few moments I thought we had won the fight almost before we had begun it,
but just then I saw the Rebel camp fairly vomiting forth regiment after regiment,
until it seemed as if there was no end of men coming against us. They were
coming on the left and right and in front of us-in some places in three lines-all
on the double-quick, and then I changed my mind.
Gen John Clark
courtesy of "Borderland Rebellion" by Elmo Ingenthron
Price rode up to where General Clark was sitting on his horse..."General,
there will be the brunt of the battle, and my men are the ones to take and
hold that position." "Very well," replied General Price, "occupy it."
formed his line with remarkable skill and celerity. Cawthorne, fatigued by
his fight with the federal advance, occupied the extreme right, and one after
the other toward the left were the brigades of Slack, Clark, Parsons, and
McBride. Guibor's battery found a place between McBride and Parsons. With
this formation the Missourians marched up the southern slope of Bloody Hill
and took refuge in the thick mass of scrub oak which everywhere
soon came to form his brigade to the left of the road to Springfield and
on a wooded eminence immediately on our left. The General's staff and Guibor's
battery led the way, but before the infantry could cross the road on an endless
string of fleeing baggage wagons had so blocked the road that the infantry,
which had formed to their camp on the right of the road, could not
being so completely filled with the mass of moving trains and men rushing
then asked me if I knew where Kelly's regiment was. I answered, "I will find
it." He said, "Tell the Colonel to move up rapidly and form to the left of
the battery." At this time Guibor was pouring shot and shell into the advancing
Taylor now came galloping back, shouting: "Mount your horses and get into
line!"...in this movement the rear battalion of the regiment, under Major
Chilton, was cut off from us,...
Colonel Kelly with his regiment drawn up on the road by his camp awaiting
orders, or rather waiting for the wagons to clear the road so he could cross.
Just as I reached him the road cleared somewhat and I delivered my message.
The colonel said: "Bob, show me where the battery is (everybody in the brigade
knew me as Bob, the man that rode the bobtail gray horse). I succeeded in
leading them to where the battery was, and as the regiment was wheeling into
line, and while I was still between the enemy and Kelly's regiment, a volley
from the hidden foe swept over us and about us like hailstones. Charley O'Malley,
my poor, faithful horse, that my father gave to me to ride away to the war,
fell to rise no more. As he sank beneath me he neighed, and some of my comrades,
always said I cried. Be that as it may, I never saw the like again.
a lad, Robert E. Young, had his horse killed under him early in the day on
the field near by me. He then found a musket and fought with Captain Champion's
company during the balance of the conflict.
our brigade had been marched some distance from our encampment to the west,
Colonel Hurst, of the Third Regiment, and Colonel Clarkson, of the Fifth
Regiment, were led directly across Wilson's Creek, towards the main body
of the enemy, by Colonel Weightman in person,...
gap separated Slack and Cawthorne for awhile, but the arrival of Weightman,
the most energetic and promising of the Missouri brigadiers, perfected the
man with a gun of the same bore was given a bag containing about a gallon
of bullets, with directions to pour down a handful after ramming the cartridge
home, to hold the butt firmly against the shoulder, and not to fire until
within forty yards of the enemy. Colonel Burbridge instructed us to aim at
the breeches button, saying that a wound in the region of the stomach, if
mortal, would nearly always give the wounded man time to prepare to meet
after crossing the creek, just in front of us was a small hill. The side
next to us and the top were bare, no shrubbery, only short grass. It was
not more than 50 or 75 yards, it seems to me, from the foot of the hill to
the top. When on top of this little ridge we could see in front of us a trough
shaped rim some 200 or 300 yards wide, and rose to an oak hill at a distance
of from a fourth to a half mile off. Now this depression was covered with
a growth of small post oak which we in Missouri called Post Oak Runners,
very thick on the ground and from waist high to as high or higher than a
to Col Wingo
courtesy of "Borderland Rebellion" by Elmo Ingenthron
was a steep ridge, fifteen to twenty feet high, directly front and parallel
with the front of the Federal troops and about one-fourth of a mile from
them. It was steep on the south side, and then level or rather a little inclined
up to the position of Lyon's federal forces and Totten's battery (six guns).
By the time that both regiments got under cover of this ridge and in position
I saw that Lyon's forces were moving on us. I rode down and met Captain
was of necessity through thick undergrowth for nearly half a mile. After
getting that distance an open space was reached in which my batteries (could)
be brought to bear with effect upon the (enemy), he having appeared with
strong force (within) musket-range on my front.
two regiments of three months Iowa troops were being held in reserve on the
hillside in the rear, it was dangerous to put them in the general battle
line as their time was out - and they had been held by Capt
Lyon(sic) against their will to meet the emergency
he was up against....
most enthusiastic admirer of volunteers on our own side imagined for a moment
that, when the day of trial arrived, the representatives of Kansas, Missouri,
and Iowa would stand their ground hour for hour and shed their blood drop
for drop with the steadiest regulars in Lyon's command.
First Missouri....with a battalion of regular infantry, having been deployed
courtesy of "Missouri SCV"
as I was gaining the summit of the ridge I encountered the head of a column
of the enemy's infantry marching along the ridge from the north. Before my
batteries could open some ten or fifteen gallant young soldiers rushed for
some large oaks immediately in front of the enemy, and from behind the trees,
with their common hunting rifles, taking deliberate aim at their
"M" under letter by
after reaching the summit of the hill, and before we had formed in line of
battle, the front came upon a large body of the enemy, said to have been
Cherokee Indians, who were concealed in the grass and brush...
to W.Craig Gaines, author of "The Confederate Cherokees: John Drew's Regiment
of Mounted Rifles" there was at least one company of full blood Cherokee
Indian's fighting at Wilson's Creek)
officer was in sight; both Colonel Wingo and Colonel Foster had been wounded
in getting to the position. Captain McFarland and I decided to have the men
withhold their fire(our men were armed with shotguns and squirrel rifles)
until the federals got close to us. I took position about the middle of the
1st regiment with my horse high enough up the hill so I could see the movements
of the enemy; and when they got close to our line, some of them within fifty
or seventy-five feet of us, I gave the command, "To the top of the ridge
and fire!" Which they did, both regiments with the precision of old trained
veterans. This volley of slugs, chunks of lead, buckshot, and balls completely
upset the line; and just as we fired Major Woodruff, of the Little Rock
battery...turned loose on them...
"M" under letter by
within about thirty yards of them, they opened upon us a most terrific and
destructive fire. It seemed as if the entire line, about three hundred yards,
was fringed with a perfect blaze of fire and smoke, and the bullets rattled
around us, and through our ranks, like hail.
arriving to the left of Dubois' battery and approaching company e, I met
capt Cole, of that company, being taken to the rear in consequence of a wound
in the lower jaw, and although unable to speak, still by every action encouraging
Nelson D Cole
1st MO Infantry
(post war photo)
Captain Cole served throughout the war and was
discharged as a colonel. In 1898 he was appointed a Brigadier General during
the Spanish American War
Under Both Ranks
had not proceeded more than fifty yards when a furious fire of small arms
greeted them along the entire front....Some of the companies, appalled by
the dark jungle before them, broke for the rear, but the majority stood
Cary Gratz, commanding company E....while advancing at the head of his men,
he discovered a body of the enemy approaching, led on by a mounted officer,
carrying a union flag. Captain Gratz, drawing his revolver, fired and knocked
him off his horse, but upon reaching the ground he immediately arose and
rushed through his lines, at which instant captain Gratz fired a second shot,
pitching him headlong out of sight. The enemy then opened fire, and Captain
Gratz fell, pierced by five shots.
New York Tribune
were the faces covered with powder, and dripping with blood. Capt. Gratz,
gallantly urging his men forward against tremendous odds, fell mortally wounded,
and died soon after. Lieut. Brown, calling upon his men, to "Come forward",
fell with a severe scalp wound on the side of his head. Being carried to
the rear, faint and bloody, he cheered on those brave defenders of the country
whom he met, declaring that the enemy would yet be routed.
battery took position and opened fire; while the First Missouri was closed
up in line on the right and in front, where they engaged the enemy and maintained
position for some moments, under a heavy discharge of musketry.
"M" under Letters by
roar of the cannon, the whizzing of bombs through the air, the spiteful rattle
of musketry, and the clouds of dust raised by the heavy bodies of cavalry,
told us that the fight had become general, and that we might expect a share
of it before long.
One Who Was
was ostensibly in reserve, but the quick patter of the balls among the leaves,
the dull "thud, thud" as they struck the trees, the strange tenor of the
grape, combined with the heavy bass of full balls and shell, made some of
us think, perhaps, that it was a very queer reserve. I would not undertake
to say that there was not a tremor of the lips, a quickening of the pulse,
nor that hearts did not beat faster than usual as the long roll of musketry
and the heavy booming of our batteries broke upon the many listening
stationed on the left...My four hundred men occupied such an exposed position
that when the storm began to rage I ordered them to lie down, but being on
horseback I could not take advantage of that myself. I would have signed
a million dollar note, if the truth were known, for the privilege of hugging
that ground for a little while.
One Who Was
here that Lieut. Dyer, of Co. B. was killed-...He had raised up to notice
something on the field, when a ball struck him full in the mouth, going out
at the back of his head. He fell back dead, without a groan-...
to Jesse James)
of Phillip Steele site
met a volley of mini-balls that came from that brush that decimated our rank
and all we could see was the smoke from their guns...The only thing we could
do was to fire into the thicket at random...After delivering our fire into
that thicket we fell back from that conspicuous partition of shelter to
reload...We fell back under the brow of the hill, reloaded, then ascended
the hill to meet the same reception, but with more caution we tried to deliver
our fire before we received theirs. This was repeated again and again until
at last we charged them and dislodged them from his concealment.
my battalion in good order under a most galling discharge of small-arms,
then turned and assisted Colonel Hughes and General Slack in forming the
second battalion, which had been thrown into the same disorder, by the murderous
cross-fire to which they were exposed. We were not more than half musket-shot
from the enemy when we formed the line, during which movement several were
killed. The enemy was concealed in the brush, tall grass and weeds. I ordered
our men to lie down until he unmasked himself. They were waiting for us to
advance upon their ambuscade, but after a few moments they uncovered and
in the cultivated valleys, the soil exhausted itself in the support of stunted
trees known as scrub-oak, or black-jack. These afforded excellent cover for
an enemy laying in wait,...And rendered the field altogether impracticable
now gained the key to the position of General Lyon's command. From this point
the ridge sloped off gradually in all directions, and I had a fair view of
the armies around me.
New York Tribune
balls flying like an aggravated swarm of bees around one's ears was actually
pleasant compared with the tremendous whiz of a cannon ball or the bursting
of a shell in close proximity to one's dignity.
Lyon's Missourians and their allies had come within easy range of Price's
Missourians, out of the ranks of the latter there rang upon the air the sharp
click of a thousand rifles, the report of a thousand shot-guns, and the roar
of Guibor's guns; and the battle of Wilson's Creek had begun in earnest.
Missourians now fought to the death against Missourians, on the leafy hill-side;
while from opposing heights, Totten, who had but lately been stationed at
Little Rock where his family still resided, fought furiously against Woodruff's
Little Rock battery, which now turned against him the very guns which they
has taken from him a few months before.
like an old-fashioned "fugue" tune where the parts were the tremendous voices
of heavy ordnance - a single voice would lead off a note or so, then another
would join and another in quick succession till all the sulphurous voices
in one sublime chorus were reverberating over the hills and across the prairies
with a volume that shook the earth like Niagara.
stopped firing over their heads at the enemy battery, and turned upon the
Under Both Flags
men, encouraged by their success, pushed up the hill with wild shouts. The
Federals had been quickly reformed, and poured into their assailants a deadly
volley, which drove them back out of sight into the brush. They soon came
to a stand, however; and at a distance of less than a hundred yards, but
unseen by each other, the two armies maintains a spirited contest for an
got nearer to us, their own artillery ceased to fire, because it endangered