a lull in the action, by General Pearce's order, the battery was limbered
up and moved to more elevated ground some one hundred yards to the right
and rear of the first position.
was for a short time a dead silence in both armies, except the low tone of
command given by the officers in each line, which was distinctly heard by
the men opposite.
this lull the enemy appeared to be reorganizing, and Lyon concentrated his
own forces into a more compact form on the crest of the ridge.
Missouri now took its position in front, upon the crest of a small elevated
plateau. The First Kansas was posted on the left of the First Missouri, and
separated from it some 60 yards on a account of a ravine. The First Iowa
took its position on the left of the First Kansas while Totten's battery
was placed opposite the interval between the First Kansas and First Missouri.
Major Osterhaus' battalion occupied the extreme right,...
2nd Kansas was held in reserve just in the rear of the Bald Knob...
had these dispositions been made when the enemy again appeared in very large
force along our entire front and moving towards each flank.
was finally broken by the enemy giving the order to move forward; I heard
the word given distinctly.
Blue and Gray
after eight o'clock a great commotion was heard in front-the loud voices
of command and the crackling of branches. "Here they are again!" "Here they
come!" rang out from rank to rank,....
One Who Was There
Chenoweth commands the six companies on the right of the first; the four
on the left seem without a leader.... Capt. Totten asks anxiously, "Who commands
this division?" No one responds, and he repeats the question. Still no answer;
and passing in front of the division, he asks: "Men, will you support this
battery?" There is a shout of assent, but hardly has the echo died away,
when "This battery" opens on the advancing columns of the foe.
forty minutes they moved to attack us, slowly at first, but faster as they
came nearer, they halted to fire on us. But they were too far away for us
to do them any damage. We sheltered ourselves behind the rim of the hill
and very little damage was done.
moment our whole line advanced upon the enemy, when another general and bloody
to Weekly Democrat
pause is of short duration and the fight is resumed by the First Kansas and
Osterhaus and Capt. Steele's battalions....Gen Lyon follows just in the rear
of the right wing, far to the right, accompanied by myself and three orderlies.
As we descend the hill we observe a regiment of Confederates drawn up in
line on our right and facing the right flank of the Iowans....
called General Lyons attention to the line, he stopped and rode toward them.
Three officers advanced, and asked who we were.
courtesy of "Borderland Rebellion" by Elmo Ingenthron
of horsemen came out in front of this line of the enemy and proceeded to
reconnoiter. General Price and Major Emmett MacDonald (who had sworn that
he would not cut his hair till the Confederacy was acknowledged) were easily
recognized. General Lyon started as if to confront them, ordering his party
to "Draw pistols and follow" him, when the aide protested against his exposing
himself to the fire of the line, which was partly concealed by the mass of
dense underbrush, and asked if he should not bring up some other troops.
To this Lyon assented....
Colonel Burbridge had dressed his line, general clark rode down the line
and ordered us to hold our fire until we could see the whites of their eyes,
then to aim at their belt buckles. The federals had turned over the crest
of the hill from us, and we could hear the officers' commands while dressing
their line. In a few minutes they came over the hilltop at quick time. When
they had gotten about half way from the top of the hill to the brush, they
were then in plain view of Guibor's Battery on our right and McBride's rifles
on our left. A simultaneous fire from our rifles, Guibor's Battery, and McBride's
men mowed down so many of them that they scampered back over the hilltop.
As soon as we reloaded our guns General Clark ordered us to charge them.
We charged to the top of the hill, where we could plainly seem them formed
ready to receive us, both front and reserve lines. We exchanged shots with
them, then fell back to our friendly brush to reload, with the Feds in hot
back to where our regiment, the 1st Kansas, was lying in reserve. He ordered
the regiment immediately forward, marching us up the rear of the hill in
the rear of Totten's and DuBois' Batteries, thence to the right to the brow
of the hill...
One Who Was There
right of the First laying close down to the ground, and partly hidden by
the brushwood. Col. Blair, of the Second, is watching closely their advance,
and as the long line of grey emerges over the brow of the hill, he shouts
his order - "Attention, battalion - fire low," ending off with an expletive
more forcible than polite. A sheet of fire ran along the line; again the
batteries belch forth their heavy thunder, and the rattle of small arms becomes
incessant and terrible.
Writer from Iowa
had the brave fellows formed a line of battle, when a most terrific fire
was opened upon them by a larger force of Rebels concealed in the brush not
over ten rods in front of them. Col. Dietzler immediately ordered his men...to
lie down and wait until they could see the rascals, then take good aim and
"Fire low, and give them hell."
underbrush was so thick that a line of troops came up within twenty yards
of my guns before I saw them, and nearly carried my guns. This only lasted
twenty minutes, but it was very bloody.
New York Tribune
latter (H,I,K) were afterward placed in ambush by Capt. Granger of the Regulars.
Lying down close to the brow of the hill, they waited for another attempt
of the enemy to retake their position. On they came in overwhelming numbers.
Not a breath was heard among the Iowans till their enemy came within thirty-five
or forty feet, when they poured the contents of their minie muskets into
the enemy, and routed them, though suffering terribly themselves at the same
time. Two Kansas companies afterward did the same thing on the eastern slope,
and repulsed a vigorous attack of the enemy.
Francis M Cockrell
Brig Gen CSA
courtesy of Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
marched four abreast up to within fifty or seventy-five yards of the enemy's
line unseen, in consequence of the Federal line being on the center of the
ridge, and on the side of the ridge there was an offset with brush along
it which enabled us to march that close without detection. We then turned
to the right....as soon as we could get to the front, and I do not think
we were over forty steps from the enemy, I heard his voice ordering 'Charge!'...I
repeated it, and our three companies rushed up and got very nearly on the
same ground on which the enemy had been standing...One of my men was shot
dead and fell by the side of a Federal soldier.
kept coming toward us, firing as they came. When they got within range of
our guns, we jumped to the top of the hill and took a hand ourselves....
One Who Was There
right, the rattle of musketry is growing fierce.... Nearer and nearer comes
the storm, and then again the contest rages all along the line. On our right,
the hardy second....To the left are the brave Iowans, moving with a firm
and steady tread to the front.
infantry, under Capt. Steele, which had been detailed to the support of
Lieutenant DuBois' battery, was during this time brought forward to the support
of Captain Totten's Battery.
Battery was the center and key to the enemy's line, ....This was a strong
position, and it was up this hill and against these Regulars that we were
sent.....We got up rather close to Totten's battery, when a perfect storm
of shot from the Regulars met us, and for a moment it looked like the whole
regiment was either killed or wounded. We were stunned and staggered, and
fell back. We went up a second time, with the same result, only this time
we were firing at will....The infantry supporting the battery advanced when
we fell back....
our men to be ready, to take good aim, and not waste a shot. My order was
obeyed in a most handsome and gallant style. The enemy reeled, tottered,
and fell from one end of the line to the other.
9 o'clock Colonel Burbridge received a severe minie-ball wound on the head,
which momentarily stunned him. As he fell from his horse he was caught by
David H. Stewart and George A. Mudd, who carried him to the field hospital.
Almost as he fell he gave, in a quick, ringing tone, the command: "Missourians,
never run!" A moment later he ordered Major Clark to "Lead the men nearer
the enemy, and pay no regard to me." Five minutes after Stewart and Mudd
returned to the line the former was struck by a minie-ball, which passed
through his body from side to side, injuring in its course one of the lumbar
vertebra...Ten minutes after Mudd returned from bearing stewart to the rear,
a shot plowed through the brachial muscle of his left arm.
Kansas First occupied this ground for over two hours...were ordered to charge
the enemy...driving the enemy...and returning to the main force, when threatened
by a flank movement, at their own imminent peril, and with considerable loss
of life. While leading this charge, Col. Deitzler had his horse shot under
him and was himself severely wounded.
courtesy of "General Officers of the Civil War"
Col. Deitzler led the charge down the hill after discovering that a large
force of the enemy was closing into the right and left in an effort to surround
his little force, he ordered a retreat. Amid the noise and confusion of the
constant firing of musketry and roaring of artillery, the order was not heard
by Capt. Clayton, who continued to advance until he came to the brow of the
hill, where he discovered a regiment of men whom he supposed from their uniform
to be Sigel's regiment, advancing toward him at right angles. Their Colonel
asked the Captain where the enemy were. He replied by pointing in the direction
of the retreating Rebel forces and immediately commenced aligning his company
a point the right of the regiment. All at once Capt. Clayton mistrusted that
he was in a trap, and looking towards the Colonel he recognized in him an
old acquaintance, being no less than Col. Clarkson, of Kansas border ruffian
notoriety, ex Postmaster of Leavenworth city. The captain then gave the command,
"Right oblique, march." When he had moved his company a distance of about
thirty paces await from the enemy's line, the Adjutant of the Rebel regiment
rode rapidly towards him, and commanded him to halt.- He did so, and immediately
brought his company to an "About face", fronting the enemy's line. The Adjutant
asked, "What troops are these?" "I belong to the First Kansas Regiment,"
replied the captain; "Who are you?" "I am adjutant of the Fifth Missouri
Volunteers." "What, Confederate or United States?" "Confederates." "Then
dismount, g-d d--n you, you're my prisoner." Said the Captain presenting
his pistol. He obeyed, and upon the demand of the Captain, delivered over
his sword. "Now," said the Captain, "Order your men not to fire, or you're
a dead man," and commenced moving back with his company, holding the Adjutant
between himself and the Rebel forces. The Adjutant ordered his men to open
fire, which they did, and the Captain shot the Adjutant with his pistol.
At the same moment a Sergeant of Captain Clayton's company thrust his bayonet
through the body of the Adjutant, pinning him to the ground and leaving his
gun sticking in his body. The Captain then ordered his men to run for their
lives, which they did, forming again immediately upon the brow of the
a family member - the Clarksons were stockmen and farmers; Davy (Col Clarkson's
nephew) farmed near Westport in 1859, but returned home to Dade County when
"Uncle Jim" (Col James Clarkson referred to above) was forced to leave
Leavenworth KS. James Clarkson, a Mexican War veteran, had been commander
of the Kansas Territorial Militia (aka "Kickapoo Rangers"), and spent the
1850s terrorizing Freesoil Kansans at gunpoint. No wonder Dietzler recognized
him on sight! The Dade County history reports his father, David S. Clarkson,
(Davy's father and James' brother) did serve several terms as county judge,
beginning in 1844. The extended Clarkson clan had come out to Missouri from
Pendleton CO. KY in 1841. More
of our line was in front of Totten's Battery, and the fighting was very close
and furious. Many of our men had double-barreled shotguns, and ten men in
the company to which I belonged went into the battle without guns, but it
was not very long before they got them.
Lieutenant Sokalski to move forward with his section immediately, which he
did, and most gallantly, too, relieving and saving the Kansas Regiments from
being overthrown and driven back.
the cannon in position so as to sweep the wooded land in front was a difficult
task, and the horses were aided by the gunners and by details from the
Gen William Slack
courtesy of "General Officers of the Civil War"
point of time General McCulloch came up, and directed Slack's division to
charge Totten's battery in front, and the Arkansas troops on the right. This
was the most terrific storm of grape and musketry ever poured out upon the
ranks of any American troops. On both sides the men were mowed down like
the ripe harvest before the sickle. My own regiment was then decimated, and
Churchill's and McIntosh's Arkansas regiments suffered most severely.
First Iowa came to the support of the First Kansas and First Missouri, both
of which had stood like veteran troops, exposed to a galling fire of the
Clark....when severely wounded in the leg, he mentioned it to those near
him and said it was "Nothing". When he became faint from loss of blood he
told the boys he would have to go to the rear, "But," he added, "I know you
will do your duty." This must have been at least an hour after he was
New York Tribune
Murphy, when they once halted, wavering, stepped several paces forward, waving
his sword in the air, and called successfully upon his men to follow
two men who in their death agony had torn their clothing from their front;...One
had six bullets in his abdomen and chest, and the other had four. Twenty
feet to my right a Federal Captain, an intelligent looking man of about forty
or forty-five years of age, whose visible wound was an ugly one in the lower
jaw, said to the man about to step over him, " For god's sake give me a drink
of water!" "Got none, Bill," (to the man on his left) "got any water?" "No."
"Pass the word down." The word passed us, but every response was "No." We
had our canteens on, but not a drop of water, and we suffered greatly for
want of it that furiously hot day. The word passed down to the right, with
a like result. "Nobody has no water. I've got some whiskey in my canteen;
would you like to have a drink of it?" "If you will be so kind." Raising
the Captain's head with his left hand our man put the canteen to the lips
of his enemy. "Got enough?" - after a generous draught had been taken. "Yes,
heaven bless you." The man gently placed the captain's head upon the ground,
stepped over him, and with us, who had stopped to watch the scene, went on
to renewed murder.
ends this short story by recognizing the paradox of war in a few amazing
harvest of death now commenced. The cannonading was most terrible, and the
slaughter on both sides immense.
Burbridge and Major Clark....whenever we fell back a few yards - which we
did several times when the enemy's fire seemed so fierce that nothing could
live before it - they would indicate a new line for us to stand upon.
of musketry and the roar of artillery were deafening...The weather was so
hot it was like fighting in a furnace.
were reeling and falling like golden grain before the reaper-but it was the
harvest of death!
courtesy William Quantrill and the Lawrence massacre"
from : a Frontier State at War: Kansas, 1861-1865, by Albert Castel.
Cornell up, 1958
enemy appearing in front often in three or four ranks, lying down, kneeling,
and standing, the lines often approaching to within 30 or 40 yards, as the
enemy would charge upon Captain Totten's battery and be driven back.
Rebel infantry, in its charge, worn down to a point, with its apex touched
the twelve-pounder, and one man with his bayonet tried to get the Irish
sergeant,who, fencing with his non-commissioned officer's sword, parried
the thrusts of the bayonet.
fell back and formed again...we could hardly walk for fear of treading on
someone. I found a canteen filled with water, took the strap from my gun
and strapped it to my shoulder,...I gave to several who were wounded...
Confederates, having such vastly superior numbers, brought up fresh troops
repeatedly, and made violent assaults upon our line,...