Flag Meaning
Union Forces

Lyon decides to attack



Leave Springfield, Lyon west, Sigel south SW of Spfld


On the evening of the 8th of August, 1861, General Lyon called a council of war.... General Lyon said in the presence of the council: Gentlemen, there is no prospect of our being re-enforced at this point; our supply of provisions is running short; there is a superior force in front; and it is reported that Hardee is marching with 9,000 men to cut our line of communication. It is evident that we must retreat. The question arises, what is the best method of doing it. Shall we endeavor to retreat without giving the enemy battle beforehand, and run the risk of having to fight every inch along our line of retreat, or shall we attack him in his position, and endeavor to hurt him so that he cannot follow us. I am decidedly in favor of the latter plan. I propose to march this evening with all our available force leaving only a small guard to protect the property which will be left behind, and marching by the Fayetteville road, throw our whole force upon him at once, and endeavor to rout him before he can recover from his surprise.

Brig Gen Thomas W Sweeney

MO Volunteers

courtesy Thomas Sweeney


Genl. Sweeney waved his one arm...And his face flushed livid red, as he shouted, "Let us eat the last bite of mule flesh, and fire the last cartridge, before we think of retreating".


...I, being very tired, had fallen asleep on the sofa. The general came in to talk to my mother, and as he was taking his leave I waked up and heard him say, "Mrs. Phelps, I have asked for reinforcements many times. None have reached me. Price is now advancing on Springfield with a rebel army of about fifteen thousand men. I have decided to go out and meet him - although I have only seven thousand men. I do not believe we can win, and if we are defeated I believe I will be killed. I beg you will take care of my body."


There was no objections offered to this plan of General Lyon, except that a large part of the command had just returned from a fatiguing scout, and had taken no food since morning; it was therefore decided to defer the execution of this plan until the next night.


He(Lyon) had sent for me to ask if I wanted an independent command, ...I answered affirmatively...I saw two or three men with him, manifestly natives of the country because of their dress...They were his spies and had succeeded in capturing the muster-rolls of Price and McCulloch, from which it appeared they had 25,000 men. Our force did not exceed 5,000. I then said to General Lyon.."You do not propose with this handful of men to go down there and attack that united army,' and I began to think my independent command would not be so pleasant after all. He pulled his chin whiskers, a habit he had when engaged in thought and he was a nervous man in his way... Replying it was absolutely necessary to make an attack upon the confederates to save our commissary and quartermaster stores in retreat.

Topeka Tribune

We wish the boys a good time, and hope that, when their term of enlistment expires, they may return home laden with well deserved honors reaped from the field of strife....Quite a number composing these companies, were in Kansas and through the wars of '55-'56, and thoroughly understand the programme of border warfare.

Arkansas True Democrat (quoting Miss Juliet Langtree, upon the presentation of a banner to the departing Pulaski Artillery)

Remember also, that while you are gone, you will not be forgotten. Many a mother's and many a sister's heart will yearn after you while you are toiling in the arduous campaign. In the heat of the day or the darkness of night, those you leave behind you will drop a tear for the soldier, and offer a prayer for his safety. Take then this flag and let your determination be like that of the Spartan mother's advice when she presented her son with his shield: "Come home with it or come home on it. 

Letters to Hattie

I cannot tell when I shall come home. I have made up my mind to one thing however. I shall not serve longer than October, and if the campaign is not then over, I shall resign and come back to you, to home and to business. My health is excellent but I suffer greatly from the heat. I am red and blistered from head to foot....I sometimes lie awake thinking of you and you can conceive always wish I was with you instead of out here soldiering and lying all on the bare ground....Be a true woman darling, and in the hereafter I trust we may live lives of happiness together, honorable to ourselves and more dutiful to god than we have heretofore done.

Neill (Independence County Chronicle Vol 8 No 1)

Dear mother - I have time to write but few lines...Time was when we felt a reverential love for the stars and stripes but it has been perverted to a damnable purpose and whilst we should remember with pride the days of glory I think it now the most hateful flag in existence. The flag of England would not have excited more bitter emotions in my bosom than the striped rag flaunting on the cupola....I think there is a spirit pervading the very atmosphere of the south which breathes death to tyranny and the demonation of a usurper. We have the example of the Revolution in '76 and should prove worthy of our ancestors in the great struggle going on. Regards to my friends.... Robert Neill.

Father to Son Topeka Tribune

"In the first place, then, my son, when a soldier shoulders his rifle under the flag of his country, he must surrender to that country his will, his whims, tastes, fancies and prejudices; and the first, highest and most solemn duty he owes to that country is the most implicit and prompt obedience. Disobedience, even in matters of minor gravity, frequently forfeits life. If an order is issued, that must be the end of the inequity. The success of the battle or campaign may depend upon the concealment of the purposes of the command....Obedience is not servility-it is duty. It is, therefore, not cowardly, but honorable.

Letters to Hattie

I apprise you of all this, as I did once before when we were about to go into action, because I wish you to have any last words and thoughts - my life now belongs to my country, but my love belongs to you, and dearest you have it all, all the legacy, unfortunately, I can leave to you in case I should fall. I do not anticipate any fatal result, still it may come.


Beloved wife: on tomorrow I start for the the war camp of General Ben McCulloch near Springfield, MO. Should I arrive in time for the battle at Springfield, and it is deemed necessary I may engage in the fight, and should I fall, remember it will be for your and our children's liberty and the freedom of our country-and it is a holy and just cause, humbly relying upon the god that protects the right. I commit myself now to his keeping, trusting that he will do all things well....Should I never return, my will and pleasure is that a portion of the property over which god has placed me as steward should be sold, sufficient to pay my indebtness-the remainder to be carefully husbanded for the mutual benefit of yourself and the children-Dewitt Tureene, Leroy, Bemoulli, Mary Inez, and Edwin Greenwood. That the children should all receive a good English education and be reared in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Fare thee well, and should we meet no more on earth, then fare thee well till we meet to part no more in the world of endless light.  most affectionately, B.F.Boone

(BF Boone did not make it in time to take part in the battle of Wilson's Creek. He did make it to the battle of Prairie Grove, AR on Dec 7, 1862 and received a wound in that battle that would prove fatal)

Letters to Hattie

I shall not sleep to night being ordered to special guard duty - I shall look at the clear heavens and the brightest stars which spangle the firmament as with ornaments of gold and silver, and shall think how beneficiently all this glory is wrapped over our own far off house, where you lie in sweet sleep, maybe dreaming of your absent husband. As I write, I breathe a prayer to God, whom I believe in, whom I once served, but whom I have terribly provoked of late years, that he will grant your prayers and mine, and bring us once more together, to live for each other and for him and his glory. Goodbye dearest, L.L.J. (written by levant L Jones of Olathe 1st Lt of Company F 1st KS)

Major John Schofield

Chief of Staff to Gen Lyon

Under Both Flags

Schofield, the Chief of Staff, conspicuous by his long beard, came up to a group of officers, and, being asked for information, "Gentlemen," he said, "it's all settled; we are to advance within an hour, and if we don't have to fight in the morning McCulloch will be to blame." Then they shook hands all around,...Lyon and Plummer soon came out, whispering and dragging after them rusty sabres that would force an inspecting officer to suicide.


Great stir in camp this evening. General Lyon had issued an order that this night shall decide the fate of southern Missouri. The enemy are encamped twelve miles from here on Wilson's Creek. We are going to march on them tonight.


In the mean time Sigel procured an interview with General Lyon, and persuaded the General to allow him a separate command.

One Who Was There

We had been "spoiling for a fight," and the prospect was that our desire would soon be gratified.


"Men, we are going to have a fight. We will march out in a short time. Don't shoot until you get orders. Fire low and aim higher than their knees; wait until they get close and don't get scared; it's no part of a soldier's duty to get scared."...The absurdity of the last expression struck every one of us...It had no sense to it. As Bill Huestis said."How is a man to help being skeered when he is skeered?"... Shortly after Lyon had made his speech, ammunition was distributed....The boys filled not only their cartridge boxes but also their pockets. Our woolen shirts had pockets in the bosom, and most of the boys, besides filling their breeches pockets, had some in their shirt pockets; in short, we were "fixed."


...Dear old Irish general Sweeney...Made a speech to his cavalry....He said (so his boys told)..."Stay together, boys, and we'll saber hell out of them." This had enthusiasm to it. Just then a large covered army wagon drove up with a sergeant, who asked us how many "present for duty," and on being answered by Sergeant Utter, threw rapidly onto the ground an equal number of the large turtle-shelled loaves which I have described. They bounced around in the dirt and bushes and we each got one. My action regarding my loaf was perhaps descriptive of what others did. I plugged it like a watermelon and ate my supper out of the inside. When I had finished eating I fried up a lot of beef and pork (my two days' rations) and crammed it into the loaf and poured in all the fat and gravy. My haversack had been worn out and abandoned. I took off my gun-sling and ran it through the hard lip of the loaf, hung them over my shoulder, filled my canteen, and was ready for the march.


We followed the Mount Vernon or Little York Road some four miles, then turned off on the prairie, following a guide.


The day had been hot, and as the night began to grow cool, life became more endurable, and the marching was anything but a funeral procession. The boys gave each other elaborate instructions as to the material out of which they wanted their coffins made, and how they wanted them decorated. Bill Heustis said he wanted his coffin made out of sycamore boards, with his last words put on with brass tacks, which were, "I am a-going to be a great big he-angel."....I had made up my mind that if we were going to have a battle I certainly would not get killed, but might need all my strength and ability in getting away from the enemy's cavalry.

New York Tribune

On the march out many of those who now lie in their graves were joyously singing and feeling as gay as larks.


After going several miles in the night...we were ordered to keep still and to make no noise....a cavalryman passed us from the front, and we noticed that he was going slowly, and that his horse's feet had cloths tied around them, banded at the fedlock....Some one said that blankets had been tied around the artillery wheels...There were some little light clouds, but it was light enough to see a short distance around us, by starlight; it was in the dark of the moon. Finally word was passed along the line that we were inside the enemy's pickets, but were two or three miles from their camps....We could see the sheen in the sky of vast campfires beyond the hills, but could not see the lights. We also heard at times choruses of braying mules.

Under Both Flags

We were allowed fence-rails for pillows, however, which, with the blankets, secured us comfortable beds. "This is hard on rich men's sons," said one, as he lay in the rain. "We'll look like this when McCulloch gets through with us," said another.


...Early in the morning, just as there was a slight flush of dawn in the east, somebody came along and woke us all up, and told us to keep still and fall into line.

Sigel in the South


...We left Springfield on the evening of Friday, August 9th, 1861, marching due south, the regiment formed left in front. We marched all night, leaving the road and marching through woods and farms.

Col Franz Sigel

Commander 2nd Brigade


The troops assigned to me consisted of the Second Brigade Missouri Volunteers (900 men, infantry, of the third and fifth regiments, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Albert and Colonel Salomon, and six pieces of artillery, under Lieutenants Schaefer and Schuetzenbach), besides two companies of regular cavalry, belonging to the command of Major Sturgis....The Third regiment, of which 400 three-month's men had been dismissed, was composed for the greatest part of recruits, who had not seen the enemy before and were only insufficiently drilled.....The time of service of the Fifth Regiment Missouri Volunteers had expired before the battle. I had induced them, company by company, not to leave us in the most critical and dangerous moment,and had engaged them for the time of eight days, this term ending on Friday, the 9th...


On we marched in dead silence, smoking was prohibited, no commands were given aloud, a subdued, undefinable clanking of our arms and rumbling of our artillery carriages being the only sounds emanating from our column.....after following the Forsyth road for several miles we struck off to the right, marching through field and forest, on lanes and byroads, always in a westerly direction....At about midnight the column was halted and word passed along the line that we would have a couple of hours' rest. We went to sleep where we stood, my bad luck depositing me in a bed of spanish needles-no bed of roses by any means. At 2 a.M. We resumed our march....The night was dark and cloudy, occasionally we had light showers of rain, some thunder and lightning intermixed.

Capt Eugene A Carr

1st US Cavalry

attached to Sigel


Upon nearing the camp, after daylight, different stragglers were met going from the camp to the surrounding country, and all captured, so that no intimation was given to the enemy of our presence...

August 9

Sunset 7:09 pm

Moonrise 10:27 pm

August 10

Moonset 2:40 am

Sunrise 5:02 am


August 1861








































August 10

High thin clouds

near 100 degrees

and humid

slight wind from the

West - Northwest

August 10, 1821- Missouri becomes 24th state - enters
Union as a slave state while Maine enters as free state

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