upon the Rebels
in front, while Sigel
, with his 1,200 men and 6 guns, almost simultaneously, assailed the rear of the enemy's right.
The battle was obstinate and bloody; but the disparity of numbers was too great, and the division of forces proved, therefore, a mistake.
The Rebels, at first surprised by Sigel
's unexpected attack, and most gallantly charged by him, gave way before him; and he soon secured a commanding position for his artillery.
But the weakness of his force was now manifest; and he was deceived by the advance of a Rebel regiment, which was mistaken by his men for Lyon
's victorious vanguard, and thus came close to them unopposed.
At a signal, Sigel
was assailed by two batteries and a strong column of infantry, and instantly thrown into confusion.
The enemy's fire was so hot that our cannoneers were driven by it from their pieces, the horses killed, and five guns captured.
Our infantry fell back in confusion, followed and assailed by large bodies of Rebel cavalry.
's 1,200, less than 400 were present at the next roll-call.
One of his regiments, 400 strong, under Col. Salomon
, was composed of three-months' men, who had already overstaid their term of enlistment, and who had reluctantly consented to take part in this battle; but who, when charged by an overwhelming Rebel force, were suddenly seized with a fit of home-sickness, and fled in all directions.
Meantime, our front or main advance, under Gen. Lyon
, had waked up the great body of the Rebels
; Capt. Totten
's and Lieut. Dubois
's batteries opening upon their immense masses with great vigor and decided effect.
Very soon, the infantry on both sides were brought into action; and the 1st Missouri, 1st and 2d Kansas, and 1st Iowa regiments, with Steele
's battalion of regulars, won immortal honor by the persistent and heroic gallantry with which they for hours maintained their ground against immense odds.
The Rebels were repeatedly driven back in confusion, and the firing would be nearly or quite suspended for ten to twenty minutes; when, perceiving their decided superiority in numbers, since the rout and flight of Sigel
's command, the Confederate
officers would rally their men and bring them once more to the charge.
Meantime, Gen. Lyon
, who had led out his little army to fight against his own judgment, upon the representation of Gen. Sweeny
, that to abandon all south-west Missouri
without a battle would be worse than a defeat, and who had evinced the most reckless bravery throughout, had been twice wounded, and had had his horse killed under him. The second ball struck him in the head, and seemed for the moment to confuse him. He walked a few paces to the rear, saying to Maj. Schofield
, his Adjutant, “I fear the day is lost ;” to which Schofield
responded, “No, General; let us try them once more.”
offered him his own horse, which Lyon
at first declined, but soon after mounted, and, bleeding from his two wounds, swung his hat in the air, and called upon the troops nearest him to prepare for a bayonet-charge on the lines of the enemy.
The 2d Kansas rallied around him, but in a moment its brave Col. Mitchell
fell severely wounded, and his soldiers cried out: “We are ready to follow — who will lead us?”
will lead you!”