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Lyon is killed


9:40 am

General Lyon is killed Colonel Weightman falls


At a time when our men were staggering under the effects of a terrific fire, pouring death and dismay in our ranks, Lyon was engaged in preventing increasing desertions from the line by soldiers who had fought bravely until then. While thus engaged, rallying, exhorting, encouraging, his horse was shot dead beside him, and himself wounded in the leg and head.


I saw a Federal officer on a gray horse not far to the right of Totten's Battery. Several of our boys who had Mississippi Rifles, captured from the enemy at neosho, took shots at him.

Spfld Patriot

In this stirring and exciting contest Gen. Lyon was wounded, and had his horse shot from under him; General (then Major) Schofield's horse was killed under him and mine was struck by a spent ball,....


Early in this engagement, while General Lyon was leading his horse along the line on the left of Captain Totten's Battery and endeavoring to rally our troops, which were at this time in considerable disorder, his horse was killed, and he received a wound in the leg and one in the head. He walked slowly a few paces to the rear and said' "I fear the day is lost."


...saw his horse hit....It seemed to sink down as if vitally struck, neither plunging nor reeling....As he left his dead horse and limped along - for he had now been wounded in the leg - he looked stunned and white....


One of them behind a tree, perhaps 50 yards in front of us, after his associates had retired, rose up and deliberately, fired a double-barreled shotgun, both barrels, at us. He injured no one that we knew of, but some one dropped him suddenly, and Seeger of our company ran forward and got his shotgun....a splendid stub-and-twist gun.


....We were turned to the left, up the valley, just behind Price's men, who were strung along the hills to our right, and were firing as fast as they could.

Corp James Walker

2nd Kansas Inf

photo courtesy of Wilson's Creek National Battlefield

Full picture reveals deformed hand from injury sustained at this battle


Our company charged right into the center of the enemy line opposed to us. We drove them back but was unsupported and caused near all of us being killed and taken prisoner.


We kept our men concealed behind the brow of the hill, and delivered our fire only when the enemy attempted to turn the summit.

Writer from Iowa 8-22-61

...but as our men were falling by dozens under the steady fire of the enemy, we retired over the hill,...


(Lyon)walking along his line from left to right encouraging his men by his own intrepid bearing and by a few well-spoken words; rallying them where they were beginning to give way; steadying them where they still stood to their duty; inspiring them with his own brave purpose to make one more effort to win the day,...

Blue and Gray

The general was not in good humor. A bullet had grazed his left temple, which caused the blood to cover his cheek, and another struck his right ankle so near the bone that he could with difficulty make his way on foot. The gray horse which had borne him during the campaign, and had carried his head so proudly in the streets of St. Louis and on the prairies of Missouri, now lay stiff and cold upon the hillside.

(As Lyon was one of the most loved/hated men in Missouri, depending on which side your sympathies laid, his gray horse "Star", killed earlier in the battle, became nearly as famous as he did. The horse had been raised by Frederick Steele from a colt. For years after the battle, soldiers placed signed rocks in a pile in honor of Lyon. Some believe the famous rockpile actually sat where "Old Grey" had fallen when Lyon was first wounded)

McDonald (interview with WF Steele)

...He asked: "Where is Sigel?" As often as Napoleon at the first Waterloo asked, "Where is Grouchy?"


I then dismounted one of my orderlies, and tendered the horse to the General, who at first declined, saying it was not necessary. The horse, however, was left with him, and I moved off to rally a portion of the Iowa Regiment, which was beginning to break in considerable numbers.

Writer from Iowa 8-22-61

...we rallied and were ordered forward a second time....We followed him down the hill to the left of the Kansas First who were still firing away at the rebels, and fired another volley; but as our men were falling by dozens under the steady fire of the enemy, we retired over the hill,...

McDonald (interview with WF Steele)

Just then the Union line gave way and the Kansas men were shouting: "Give us a leader!" General Lyon staggered to his feet...


...The General mounted, and swinging his hat in the air, called to the troops nearest him to follow.

Col Robert Mitchell

2nd Kansas Inf

photo courtesy of "General Officers of the Civil War"


The Second Kansas, or at least a portion of it, gallantly rallied around him, headed by the brave Colonel Mitchell.

"M" under letter by Kansas Troops

As we filed up the steep ascent, we passed numbers of men who had "fought their last battle," and were sleeping their last sleep; and near the battery I saw large pools of blood.

McDonald (interview with WF Steele)

...Lyon rode in front of the Second Kansas, waving his old drab felt hat and shouted "Come on, my bully boys. I will lead you." And he gave the command, "Forward."

Lyon's charge from Frank Leslie's Illustrated History from "Missouri Sketch Book" by Clifton Edom


The enemy, who had undoubtedly observed our fire to slack, attempted a general advance of his line, but was met by our General Lyon, although already wounded, dashing forward at the head of the Kansas infantry. The confederate rally threatened DuBois' battery greatly;...


The regiment was marching in column by two, General Lyon riding on the left of the head of the column and Col. Mitchell to the right. Having arrived at the place where the General intended to form the regiment into line of battle, ordered Col. Mitchell to form the regiment into line.

One Who Was There

"Now, boys, once more for young Kansas and the Old Flag." He did not look familiar then, for the red current flowed from a wound in the head, and the beautiful gray which had served him so well, was gone.

Lyons charge drawn by F. Darley engraved by H.B. Hall, 1862 from "Missouri Sketch Book" by Clifton Edom

(Notice  - the uniform's on Union troops are incorrect)


When the Second was moving by the flank to its new position on the right, General Lyon passed within ten paces of where I was marching at the head of my company, and joined Colonel Mitchell at the head of the regiment. They two were leading straight toward a thicket of underbrush and scattering oak trees, when a volley was fired from the thicket....


Soon firing was heard in our advance the regiments had just time to fire when the enemy rose up in front of us and poured a volley into our ranks which was very well sent as that single volley killing and wounding more men than all the rest of the battle. The second man from me fell mortally wounded. This volley threw us into some confusion but Gen. Lyon riding along just then on a bay horse...with his hat in his hand flourishing it over his head and ordering us to stand up to them and drive them back.


...When within about 75 yards of our line, riding a small grey horse, waving his sword urging on his men, some ragged Missourian with his squirrel rifle drew a shooting match bead on him....


At this moment we saw the enemy draw up about 100 yards ahead of us, who fired immediately a full volley at the head at our column.


His time had come, and a ball from one of the old-fashioned squirrel rifles in the hands of a lanky back-woodsman pierced the breast of the truly brave general and brought to an untimely end the career of one of the most brilliant young officers of the Federal Army.

Lyon's Death by Kurz & Allison, Chicago 1893 from "Missouri Sketch Book" by Clifton C Edom


...A ball penetrated Lyon's left breast, inflicting a mortal wound. He slowly dismounted, and as he fell into the arms of his faithful orderly, Lehmann, he explained, "Lehman, I am killed," and almost immediately expired...


here,...fell the leader of the Republican Invaders, Major-General Lyon, under a fire from the Fifth Infantry.


Col. Mitchell was also wounded severely in the groin.


The same volley struck Captain Tholen's company on the flank and threw it into confusion.


This fire...killed and wounded thirteen members of my company.


The next two companies (Russell's and Mitchell's) also swayed backward for a short distance. My company came next; and I, being farther from the concealed enemy and having more time to steady the men, wheeled the company into line facing the ambuscade and sent a volley into the bushes where the enemy was concealed.


(Mitchell)...as he was carried from the field, he met a member of my staff, and called out, "For God's sake, support my regiment."


My supporting battalion was therefore ordered to charge and by its resolute move checked and drove back the enemy; thereby securing for the battery an advanced position with a more sweeping horizon than it had at first.


When Lyon and I separated, he to lead the attack in which he fell, I reformed the other regiment and led into action, giving the command "Charge!" As soon as we came within plain view of the enemy, hoping to try conclusions with the bayonet, with which we were much better supplied than they. That regiment advanced in splendid style until it received the enemy's fire, then the command "Charge!" was forgotten, and the regiment halted and commenced firing. Thus I found myself "between two fires." But the brave boys in my rear could see me, and I don't believe I was in any danger from their muskets, yet I felt less "Out of place" when I had passed around the flank of a company and stood in rear of the line. I there witnessed, for the only time in my experience, one of those remarkable instances of a man too brave to think of running away, and yet too much frightened to be able to fight. He was loading his musket and firing in the air with great rapidity. When I took hold of his arm and shook him, calling his attention to what he was doing, he seemed as if aroused from a trance, entirely unconscious of what had happened.


...Weightman now filed his column in on the right of my regiment, in Gen. Slack's division, where he fell mortally wounded, near Totten's battery, covered all over the wounds. I received his sword to keep it from the enemy.


The commander of my brigade, Col R. H. Weightman was shot dead almost at my feet, and was picked up by myself and two of my men and laid under a black-jack tree just behind our line. He and General Lyon were killed about seventy-five or one hundred yards apart and where the dead lay thickest.


...Weightman....fell mortally wounded while leading a charge. His sword was handed to me by a friend of his (Colonel Hughes), having received it from him when he fell. My horse just at this time was shot from under me. I hung the sword on a bush to catch another horse that was near by, some one took it off, and we have not yet been able to find it.


...our three companies speedily drove the enemy out of the bushes. We fired over Lyon's body, and three or four of Captain Tholen's men, as they lay wounded.

Capt Stimming

Co H

1st Iowa Infantry

photo courtesy of "Iowa Valor" by Steve Meyer

Eyewitness to Weekly Democrat

Well and nobly did the Second Kansas and Iowa boys follow up these charges, indeed nearly or quite all of our troops were engaged at this period, and the dastardly wretches were again driven before them like chaff...


...General Lyon's body was brought to me through the ranks by his servant Lehman and a party of soldiers, the face uncovered, and Lehman crying and making a great noise.


His body was carried from the field...By Lieut. Shryer, of Co. K, A. Kepler and Ed. Spurlock, of Co. G, Kansas 2d,...


A few minutes later I went toward the right to rejoin my chief, and found his lifeless body a few feet in rear of the line, in charge of his faithful orderly, Lehman, who was mourning bitterly and loudly the death of the great soldier he adored...The fight was then raging in great fury...My only thought was the apprehension that the troops might be injuriously affected if they learned of the death of their commander....I chided poor Lehman for his outcry, and ordered that the body be taken quietly to the rear, and that no one be told of the General's death.

General Nathaniel Lyon became the first Union General killed in the Civil War

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