previous next

[500] troops were throwing themselves into the bushes and bye-roads, retreating as well as they could, followed and attacked incessantly by large bodies of Arkansas and Texas cavalry. In this retreat we lost five cannon, of which three were spiked, and the colors of the Third, the color-bearer having been wounded, and his substitute killed. The total loss of the two regiments, the artillery, and the pioneers, in killed, wounded, and missing, amounts to 892 men, as will be seen from the respective lists.

In order to understand clearly our actions and our fate, you will permit me to state the following facts:

First. According to orders, it was the duty of this brigade to attack the enemy in the rear, and to cut off his retreat, which order I tried to execute, whatever the consequences might be.

Second. Tile time of service of the Fifth regiment Missouri Volunteers had expired before the battle. I had induced them, company by company, not to leave us in the most critical moment, and had engaged them for the term of eight days, this term ending on Friday the 9th, the day before the battle.

Third. The Third regiment, of which 400 three months men had been dismissed, was composed for the greater part of recruits, who had not seen the enemy before, and were imperfectly drilled.

Fourth. The men serving the pieces, and the drivers, consisted of infantry, taken from the Third regiment, and were mostly recruits, who had only a few days' instruction.

Fifth. About two-thirds of our officers had left us; some companies had no officers at all — a great pity — but the consequence of the system of the three months service.

After the arrival of the army at Springfield, the command was intrusted to me by Major Sturgis, and the majority of the commanders of regiments. Considering all the circumstances, and in accordance with the desires of the commanding officers, I ordered the retreat of the army from Springfield. The preparations were begun in the night of the 10th, and at daybreak the troops were on the march toward the Gasconade. Before crossing the river I received information that the ford could not be passed well, and that a strong force of the enemy was moving from the south (West Plains) toward Waynesville, to cut off our retreat. I also was aware that it would take considerable time to cross the Robidoux, and the Little and Big Piney, on the old road.

To avoid all these difficulties, and to give the army an opportunity to rest, I directed the troops from Lebanon to the northern road, passing Right Point and Humboldt, and terminating opposite the mouth of Little Piney, where, in case of the ford being unpassable, the train could be sent by Vienna and Lynch to the mouth of the Gasconade, whilst the troops could ford the river at the mouth of the Little Piney to reinforce Rolla. To bring over the artillery, I ordered the ferry-boat from Big Piney Crossing to be hauled down on the Gasconade to the mouth of the Little Piney, where it arrived immediately after we had crossed the ford. Before we had reached the ford, Major Sturgis assumed the command of the army. I therefore respectfully refer to his report in regard to the main body of the troops engaged in the battle.

With the greatest respect, your most obedient servant,

F. Siegel, Commanding Second Brigade Mo. Volunteers.

Lt.-Colonel Merritt's report.

J. M. Schofield, Acting Adjutant-General:--
dear sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Iowa troops in the late hotly contested battle of “Wilson's Creek.”

At 6 o'clock P. M., of the 9th inst., the First regiment of Iowa Volunteers, under command of Lieut.-Col. Wm. H. Merritt, Col. J. F. Bates being sick, united with the forces at Springfield, under command of Gen. Lyon, and commenced the march to Wilson's Creek, twelve miles distant. Arriving within three miles of the enemy's camp and in close proximity to their pickets, the order was given to halt. The troops lay on their arms until 3 o'clock A. M. of the 10th inst., when they advanced on the enemy's lines. About 5 o'clock A. M. our advanced skirmishers engaged the enemy's pickets and drove them in. The First Missouri and First Kansas Volunteers, and a battalion of regular infantry under command of Captain Plummer, with Totten's battery, very soon engaged a considerable number of the rebel forces.

Dubois' battery took position a short distance east of where the enemy were being engaged, and the Iowa troops were drawn up in line of battle on its left. A brisk fire was commenced and kept up for thirty minutes. The enemy responded promptly with a battery in the ravine, but their shot passed from ten to one hundred feet over our heads. Detailed Company D, First-Lieut. Keller commanding, and Company E, First-Lieut. Abercrombie commanding, to act as skirmishers in advance of my line. Ordered to advance over the hill, engage the enemy, and relieve the First regiment of Kansas Volunteers. In advancing to engage the enemy, met the First Kansas retreating in confusion. They broke through our line on the right, separating companies A and F from the balance of the command. While in this confused state received a murderous fire from the enemy's infantry. Gave the command to fall back and re-form the line. The din of firearms and the loud talking of the retreating troops drowned my voice, so that the command could not be heard on the left. Led the two Companies, A and F, over the hill, halted them and ordered them to about face and fire on a squadron of the enemy's cavalry advancing to charge on a section of Totten's battery. The fire was executed with promptness and effect,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
James Totten (2)
S. D. Sturgis (2)
William H. Merritt (2)
Franz Siegel (1)
J. M. Schofield (1)
Plummer (1)
Nathaniel Lyon (1)
Lynch (1)
A. Keller (1)
John V. DuBois (1)
J. F. Bates (1)
Abercrombie (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
10th (2)
9th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: