o'clock — an almost uninterrupted conflict of six hours. The order to retreat was given soon after the enemy gave way from our front and center, Lieut. Dubois's battery having been previously sent to occupy, with its supports, the hill in our rear.
Capt. Totten's battery, as soon as his disabled horses could be replaced, retired slowly with the main body of the infantry, while Capt. Steele was meeting the demonstrations upon our right flank.
This having been repulsed, and no enemy being in sight, the whole column moved slowly to the high, open prairie, about two miles from the battle-ground; our ambulances, meanwhile, passing to and fro, carrying off our wounded.
After making a short halt on the prairie, we continued our march to Springfield.
It should be her re remembered that, just after the order to retire was given, and while it was undecided whether the retreat should be continued, or whether we should occupy the more favorable position of our rear, and await tidings of Col. Sigel, one of his non-commissioned officers arrived, and reported that the Colonel's brigade had been totally routed, and all his artillery captured, Col. Sigel himself having been either killed or made prisoner.
Most of our men had fired away all their ammunition, and all that could be obtained from the boxes of the killed and wounded.
Nothing, therefore, was left to do but to return to Springfield; where 250 Home Guards, with two pieces of artillery, had been left to take care of the train.
On reaching the Little York road, we met Lieut. Farrand, with his company of dragoons, and a considerable portion of Col. Sigel's command, with one piece of artillery.
At 5 o'clock, P. M., we reached Springfield.
Of course, the Confederates
claimed the result as a success; and with good reason, since they stood on the defensive and held the field, and could show as trophies five of Sigel
's six guns; but there is no pretense, on their part, of having pursued those whom they claimed to have beaten; and McCulloch
's first official report only says of our army, “They have met with a signal repulse
” --which was the truth.
He admits a loss of 265 killed, 800 wounded, and 30 missing. Our official reports make our loss 223 killed, 721 wounded, and 292 missing.1 McCulloch
says: “My effective force was 5,300 infantry, 15 pieces of artillery, and 6,000 horsemen, armed with flint-lock muskets, rifles, and shot-guns.
There were other horsemen with the army, who were entirely unarmed, and, instead of being a help, were continually in the way.”
Lieut. Col. Merritt
, of the 1st Iowa, in his report, says:
The enemy brought to the field 14,000 well-armed and well-disciplined troops, and 10,000 irregular troops; and our own force amounted to about 5,000 troops in the early part of the engagement, and considerably less than 4,000 troops for the concluding four hours of it.
, in his official report of the battle, says:
That 3,700 men, after a fatiguing night-march, attacked the enemy, numbering 23,000, on their own ground, and, after a bloody conflict of six hours, withdrew at their pleasure, is the best eulogium.
I can pass on their conduct that day.2