Flag Meaning
Union forces

While Lyon and Sigel prepared their separate commands, McCulloch and Price make their own plans....



Union on move Confederates prepare to march on Springfield


Price rode up..."Gen McCulloch, are you going to attack Lyon or not?" Mcculloch said that he was undecided. "Then," cried Price, "I want my own Missouri troops, and I will lead them against Lyon myself if they are all killed in the action, and you, Gen. McCulloch, may go where in the devil you please!"....McCulloch yielded at last, and ordered the army to be in readiness to move that night (august 9), at nine o'clock.


...Orders issued in the evening of the 9th of August to be ready for the march at 9 o'clock p.M. So as to bring on the attack at daylight on the 10th.


About nine o'clock, our bugle sounded the call for "boots and saddles"...while all this was going on,....the lightning was flashing, and the thunder was crashing....


...It commenced raining. Price's Missourians had no cartridge boxes.The riflemen carried their ammunition mostly in their pockets; those with shotguns had their powder horns and shot pouches.


Before that time a slight rain began to fall, and the order to march was countermanded, the officers being instructed, however, to hold their men in readiness to move at any moment.


At the hour named for the march there fell a little rain with strong indications of more, which caused the order to march to be countermanded. After a conference with gen price this was thought to be prudent, as we had an average of only 25 rounds of ammunition to the man and no more to be had short of Fort Smith or Baton Rouge. Not more than one man in four was furnished with anything better than bags, made of cotton cloth in which to carry their cartridges. The slightest rain or wet would have almost disarmed us, as many of the men had nothing but the common shot gun and rifle of the country without bayonets.


....The order came to protect our ammunition from the rain that began to pour down about this time,....


we "stood to horse," as it were, all night, waiting for orders....


...Our pickets guards being drawn in everything semed ready for such a move, but for some cause unknown to me we were not marched off nor did we break up camp...


We had supper but were not permitted to unsaddle our horses. We slept some, holding our bridle reins in our hands.


Of course our men, becoming weary with standing and waiting, lay down at the feet of their horses, reins in hand, and slept.


When one is weary, a blanket on the ground is just as comfortable as a bed under a slate roof.


...we had orders to get ready to move at a moment's warning. After everything was in readiness to move lieutenant dawson called to John Toomer and said: "John get your fiddle and let's have a little dance and fun; it may be the last time we will ever dance together." How true the prediction, for before the morrow's sun had gone down their spirits, with those of the others killed, had flown, and their bodies lay stark in death's icy embrace.


When the order came to lie on our arms, being very tired, we tied our horses to the blackjacks and rolled into the hazel brush whole-booted and spurred...


The rain continued, but not heavy;...Though the rain ceased about eleven o'clock and the night became fine, nothing was said about marching. Another postponement? The suspense was becoming unbearable. The men sought the driest place they could find to lie down. The weather looked better, and it was supposed that we should march forward at dawn of the day.


In this position we remained until daybreak when we were ordered back to our camps. When the "forward movement" commenced, our picket guards were ordered in and we, expecting to move at any moment, the pickets were not sent out again. Our men, having lost a night's sleep, when they reached their camps fell, many of them, upon the ground and were soon asleep.


...So General McCulloch then revoked our marching orders and we all began hunting sheltered places to sleep, but sleep was out of the question for I believe every mosquito along wilson creek was on the warpath....

(Interesting note - had it not rained this evening, one of the most bizarre situations could have happened. Lyon's forces moved out of Springfield to the west, then south to sneak up on the Confederates. Sigel moved south, then west. The battle plan for McCulloch involved moving northeast along the wire road. Had both gone through with their individual plans, both armies would have shown up at opposing places the morning of the 10th, and effectively switched positions without a shot fired. This would have put Lyon in a serious situation, as he would have been completely cut off)


Daylight found some of the men up, starting fires to prepare coffee for breakfast, while the majority were sleeping on the ground, and numbers of our horses, having slipped their reins from the hands of the sleeping soldiers, were grazing in the field in front of the camp.


About dawn General Price sent me to ask General McCulloch what he proposed to do. He and McIntosh returned with me to Price's quarters on the west side of the creek, at the foot of bloody hill which sloped down toward us from the north-west. As our breakfast of cornbread, lean beef, and coffee, was about to be served, McCulloch and McIntosh were invited to share it.

Robert E Young, MSG

Parsons Orderly

Photo courtesy of Missouri Sons of Confederate Veterans


At daylight I called up Parsons Creek, Sid a bright colored boy, the general's servant, and whom he had brought with him from home. Sid soon had breakfast such as it was, ready-roasting ears, coffee made of cornmeal browned and "sow" belly. The general and I breakfasted together although I was a private soldier on detail. The general had known me from infancy, and always treated me though I was his own son. The general was a small eater, and was soon done, and ordered his horse, a beautiful blooded bay, with black mane and tall black legs, not a white hair on him, to be saddled. He sat there joking me about my eating, and declaring that I ate so much it made me poor to carry it. I was about the sparest-built man in camp. Capt. Standish, adjutant of staff, being nearly as slim as myself, often said: "bob, you and I are safe if we keep sideways to the enemy, for we are so thin we would split a bullet."


....Colonel Cawthorne, who was in immediate command of rains' mounted brigade, sent out a picket.... This picket had not advanced more than a mile and a half beyond gibson's mill, when they discovered that an enemy was in their front.


At daylight the smoke hanging over the enemy's camp was fully before us.

Under Both Flags

We passed a rude cabin near a cow-path, and in the door stood a group of children dressed in their night clothes who had been roused from their beds by the commotion. They looked with surprise at so many hunters all dressed alike, and evidently wondered what particular game we were in search of. The innocents of Oak Hill had not long to wait for sights and sounds which they would remember for many a day.


...were riding three horses out to pasture....When a mounted stranger came riding rapidly and shouted..."Children, get out of here: they'll be fighting like hell in less than ten minutes."


Rains,...had learned...That some sort of a force was coming toward him from the northwest. He accordingly directed Colonel Snyder, of his staff, to go and "see what was the matter.".... Lyon, seeing that his approach was at last known to the Confederates and that his further advance would be contested, now deployed his men into line,...Snyder, on reaching the prairie, saw the federals approaching. Hurrying back to Rains, he told him that the Federals were advancing in great force, "their soldiers and cannon covering the whole prairie." Rains ordered him to report the facts instantly to General Price.


"Mother was greatly alarmed when we came running to tell her what the stranger had told us, for she knew the Confederate troops were encamped in a valley a short distance from our farm,...She knew of course that there would be a battle royal if General Lyon moved his troops from Springfield, ten miles away, to meet the Southerners...."

Gen James Rains


Photo courtesy of "Borderland Rebellion" by Elmo Ingenthron


Snyder, coming up almost breathless with haste and excitement, said that Lyon was approaching with twenty thousand men and 100 pieces of artillery, and was then within less than a mile of rains' camp....McCulloch, believing that this was "one of Rains' scares," told Snyder to say to that officer that he would himself come to the front directly. In two or three minutes another officer came dashing up and said that Rains was falling back before overwhelming numbers, and needed instant and heavy reinforcements.

(Brig Gen James Rain's 8th division of the Missouri State Guard had a rough beginning. At the battle of Carthage, they earned the nickname, "blackberry pickers" when union forces surprised them while they were picking blackberry's and sent them running. At Dug Springs, just a few days before the battle of Wilson's Creek, union forces would discover the Confederate force approaching  Wilson's Creek. Rains division was in front of the confederate army, and made a hasty retreat. For this action, McCulloch began using the term "Rain's scare". And here at Wilson's Creek, Rains once again would have the misfortune of being stationed in the spot the union army decided to surprise attack from. But before the day was finished, Rain's men would prove they were no cowards)


"Mother found father on the front porch. There he was holding the baby, calm as you please, with mother trying to convince him that all of us would be killed if we didn't run to cover. All she could get out of him was 'Roxanna, don't be alarmed. Some fellow told the children this story to frighten them'...Just as father was telling mother not to be alarmed all of us saw what appeared to be a black line moving in the distance, and as we watched it we recognized it as an army of marching men.


Company H, Captain Yates, was at once thrown out as skirmishers, closely followed by the regiment in column of companies, and advancing up the hill, the action was commenced by a shot from my skirmishers at 10 minutes past 5 o'clock.


Hunter thereupon retreated, and Lyon moved forward as rapidly as the ground would permit.

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After viewing the web site battle of Wilson's Creek, August 10, 1861, it is with pleasure that the American Civil War Excellence award be humbly bestowed upon the web site, Battle of Wilson's Creek, August 10, 1861. We at the 18th Louisiana Infantry regiment (volunteers) and the 28th Thomas' Louisiana Infantry (volunteers) take great pride in the fact that David Long, the web master, of this exquisite civil war site has put forward, for all to enjoy and partake, a most enjoyable banquet of materials that boggle the mind and yet pleases the pallet for any connoisseur of civil war history. The materials presented for the viewing are presented straightforward in book format, intricately detailed, with an abundant splashing of photographs, diary entries, letters, newspaper articles, and recollections by the gallant participants of this early american civil war battle. Mr. David Long is to be commended for his tireless efforts in presenting the materials in a most favorable fashion, particularly the chronology of events with no favoritism shown in the presentation. The subtle use of graphics to highlight each passage is unique. Sir, the men who participated in the Battle of Wilson's Creek would surely tip their kepi in respect for the service you have rendered them and their memory. We at the American Civil War Excellence Award join them in the spirit of the moment...A job well done!

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