Flag Meaning
Union Forces

The State of the Confederate Forces

The Hempstead Rifles

Company B 3rd Ark under Col Gratiot

Hempstead County, Arkansas

photo courtesy of Thomas Sweeney


Wilson's Creek, rising in, and around, Springfield, flows westwardly some five miles and then, turning to the south, flows nine or ten miles in that direction before emptying into the james, an affluent of White River. A mile or so above its mouth it receives the waters of the tyrel's creek, flowing into it from the west; and a mile and a half further north a smaller stream, Skegg's Branch, flowing likewise from the west, empties into it. The road from Cassville, on which McCulloch was advancing toward Springfield(knows also as the Fayetteville, or Telegraph Road) crosses both Tyrel's Creek and Skegg's Branch just about their mouths. After crossing the latter, it runs northward along the western bank of Wilson's Creek nearly a mile, and then, crossing the creek at a ford, turns north-eastward toward Springfield, which is nine or ten miles beyond. Between Tyrel's Creek and Skegg's Branch there is a considerable valley, partly wooded, lying between the Fayetteville Road, and Wilson's Creek....Between Skegg's Branch and the ford across Wilson's Creek, the valley through which the road passes is quite narrow, and the road runs within a few yards of the stream. Toward the west a hill, since known as Bloody Hill, rises gradually from the creek to the height of nearly a hundred feet, its sides deeply seamed with ravines, and dinted here and there with sink-holes. At this time it was densely covered with undergrowth through which was interspersed a species of scrub-oak (Black-Jacks), and near its summit the rock cropped out in many places....The hill on the eastern side of the creek rises abruptly to the height of about seventy-five feet.

McDonald (interview with WF Steele)

This bottom where the army's tents were pitched, was partly cleared farm land, then and there were two large cornfields on it. The rest of the bottom within the camp was covered with rank weeds trampled by the army, and some scattering growths of timber and brush.....Its top, several acres in extent, was solid flat rock, which was bare in places and covered with thin layers of earth in others, out of which grew "scrubby" Blackjack Oak brush and a few large trees. The sides of the hill toward the camp were covered with scraggy Blackjack, too, not as high as a man's head.

Blue & Grey (Pvt John Dailey, Rifle Recruits)

The country round about was hilly and rough, and was intersected by ravines. Sink-holes were numerous;...


Here we remained for several days actively engaged in the various duties of camp life, and preparing for the coming battle. Wilson Creek afforded us water, and the black oak trees and bushes around us with others furnished us with wood; while the surrounding hills provided grass for our horses...After the nights darkness had enveloped the earth and rendered other things invisible, then the thousand fires from the adjacent hills and valley shot forth their light like so many stars in the canopy of the sky, while the hum of thousands of voices came wafted on the evening breeze and the hoarse challenge of the camp sentinel echoing through the hills and valley around.

Maj Gen Sterling Price

Commander Missouri State Guard

Photo from cdv

(It must be remembered that this is very early in the Civil War. This "Confederate" force included actual Confederate troops, led by McCulloch, troops loyal only to the state of Missouri, led by Price, and troops loyal to the state of Arkansas, led by Pearce. Eventually, most would join the Confederacy. In pre Civil War days, most citizens were loyal to their state, not the Federal, or Confederate government.)


"Now sir," said Price, still in a loud, imperious tone, "I have commanded in more battles than you ever saw, Gen. McCulloch. I have three times as many troops as you. I have higher rank than you are, and I am twenty years your senior in age. I waive all these things, Gen. McCulloch, and if you will march into missouri I will obey your orders, and give you the whole command and all the glory to be won there."

Brig Gen Ben McCullough

Confederate States of America

photo courtesy 3rd Louisiana Infantry History


...I assumed command of the entire force, compromising my own brigade, the brigade of Arkansas state forces under General Pearce, and General Price's command of Missourians. My effective force was 5,300 infantry, 15 pieces of artillery, and 6,000 horsemen, armed with flint-lock muskets, rifles, and shot-guns. There were other horsemen with the army who were entirely unarmed, and instead of being a help, were continually in the way.


We were all young then, and full of hope, and looked with delighted eyes on the first Confederate soldiers that we had ever seen, the men all dressed in sober gray, and their officers resplendent with gilded buttons, and golden braid and stars of gold. To look like these gallant soldiers, to be of them; to fight beside them for their homes and for our own, was the one desire of all the Missourians, who, on that summer day, stood on one of their own verdant prairies, gazing southward.

Spfld Leader Neville

Here were gathered together a strange and heterogeneous host of southern defenders. The Louisiana troops gave the confederate army its highest military tone. The gallant sons of the creole state who had left luxurious homes to fight in the ranks for Southern independence....From the western frontier of the imperial lone star state, where the waters of the rio grande are musical with a thousand memories of romantic adventure, the daring Texas ranger had ridden all the way across the vast intervening plains to participate in this glorious achievement of driving back the "northern invader". The bronzed Indian fighter, attired in his broad sombrero, fringed buckskin pants, capacious boots, jingling spurs and pistol belt was the most interesting spectacle of the Confederate camp...Boasting of neither patrician birth, nor heroic adventure, these ungainly sons of the Ozarks had left their homes to fight for that glittering cause which allured all classes of men to the field of death. The experience of these unlettered followers of the Confederate standard had been narrow indeed. Beyond their primitive homes, made of oak and pine logs, where the boys had been born and reared, their knowledge of the world did not exceed far. The thrilling coon hunt, the shooting match, the camp meeting and the christmas dances were the events that had given life its coloring of adventure for the young mountaineers, who were now trying so hard to master some of the simpler elements in the manual of arms.

Unidentified recruit Missouri State Guard Spfld, MO 1861

Well Colonel, ef its orders, I 'spose I'se bleeged to kerry the sticken thing. But all them Yankees is Dutch, and if one of them Dutch gets close enough to stick me with one of them things, and he don't run, I will.


Our forces were in sorry condition...At least 2,000 men had no weapons of any sort. The balance had any kind of a gun they could pick up at home. Yeager's or Mississippi rifles, which were in vogue during the Mexican War, and squirrel guns were the principle arms.


Many of them, when just emerging from boyhood, had fought under Price or Doniphan in Mexico; many had been across the great plains, and were endured to the dangers and privations of the wilderness; and many had engaged in the hot strife which had ensanguined the prairies of Kansas. Among them there was...not one who had not voluntarily abandoned his home with all its tender ties, and thrown away all his possessions, and left father and mother, or wife and children,...that he might himself stand by the South in her hour of great peril, and help her to defend her fields and her firesides.And among them all there was not a man who come forth to fight for slavery....There was not one of them who expected or who wanted to be paid for his services, or who ever was paid.

Lt Williamson Kilburn

Co K

3rd Texas Cavalry

photo courtesy of 3rd Texas Cavalry


Old, gray-headed men came in, armed with their old squirrel rifles, a pouch of bullets, a string of patching already cut out, and a powder horn full of powder, to help the boys whip the Yankees....


In all their motley array there was hardly a uniform to be seen,...there was nothing to distinguish their officers, even a General, from the men in the ranks, save a bit of red flannel, or a piece of cotton cloth, fastened to the shoulder, or to the arm, of the former....Many of them had not even enlisted, but had only come out to fight; thousands of them had not been organized into regiments; many of them were unarmed; none of them were uniformed; very few of them had been drilled. Their arms were mostly shot-guns and rifles, and they had no other equipments of any kind; no tents at all; no supplies of any sort, and no depots from which to draw subsistence, or clothing, or ammunition, or anything. They had no muster-rolls and they made no morning reports. They bivouacked in the open air, they subsisted on the ripening corn, and they foraged their horses on the prairie-grass.


The officers of the staff, who were small county lawyers, conducted their several departments somewhat after the fashion of a loosely kept county court. Colonels could not drill their regiments, Captains their companies, and many officers could neither read nor write. There was a drum and fife in the corps, which sounded  all the calls in one discordant tune; companies were paraded in the manner of convening a court of justice, the sergeants rushing out, exclaiming, "O yes! O yes! All who belong to Captain Brown's company, parade heer!" The officers and men messed together, they approached the General commanding, without salute, squatted on their haunches listlesly around his quarters and not infrequently addressed him as "Jedge". These men were armed with the squirrel rifle, and their accoutrements consisted of a powder horn, a cap puch, a string of 'patcher" and a hunter's knife....Like all primitive people thier ignorance was compensated by a shrewd, quick mind, a rapid instinct, caution and cunning, and like all back woodsmen their courage was serene and steady.

Harry (Col. Randolph Harrison Dyer, MSG)

Our troops have born all sorts of privation, almost naked, barefooted, without sugar or coffee. In fact nothing but beef and half rations of bread and that half the time without salt.


Here, a group would be molding bullets - there, another crowd dividing percussion-caps, and, again, another group fitting new flints to their old muskets.

(Much of the lead used by the Missouri State Guard to make bullets for this battle had been recently mined from the lead mines in nearby Granby, MO. This area had been secured with the victory over Sigel at Carthage)


".....furnished a few loose, round shot. With these for a beginning, Guibor established an "arsenal of construction." A turning-lathe in Carthage supplied sabots; the owner of a tin-shop contributed straps and canisters; iron rods which a blacksmith gave and cut into small pieces made good slugs for the canisters; and a bolt of flannel, with needles and thread, freely donated by a dry-goods man, provided us with material for our cartridge bags. A bayonet made a good candle-stick; and at night,... The men went to work making cartridges; strapping shot to the sabots, and filling the bags from a barrell of powder placed some distance from the candle....My first cartridge resembled a turnip, rather than the trim cylinders from the Federal arsenals, and would not take a gun on any terms. But we soon learned the trick and, at the close range at which our next battle was fought, our home-made ammunition proved as effective as the best.

Bugler Albert Blocker

Co A

3rd Texas Cavalry

photo courtesy of 3rd Texas Cavalry


Armed with shotguns and squirrel rifles, with their powder horns and shotbags, they must dispute the invasion of their country by well armed, equipped, and disciplined Federal soldiers; and face them on the battlefield.


All were eager to meet the enemy of their country and try the rights of the rebels to their so oft boasted claims.

Under Both Flags

It is a matter of surprise to many persons that two armies, after traversing hundreds of miles in search of each other, the troops on both sides confident of superiority and clamoring for battle, should spend so much time in devouring their food when a few hours' march would bring them together. The reasons for this inactivity were not widely known....


We were armed with old squirrel rifles, mostly flintlocks. We all had large homemade knives in scabbards by our sides.


It is really sickening just to think of only 10 miles between us and the enemy and the men all keen to advance and give him battle, and the commanders holding back in this way. Too bad. Too bad....I believe they are afraid to attack, this is my opinion privately expressed by the by.


While the army lay here waiting...McCulloch would every day sling his Maynard Rifle across his shoulder and reconnoiter towards Springfield, sometimes in force, and sometimes almost alone....He could learn nothing positive as to either Lyon's strength, or as to the defences of Springfield. To all the entreaties of Price and the Missourians that he would advance he only replied that he "would not make a blind attack upon Springfield"....


Breakfast is over and no orders about moving. Hell and damnation what do they mean. Suspense is killing us all.


On Thursday, the 8th, Price received information that Lyon was greatly perplexed; that he was in constant expectation of being attacked; that he kept his men under arms all the time; and that he was getting ready to abandon Springfield.

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