springfield, the army camped for 2 days,
Gen. Rains with a portion of his command on the 22nd of August had reached
our Spring when he encountered the advance guard of Lyon's army consisting
of some U. S. regulars and Lattrey Battery. The result was a sprightly skirmish
for a short time as Rains was always ready for a brush. The Federals lost
almost half a dozen killed and some thirty wounded. When they fell back toward
Springfield, Rains lost Lieut. Fullbright, from sun stroke and several more
slightly wounded and four Missourians. It was assertained that Gen. Lyons
whole army was advancing to meet us but this skirmish decided them to return
Gen. McCulloch moved on to Moody's Spring and encamped from the 6th to the
10th of August, Gen. McCulloch vainly endeavoring, by sending out scouts
and spies, to learn something of the condition and position of Lyons' army.
Gen. Price and the Missourians urging an immediate advance, but Gen. McCulloch
insisted that it was impossible to do so without having some definite information
as to Gen. Lyon's strength and position. This state of affairs lasted the
7th, 8th, and 9th until about 3 PM of the later date. A couple of ladies
in a buggy drove into Gen. Price's camp from Springfield, having obtained
a pass. This through the Federal lines and then by making a deteur by Pond
Springs succeeded in sounding the federal pickets and entering the confederates
camp. These ladies informed Gen. Price of the position of Gen. Lyon's troops,
about their number, also to the number of pairs of artillery. In fact gave
the information for which Gen. McCulloch had been so anxiously waiting at
Wilson's Creek. A council of war was immediately called by Gen. McCulloch,
consisting of the general officers of the command and Gen. Price, having
just made known the facts stated above. It was now decided to make an advance
on Gen. Lyon at 9 PM. The necessary orders for the march were issued by Gen.
McCulloch and immediately every preparation for the movement made.
The entire camp became suddenly a scene of commotion. The anxiously wished
for opportunity to meet the invaders of our beloved country was soon to be
had. The several commands of Divisions, Brigades and Regiments supervising
the preparations necessary to insure the prompt advance of the respective
commands at the appointed time. And as the most fatal objects to be surmounted
was the scarcity of ammunition, many a pair of bullet molds was brought into
requisition and groups of earnest and anxious men were to be seen all over
the camp molding bullets and making cartridges.
During the time the army encamped on Wilson's Creek Col. Weightman of Missouri
and myself made a careful reconnaissance of the grounds around the camp
especially to the east and south thereby obtaining a very general idea of
the topography of the immediate vicinity.
Gen. McCulloch had also made several excursions in the immediate neighborhood
and had on more than one occasion had the effect of his breech loading rifle
on the advance pickets of the enemy, much to their discomfiture and greatly
to his amusement.
The afternoon of the 9th of August as was stated was devoted to making
preparation for the advance on Lyon ordered for 9:00PM. Shortly before that
time, it had begun to rain and as much of the ammunition was carried in canvas
bags in haversacks there was great danger that the powder and cartridges
would be ruined by the rain and instead of the order to march at 9 o'clock,
orders were issued by Gen. McCulloch to cover our arms and remain until further
orders. The rain continued and there came no orders for the march and the
troops slept on their arms.
Then occurred one of those unfortunate occurrences that but for the heroic
bravery of the southern troops might have resulted disastrously. When the
order to march at 9 o'clock on the night of the 9th was issued, the pickets
which the Cavalry command had out, by Gen. Rains on the north and by Col.
Churchill on the south and east were withdrawn, by whom the order I am unable
to state and when the order delaying the movement until further orders was
given, these pickets were not sent out as it was expected the command would
move at any moment
Owing to the fact that most of the men of the command were in citizens clothing,
many companies having no uniforms, made it possible for spies to enter the
camp defying detection. They lived in the country and some were union in
sentiment and such were utilized by the federals to get information of the
movements and intentions of Gen. McCulloch and his command. And it is stated
that within 8 hours from the time the order was issued for the advance on
Gen. Lyon that he had been notified of it. It is stated that Gen. Lyon having
knowledge of the contemplated attack to be made on Springfield that night,
made his disposition to
surprise and attack the southern army on its night march to Springfield.
Before doing so it is said that a Council of Officers was held at which Gen.
Lyon and a majority of those present forced the evacuation of Springfield
and retreating to Rolla or Ft. Scott. Gen. H. W. Sweeney, a one armed soldier
of the Mexican War who had been commissioned a Lieut. in the regular U. S.
Army and then holding the rank of Brig. Gen. in the Union St. Louis House
Guards was as earnest in his opposition to the proposal to retreat that he
finally prevailed. The contemplated retreat was abandoned and Gen. Lyon issued
the orders for the movement to surprise and attack McCulloch on the march
The plan of the attack seems to have been for Gen. Lyon with 3 companies
of U. S. Regular Infantrymen under Captains Plummer, Gilbert and Huston,
all with Capt. Plummer, a portion of Missouri volunteers under Maj. Asterhaus,
B. Troop U. S. Cavalry under Lieut. Canfield, some Kansas mounted volunteers
and Capt. Lattons battery, 6 pieces of light artillery ----- with Maj. Sturois
U. S. Cavalry as chief in Command. Next came Blairs regiment of Missouri
volunteers and some regular army infantry under Capt. Fred Steel USA, some
irregular troops and Dubaiz Battery of 4 pieces. With Gen. Sweeney bringing
up the rear with 1st and 2nd. Kansas volunteers, ---- lottie under Col. Mitchell,
the 1st Iowa Infantry and some Missouri militia constituted the portion of
the main army which moved to the right within the north line of march and
along the Mount Pagorm Road and was under the command of Gen. Nathaniel Lyon
The Southern line of march was under command of Gen. Frank Siegel, under
him east the Missouri volunteers (Siegel's regiment) a portion of Col. Salermans
regiment, some Regular U. S. Cavalry under Capt. Curr U.S.A. and a battery
of 6 pieces of artillery. His advance was mainly west and south along the
"wire" road leading to Fayetteville, Arkansas and continuing on until almost
daylight on Saturday August 10th, 1861. He turned to the Confederate right.
There being no pickets to drive in. He planted his artillery on the hills
commanding the valley where the Confederate Cavalry was encamped and opened
fire on Col. Churchills Regiment in Camp. The first information we had of
the approach of the enemy was from Sergeant Hite of Capt. Carroll's Company.
General Pearce's bodyguard who had gone early to a spring for some water
and was challenged by the federal advance. He succeeded in escaping though
was fired at and came at once to Gen. Pearce's headquarters and gave the
information of the presence of the enemy. He was ordered by Gen. Pearce to
go to Gen. McCulloch's headquarters and inform him, but before he reached
there the command under Gen. Lyon had reached the left flank of the army
and had attacked Gen. Rains. Thus far the Federal troops had carved out their
place of battle, they had turned both flanks of the Confederates and had
surprised the army in their camps, but never was a body of troop better prepared
for a surprise. The troops were sleeping on their arms, each commander knew
the exact position of the several radius comprising his command and while
there was no "order of battle" nevertheless there was a perfect consent of
actions and promptly did the southern troops respond to the Federal attack,
both left and right.
Gen. Rains disposed his men to resist the advance and soon Gen. Price led
other Missourian troops to his assistance, having directed Generals Parsons,
Clarke, McBride amd Slark to occupy the high grounds at the west of Wilson's
Creek supported by Buddsai's and Guibon's Batteries, with the gallant Weightman.
They contested the ground inch by inch. Here was witnessed some of the most
heroic valor displayed during this trying war. It was western man accustomed
to outdoor life and hardships and to the use of firearms engaging other western
men just as brave, just as heroic and just as fearless and determined as
themselves. When such men make war they are in earnest and fatal results
follow their meeting. the possession of these woody heights being the key
to the battlefield. Here was made the most determined resistance by both
armies. Gen. Lyon seeing and understanding the importance of this position
concentrated his main efforts to secure and hold it. Equally did Gen. Price
comprehend the situation.
(Woodruffs battery had, during the time we were encamped on Wilson's Creek,
occupied the hill east of the creek and also of the Stoneyfield road, commanding
both the road and also the valley of the creek down which Gen. Lyon approached
to the attack. His position was not changed as the battery was most favorably
located, enabling him at once to reply to Lattern's challenge. Col. Gratiott's
3rd Arkansas Infantry was ordered to support Woodruff's Battery and remained
in position until taken by Gen. Pearce to re-inforce Gen. Price on Blanny
Woodruff lost Lieut. Weaver killed and several men killed and wounded.)
Manfully did Price lead his brave Missourians against the determined foe.
That portion of Gen. Lyon's command under Capt. Plummer crossed to the east
side of Wilson's Creek and into Ray's field and then were attacked by Gen.
McCulloch with regiments of Col. McIntire's dismounted riflemen and Col.
Hiburt's 3rd. Louisiana Infantry. After a severe fight in which both sides
lost severely, the Federals retreated across to the west side of the creek
and joined the main body of Lyon's army. During the engagement Duberr's Battery
was effectively served against the southern troops in Mays field. Lattens
Battery had also been actively engaged against Price's troops and also at
intervals on a portion of Pearce's command. The 3rd Arkansas Infantry was
under Col. Grotot and Woodruff's battery of light artillery. The latter had
been paying his compliments with telling effects, on his old drill master
Capt. Lotter, whose battery captured at Little Rock, Arkansas was now commanded
by Capt. Woodruff and did most excellent service in this battle. We now return
to Gen. Siegel. After he opened fire with his battery on Churchill's camp
that regiment hastened out of the field in which they were wounded into some
treeline to the south west and there Col. Churchill succeeded in forming
the remnants as infantry and lead them to join
Gen. Price and his Missourians and fought gallantly as testified by Gen.
Price in defense of the position for which the two armies were contending.
Churchill's loss was very heavy, but that of the enemy in front of him was
also. Siegel moved on through the camp and north in Sharp's field to near
Sharp's house. Coming immediately in the rear of the Confederate center held
by Gen. Pearce's command. As soon as the information was issued that the
enemy was approaching , Gen. Pearce ordered his 3rd Arkansas regiment to
support Woodruff's Battery on the heights, east of the creek and south of
the Fayetteville road. He moved Reed's Battery to a hill lower down the creek
and assigned the 5th Arkansas Infantry to support it. The 4th Arkansas Infantry
he stationed on an eminence, still further east and in the direction that
Siegel was reported to be seen approaching. These dispositions were promptly
and rapidly made.
The command had slept on their arms , had only to be called to attention
to be ready for action. When Siegel moved to the rear of the position assigned
to Reed's Battery, he ordered his pairs unlimbered and directed north towards
the troops on the hills, but did not fire. He then limbered up, moved west
to near Sharpe's house and went in Battery facing west. It was still so dark
that it was difficult to determine which command it was in the field. Gen.
Pearce ordered Capt. Jefferson, chief of Ordinance and Emmet McDonald a spy
glass to go and ascertain to what command these troops belonged. Capt. Jefferson
was captured by them and before McDonald could return with his spy glass,
Gen. Pearce had recognized the flag as the bearer had allowed the wind to
extend its folds and turning to Capt. Reed ordered him to open his battery
on them as they carried the Stars and Stripes, which order was obeyed with
alacrity and with a most telling effect. Reed having an unfailing fire, he
literally tore Siegel's command and battery to pieces. Gen. McCulloch having
discerned the approach of Siegel had taken a position of the 3rd Lancers
in regiment and leading them across the creek and down towards Sharp's house
had, just as Reed's battery opened on Siegel, attacked him from in front
with the Louisianans and completely routed the whole command, capturing 5
peices of artillery and many Missourians. Siegels troops scattering through
the woods, now pursued by the Texan and the Missouri Cavalry and a great
many were captured.
In fact Gen. Siegel reports that he reached Springfield with only a single
orderly. The discomfiture of Siegel, he accounts for by claiming that he
mistook the confederate troops for a portion of Gen. Lyon's command which
he supposed had succeeded in defeating the confederates in his front and
was then ready to join Siegel in eliminating the remainder of McCulloch's
army. That when Reed's Battery commenced to mow his men down his "dutchmen,"
they cried out in Dutch that their "friends were firing on them" and Siegel
says refused to fight and in turn and disgrace threw down their arms and
fled. Siegel also claims that Capt. Corn with his cavalry did not render
him any protection. He got away.
(About the only damage Siegel did was by the rounds his battery fired into
Weightmans command, Churchill's infantry) and while Reed was playing on both
his artillery and Infantry, he also was incurring the attention of Capt.
Bledsoe who with old Sacramento was dictating death and destruction in his
command. Then came McCulloch with his 3rd Louisiana Infantry to complete
his entire overthrow. He was annihilated.
At about half past eight AM Gen. McCulloch found the field favorable to the
Confederates. McIntosh and Hibut had repulsed Plummer and driven him out
of Wilson Creek. the Arkansas and Louisiana troops had completely defeated
(It should be stated that just after the affairs with Siegel and the cavalry
had returned from the pursuit of his troops, that Gen. McCulloch ordered
a cavalry charge by Gurl's Texas and Carroll's Arkansas Cavalry on the federal
position. Which was gallantly executed under Col. Gurl and Col. Carrol. They
succeeded in capturing a battery but failing to take possession commanders
returned and recaptured and carried off their battery after the cavalry had
left it, going around the right flank of the federal troops and some men
killed and missing in the charge.)
Matters were not so satisfying with Price in front of Lyon. Here had been
desperate fighting and over the same ground, both armies had advanced and
retreated repeatedly as one or the other procured the advantage. Both armies
were wasted, in fact exhausted and as if by mutual consent a cessation of
the combat was agreed to. But this in reality was the lull before the storm.
A recuperation of energy, the more effectively to strike the fatal blow,
a rescuing of power for the final and desperate effort. An aide from Gen.
price rode up to Gen. Pearce with the request that he come to the assistance
of the Missourians who were sorely pursued by the Federals. Col. McIntosh
Gen. McCulloch's chief of staff , also came to me and informed me that Gen.
McCulloch wanted me to re-inforce Gen. Price and his Missourians as they
were about being compromised by the union troops. I directed McIntosh to
take a section of Reed's Battery and 5 companies of Darkury's regiment and
that I would take Gratiot's 3rd Arkansas regiments and go to Price's assistance.
In crossing the creek Lieut. Col. Weil commanding the 5 companies of Dockery's
regiment was mortally wounded and Col. Dockery then lead the command. I
immediately gave command to Grotiot's 3rd Arkansas to move by the left flank
and marched them across the creek and up the slope to the crest of the hill,
to the west, where I met Col. Gurl and Clark who pointed out the position
held by Gen. Price. I directed the regiment to where he was and reported
that I had come with replacements and asked him for orders. He directed me
to move to the north (left) telling me that the gunnery held the ground in
front. In the mean time the troops of both armies had recuperated and were
preparing for a final struggle. Gen. McCulloch, to meet the preparations
being made by the enemy, who could be plainly seen massing his forces, at
once began concentrating the troops on Gen.
Price's command as there was the key to the position and for which the main
struggle had been made. the Missourians occupied the center of the new line
of battle. Col. Hibut's, Churchill's, McIntosh regiments with McNea's battalion
constituted the right and the 3rd Arkansas followed by a section of Reed's
battery and the 5 companies of the 5th Dockery's regiment comprised the left.
The battle was opened by a charge led by Gen. Pearce with the 3rd. Arkansas
on through the 2nd Kansas Col. Mitchell. The impassivity compelled the Kansans
to give way and falling back on their 2nd line created confusion in their
ranks and before they could recover from it, Gratoits regiment was pressing
them so that both lines gave way and Col. Mitchell of the 2nd Kansas shot
through the thigh with a cannon ball fell from his horse. While this was
going on and to the left Gen. Price with his brave Missourians had charged
the enemy's center and after a fierce struggle succeeded in repressing the
enemy and finally driving him back with great loss. Gen. McCulloch with the
troops on the right made a brilliant charge on the left of the enemy which
drove them, after a hard fight, back on the center which had been forced
to retire by Gen. Price. The whole line of the enemy had given way and the
Confederates advanced their line over and beyond that held by the federals
since 8:30 that morning and soon the fact was discovered that the enemy was
in retreat. In fact but little more firing occurred during the engagement
just discribed the artillery companies were not idle, the batteries of Latten
and Dubois were actually engaged and rendered great assistance by appearing
on the Confederate advance as they charged the Federal line. On the confederate
side Capt. Woodruff's continued to pour in grape and canister round shot
and shell with destructive fatality, Guibar and Bledsoe were also conspicuous
for the manner in which their batteries were secured The section of Nuid's
battery that accompanied the Arkansas troops did gallant service against
the Kansas and Iowa troops. Gen McCulloch seeing the federals driven from
the field, held the battlefield until the enemy had retreated and then ordered
the troops to their camps. After which the necessary details were made for
burying the dead and taking care of the wounded. Temporary hospitals were
improvised by the medical staff and those brave self sacrificing men devoted
their skill and science to the relief of the unfortunate wounded. Thus terminated
the first battle of the Civil War of any importance in the west.
Many have wondered and others criticized Gen. McCulloch for failing to push
his success as there is no doubt but had the enemy been pursued, the whole
army would have been surrounded. Then why was it not done? For the best of
all reasons. The Confederates were out of ammunition. The bullets they had
molded the evening before the battle had been expended in the fight and there
was no ordnance depot near to furnish a fresh supply. I have never doubted
for a minute that had there been a supply of ammunition, that Gen. McCulloch
would have captured the entire Federal army. Not having it, he could not.
Sometime during the hard fighting on bloody hill, Gen. Lyon, the commander
of the federal forces was killed. It was believed, shot by one of Gen. McBrides
men with a squirrel rifle, but such was the case no one can tell. Col. Mitchell
of the 2nd Kansas told me when I visited him in the hospital (Court House)
at Springfield. where he had been taken for treatment that when the charge
was made on their lines by the Confederates and they were driven back and
then the second lines, that before they could extricate themselves, the federals
pressed them so hard that the 2nd line also broke and that it was while
attempting to rally these troops Gen. Lyon received the fatal shot that he
(Mitchell) assisted him from his horse and that he soon expired. And that
in a few minutes he received the wound in the thigh that disabled him from
further service, and that the command was assembled by Maj. Sturgis USA who
at once ordered a retreat. But of this fact there is no question. That a
brave compadre and aggressive officer had fallen. One that possessed the
entire confidence of the abolition party and was in sentiment far in advance
of the time and there is no doubt had he lived would have held high command,
as he had the military education and qualifications eminently fitting him
for a great General. Marked as he was by those high in authority, whose
confidence he enjoyed, would have enabled him to surpass all competitors
for high command and distinction but the great leveler, death came and ambition
is laid low.
On the Confederate side was killed Col.Weightman commanding a Missouri Brigade,
a gallant and fearless and accomplished officer. whose service in the west
had made a him a popular and noted man. Also Col. Ben Brown of Ray County
and Col. G. W. Allin of Saline County, Missouri and Major Rogers of St. Louis
and some 150 non commissioned officers and privates belonging to the Missouri
State Guard gave up their lives in the Battle in defense of their homes.
In McCulloch's command Maj. Kellsoe, Capt. McAlexander, Lieuts Dawson, Chambers
and Johnson and Adjt Harper, Churchill's regiment, Capt. Henson of the 3rd.
Louisiana regiment and in Gen. Pearce's command the following men were killed.
Capt. Sam Dell, Capt. Brown and Lieut. Walton, 3rd Arkansas Infantry and
Lieut. W. Eason, Woodruff's Battery, Lieut. Col. Neul of the 5th Arkansas
Infantry and Maj. Ward of the 3rd. Arkansas Infantry was mortally wounded.
Capt. Walker of Carroll's calvary regiment dangerously wounded, Capt. Ramsen
and Porter and Liemto Nuenga, Hardworth, King, Adams and McGoor of Churchill's
regiment were slightly wounded.
Col. McIntosh was hit by a spirit grape shot, but not badly hurt and Jud
Cravens of Clarksville, Arkansas (late M.C.) was wounded severely having
received 4 or 5 wounds.
The total Southern loss as ascertained from the official reports about 270
killed and about 95 wounded and 100 prisoners.
The loss of the Federals was as reported. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon, commanding,
killed and Capt. Gruts of Missouri and Capt. Mason of Iowa also wounded Gen.
Sweeney, Col. Mitchell 2nd Kansas, Col. Dietzler 1st Kansas, Lieut. Col.
Andrews 1st Missouri, Adjt. Waldron 1st Iowa and Capt. Plummers U.S. and
the rank and file regular infantry about 235 killed, 750 wounded and 250
Col. Churchill's Arkansas regiment sustained more losses than any other command
in the Battle being 42 killed and 155 wounded, out of about a total of 600
men. McBrides Missouri Brigade sustained a loss of 22 killed and 124 wounded,
Weightmans Brigade 35 killed and 110 wounded and Cawthon's (both belonging
to Rains division) Brigade lost about 25 killed and 75 or 80 wounded. Gratiot's
3rd Arkansas regiment last in the charge made by Gen. Pearce against the
Kansas and Iowa troops, about 100 men were killed and wounded in less than
25 minutes. Out of a total of about 650 or 700 men. The Kansas (Federal)
lost heavily being 77 killed and 200 wounded and missing. The 1st Missouri
lost 76 killed and over 200 wounded and missing. The 1st Iowa 13 killed and
136 wounded. Capt. Plummers Battalion lost 19 killed and over 50 wounded.
N. B. Pearce
(late) Brig. Gen. 1st. Div.
Army of Arkansas