Deadlocked on Oak Hill
MSG Troops begin to falter
One Who Was There
came the order - "Kansas First to the front!" And with one good hearty cheer,
the regiment rose to its feet. As we advanced, the gallant Missouri First
fell back slowly and in good order, all the time hurling death upon the devoted
ranks of the south. On, through the thick woods, where the chivalric and
devoted Lyon bestrode his favorite dapple grey, with his old felt hat aloft
in his right hand, his small grey eyes sparkling with a fierce light, he
met us. "Forward like men,"....
"M" under Letter by
was my first battle - the first time in my life that I had men shoot at me,
I returning their shots as well as I could, and seeing men fall dead at my
side. I cannot say that I was frightened, for there is an excitement about
the matter that completely banishes fear, and makes one blind to the danger
around him. I saw the men fall, heard their groans, saw the enemy and heard
their bullets whistling around me, with, I believe, as much unconcern as
I would at witnessing a fire into a covey of quails. I had too much to attend
to, to think of getting frightened.
Halderman, First Kansas. Early in the action he led four companies of his
regiment (which had been held in reserve) gallantly cheering them on with
the cry of "Forward, men, for Kansas and the old flag!"
man wounded in our company, very probably the first in our regiment, was
Tom Hudson. He was tall, gaunt of figure, one-eyed, indifferent to fatigue
or danger, fond of a moderate indulgence in drink, much given to droll humor,
and popular with all the boys. He stood at my left in the front rank, and
two thirds on our way hurrying to the battle line, he was struck by a minie-ball,
which cost him his right leg.
to a position beyond that occupied by the First Missouri; and here-forming
in the very face of the enemy-engaged a rebel force four times their own
Price wore a linen duster and high-crown black wool hat. His was a superb
figure, large, and faultless in every detail. It has been truly said that
a large battle is the most magnificent spectacle on earth, but looking at
the grand scene before me in its greatest intensity, and again at the grand
man a few feet away, watchful of every movement on the field, silent, calm
and dignified, with countenance expressive of serene confidence in his
Missourians, I could not tell which impressed me the more.
courtesy of 2nd Kansas Cavalry
Lt Edward Lines funeral in 1867)
was struck, and severely marked by three rifle balls, his saddle was raked
by canister shot, two horses...were shot under him
Price rode an old looking, gray horse, wore a white slouch hat, duster and
looked like an old farmer.
followed Steele into action, and not finding any orders for me, selected
a cross-road where there is a ford for my position. The First Missouri having
had the advance up to this time and lost heavily, were withdrawn and placed
on my left.
courtesy of "General Officers of the Civil War"
edge of the meadow toward us, and between us, a low rail fence; the enemy
rallied under the shelter of it, as if by some inspiration or some immediate
change of orders, they broke it down in places and started for
when in line I, being at the end near the battery, was thrown in front of
it by the turning of the men at the other end. A rabbit was jumped up and
ran in front of us the whole length of the line,...
as a whole would rise enough to discharge their weapons and then lie down
while loading up.
a "bushwhack" fight - regiment after regiment, advancing and
I found myself the center of a very hot fire. It seemed, at that instant,
as if a swarm of the largest and most spiteful bees had suddenly appeared
M. Stultz, who stood in the rear rank behind me received a bullet in his
right groin,...Not long after this, william L. Wingfield,....who stood next
to me on the right, was severely wounded in the left shoulder.
courtesy of "Portraits of Conflict - a Photographic History of Arkansas
in the Civil War" by Bobby Roberts and Carl Moneyhon Univ of Arkansas Press
was...slightly wounded by the accidental punch of a bayonet by Frank Hinkle
who was in the rear rank just behind me.
Spfld Leader 8-10-1927
officer during the heat of the fight...picked up the sprig of a tree shot
over his head and calling to Col (major in this
battle) Cloud said he would keep it as a trophy, showing how close
he was to death. "You may be closer than that," said the colonel. Then the
officer was shot through the leg...(which was amputated and he carried a
cork leg as a trophy)
moment a dull thud sounded near, and glancing down at my side, I saw Tom
Bacon, of Hannibal, MO, slowly sinking to the ground. Mechanically I raised
my old smoothbore musket and fired. The gun was discharged at an angle of
about forty-five degrees, I was so bewildered and terrified. Just then I
heard a voice behind me exclaim: "O Weed, there are no Yankees in the tree
tops." I looked around and beheld Col. Sam Farrington, of St. Louis, aide
to General Clarke, sitting (on) his horse with as much composure as though
he were on dress parade.
down to the little creek and crawled under the roots of a big tree which
the water had washed out, and I just naturally stayed there all day. Sometimes
horses would fall in the water by me, all shot full of holes, and then men
would fall down on them, shot full of holes too.
formed in line in rear of some of Price's Missourians to give them support
when necessary...We were sitting in a dangerous and most unpleasant position,
sitting on our horses listening to minnie balls whistling by us on their
deadly mission. There was no music in them, nor in the cannon balls and shells
passing over us from the batteries firing at us over the coming federals..."I
wish we could get around those fellows in front of us and take that battery
which is making us dodge so much." Captain Chisolm of our regiment, who was
just in rear of his company near us, noticed the dodging and said to his
men, "Boys, you mustn't dodge" and just as he said it, a cannon ball passed
over him and ducking his head he said,"except when them big ones come."
a shabby little man, mounted on a shabby little mustang pony; in fact his
horse was so shabby that he would tie him, while we were at Dallas, away
off in the brush in a ravine and carry his forage half a mile to feed him
rather than have him laughed at....During the time we were kept slowly moving
along in the rear of our infantry, engaged mainly in the unprofitable business
of dodging balls and shells...,Captain Taylor...would frequently glance back,
saying: "Keep your places, men." Gum, however, was out of place so often
he finally became personal, "Keep in your place, Gum." At this Gum broke
ranks and came trotting up on his little pony, looking like a monkey with
a red cap on, for, having lost his hat, he had tied a red cotton handkerchief
around his head. When opposite the captain he reined up, and with a trembling
frame and in a quivering voice, almost crying, he said: "Captain, I can't
keep my place. I am a coward, and I can't help it." Captain Taylor said,
sympathetically: "Very well, Gum; go where you please."
men were ordered to the rear, but all the unarmed did not go to the rear
but stayed and watched for their chance to get a gun,...
courtesy of "Missouri SCV"
considerable time after the firing began McBride's men came up and completed
our line on the left. I remember our boys laughing at their odd appearance.
All had deer rifles and they knew how to use them. They couldn't stand in
a straight line, but all the shells that Totten's battery threw into them
could not make them give back a step.
front of us, appeared, advancing in the meadow, a body of men that we estimated
at about one thousand.
Missouri Historical Society and Virginia Easley, gr granddaughter
McBride's, and Parson's divisions were on the hill in line opposed to Lyon's
and his regulars. The first man, Craig, was hit in the pit of the stomach
by a spent bullet, not entering. We marched until we could take sight of
them. Crack, crack through our lines. Many a federal fell. A yell was raised
by us, then we fell back to load, then squatted. Soon Col. Reeves of Slack's
division came along without his men and with a musket in his hand. I went
with him some 30 steps in advance of the line, took sight and fired, then
fell back. This way we kept on.
of General McBride and Clark (and my) own, under Colonel Kelly, were sustained
(by) pieces both on the right and left, and (poured) unceasing and murderous
volleys upon (the) enemy at point blank range.
our officers had completed dressing our line on the color line, Lyon's men,
marching along the crest of the hill approaching our line obliquely, fired
upon us. A ball struck John Davis, passing through both lungs....
courtesy of Kansas State Historical Society Topeka, Kansas
of musketry and the roar of the cannon, mingling and comingling in the air,
was music to our ears. But the sharp reports and shrieks from the enemy's
guns, as their shells went crashing through the tree tops and often bursting
over our heads, were the reverse of music; at least they had no charms for
the Second Kansas.
volley was delivered at forty yards. At this distance a musket or shotgun
carrying a "handful" of bullets was a terrible weapon.
men were armed almost exclusively with shot-guns and common rifles, it was
imperatively necessary for him, near as the two forces already were to each
other, either to advance more closely to the union line, or to wait till
it should approach his own.
was a good deal of bad feeling between the states... and the raw troops from
each side were not averse, if the truth be known, to getting a shot at each
W. Tanner, perhaps the youngest boy in the company, fell, and it was found
that his right thigh bone was broken at the middle. Sergeant Shea picked
him up and carried him to the rear, but Bob struggled and kicked violently
to be free, his injured leg dangling the while, and cried out lustily, "Put
me down! Put me down! I want to kill some more Yankees!"
remaining companies...having been posted on the right of Totten's battery
as support, where they had suffered severely from a constant fire from the
enemy's line, were here ordered to the front, where they aligned upon the
remnant of the six right companies, which had thus far borne the brunt of
Mr. Willie, son of Judge A. H. Willie,...came riding up the column, passing
us. I was riding with Captain Taylor at the head of our company, and just
as Willie was passing us a ball from one of the sharpshooters' rifles struck
him in the left temple, and killed him. But for his position the ball would
have struck me in another instant.
courtesy Dr Thomas Sweeney
boy and I about my age cut two hickory poles and made a stretcher to carry
a wounded comrade off the field. A boy, the first one was mortally wounded,
we carried him over a mile, thinking maybe we could get him in an ambulance,
finally the poor fellow said, "Boys, I can't get well, I'll be dead pretty
soon, lay me down under a tree, leave some water, take my watch and send
it to my mother and tell her that I fell with my face to the enemy. He said,
"Now go on, you may get captured." We went out to the main road....
noticed far off across the ravine a federal sharpshooter stationed behind
a large hollow tree, from which apparently safe shelter he cautiously edged
around every few minutes and deliberately fired at such of our unguarded
patriots as chanced to come within range of his rifle. The tree that served
as his fort was only the decayed and blasted remnant of a once mighty monarch
of those hills....The rifleman had taken his position on the convex and
sound-looking side of this once grand old oak,....I called the general's
attention to the distant blue coat who was still having his own fun at our
expense. Parsons saw him fire a round or two, and then pointing him out to
one of his artillery men, suggested the experiment of catching that shooter
with a cannon shot. The gunner grasped the situation at once and said he
thought he could do it. A six-pounder was wheeled around and carefully loaded
and sighted.....The blue coat again peeped around and fired; and just as
he dodged back out of sight the cannon answered his puny puff of smoke with
a thundering admonition to quit that kind of nonsense.....We could not tell
if the iron shot had hit or missed the mark; but we saw nothing more of that
we would drive them up the hill, and in turn they would rally and cause us
to fall back.
side every man had Bull Run in mind. The union men felt that we must show
that we were going to make a savage fight. The rebs had to show that they
were not going to allow their standard to fall below that of the South
Carolinians and Virginians.
side were yelling, and if any orders were given nobody heard them. Every
man assumed the responsibility of doing as much shooting as he could.
courtesy of "Borderland Rebellion" by Elmo Ingenthron
from Iowa 8-22-61
General Sweeny, General Lyon, Major Schofield, and Col. Deitzer-the three
former on foot, and the latter on his white horse, riding up and down the
lines, continually exposed to the fire of the rebels - encouraging the boys
to stand firm and not run, as did some of the other regiments.
in the action Captain Guibor, sent by General Price to reconnoiter a position
on the flank, was captured,...During his absence the battery was handled
by John Corkery, a little Irish drillmaster - I do not know why, but probably
because Lieutenant Barlow, who was present, had not sufficiently recovered
from his wound, received at Carthage. Under Corkery's quick, sharp commands,
the firing became more and more rapid, and this was kept up for perhaps an
hour or more. Then Corkery was severely wounded, and as he fell he gave the
order to cease firing. The exhausted men dropped in their tracks, and I believe
they were fast asleep before they touched the ground.
a body of troops was observed moving down the hill on the east bank of Wilson's
Creek toward Lyon's left, and an attack by other troops from that direction
was anticipated. Schofield deployed eight companies of the 1st Iowa and led
them in person to repel this. They did so most gallantly after a saguinary
contest, effectually assisted by the fire from Dubois' battery, which alone
drove back the column on the opposite side of the stream before it began
was placed on the left of our line and ordered to support Captain Dubois
4 gun battery (regulars).
was pretty to see the whole of the battle. As we saw it, with the advantage
of our high positions.