Flag Meaning
Union Forces

Oak Hill Rages On


7:15 am

Union Deadlocked on Oak Hill Disorganized MSG Troops begin to falter

One Who Was There

Then 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 Kansas Troops

This 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.


Major 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!"


The First 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.


...advanced 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 number,...


General 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.

Lt Edward Lines

Acting Adjutant to

Col Mitchell

2nd Kansas Inf

photo courtesy of 2nd Kansas Cavalry

Mitchell       (at Lt Edward Lines funeral in 1867)

His sword was struck, and severely marked by three rifle balls, his saddle was raked by canister shot, two horses...were shot under him


General Price rode an old looking, gray horse, wore a white slouch hat, duster and looked like an old farmer.


...I 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.

Capt Frederick Steele

US Regulars

photo courtesy of "General Officers of the Civil War"


On the 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 artillery.


Once 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,...


Our men as a whole would rise enough to discharge their weapons and then lie down while loading up.


We had a "bushwhack" fight - regiment after regiment, advancing and retreating...


..., 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 around me.


David 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.

Pvt Clem McCulloch

Pvt William Buford

3rd Ark Infantry

photo courtesy of "Portraits of Conflict - a Photographic History of Arkansas in the Civil War" by Bobby Roberts and Carl Moneyhon Univ of Arkansas Press 1987

Pvt Clem McCulloch

I 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

....An 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)


In a 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.


I ran 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.


We were 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."


Gum was 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."


...unarmed 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,...

Gen James McBride


photo courtesy of "Missouri SCV"


Some 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.


...In front of us, appeared, advancing in the meadow, a body of men that we estimated at about one thousand.

Pvt Henry Cheavens

Gen Clark's Division

Missouri State Guard

courtesy Missouri Historical Society and Virginia Easley, gr granddaughter


Clark's, 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.


The infantry 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.


Before 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....

Capt Samuel Crawford

Co E

2nd Kansas Infantry

photo courtesy of Kansas State Historical Society Topeka, Kansas


The sound 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.


Our first volley was delivered at forty yards. At this distance a musket or shotgun carrying a "handful" of bullets was a terrible weapon.


As Price's 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.


There 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 other.


....Robert 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!"


The four 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 the battle...


...Young 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.

Private Thomas Duvall

Lt William Duvall


photo courtesy Dr Thomas Sweeney


Another 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....


...I 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 sharpshooter.


At times we would drive them up the hill, and in turn they would rally and cause us to fall back.


On either 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.


The other 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.

Col George Dietzler


1st Kansas Infantry

photo courtesy of "Borderland Rebellion" by Elmo Ingenthron

Writer from Iowa 8-22-61

I saw 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.


Early 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.


Meantime 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 a crossing.


My battalion was placed on the left of our line and ordered to support Captain Dubois 4 gun battery (regulars).


Oh it was pretty to see the whole of the battle. As we saw it, with the advantage of our high positions.

 MO    KS    IA    

 MO     AR    LA    TX  

Return to Index To Next Page

Copyright © 2000-2010 David Long

All Rights Reserved