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[496] left and front, on the opposite side of Wilson's Creek, to sweep the entire plateau upon which our troops were formed.

The enemy now rallied in large force near the foot of the slope, and under considerable cover, opposite our left wing, and along the slope in front and on our right toward the crest of the main ridge running parallel to the creek. During this time, Capt. Plummer, with his four companies of infantry, had moved down a ridge about 500 yards to our left, and separated from us by a deep ravine, and reached its abrupt terminus, where he found his further progress arrested by a large force of infantry occupying a corn-field in the valley in his front. At this moment an artillery fire was opened from a high point about two miles distant, and nearly in our front, from which Col. Siegel was to have commenced his attack. This fire was answered from the opposite side of the valley, and at a greater distance from us; the line of fire of the two batteries being nearly perpendicular to our own. After about ten or twelve shots on either side, the firing ceased, and we neither heard nor saw any thing more of Gen. Siegel's brigade until about 8 1/2 o'clock, when a brisk cannonading was heard for a few minutes, about a mile to the right of that heard before, and from two to three miles distant.

Our whole line now advanced with much energy upon the enemy's position. The firing, which had been spirited for the last half hour, now increased to a continuous roar. During this time Capt. Totten's battery came into action by section and by piece, as the nature of the ground would permit, (it being wooded, with much undergrowth,) and played upon the enemy's lines with great effect. After a fierce engagement, lasting perhaps half an hour, and in which our troops retired two or three times in more or less disorder, but never more than a few yards, again to rally and press forward with increased vigor, the enemy gave way in the utmost confusion, and left us in possession of the position.

Meanwhile, Capt. Plummer was ordered to move forward on our left, but meeting with overpowering resistance from the large mass of infantry in the corn-field in his front, and in the woods beyond, was compelled to fall back; but at this moment Lieut. Dubois' battery, which had taken position on our left flank, supported by Capt. Steele's battalion, opened upon the enemy in the corn-field a fire of shells, with such marked effect, as to drive him, in the utmost disorder, and with great slaughter, from the field.

There was now a momentary cessation of fire along nearly the whole line, except the extreme right, where the First Missouri was still engaged with a superior force of the enemy, attempting to turn our right. The General having been informed of this movement, sent the Second Kansas to the support of the First Missouri. It came up in time to prevent the Missourians from being destroyed by the overwhelming force against which they were unflinchingly holding their position.

The battalion of regular infantry under Capt. Steele, which had been detailed to the support of Lieut. Dubois' battery, was during this time brought forward to the support of Capt. Totten's battery. Scarcely had these dispositions been made, when the enemy again appeared in very large force along our entire front, and moving toward each flank. The engagement at once became general, and almost inconceivably fierce, along the entire line; the enemy appearing in front often in three or four ranks, lying down, kneeling, and standing, the lines often approaching to within thirty or forty yards of each other, as the enemy would charge upon Capt. Totten's battery, and be driven back.

Early in the engagement, the 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 enemy.

Every available battalion was now brought into action, and the battle raged with unabated fury for more than an hour, the scales seeming all the time nearly equally balanced, our troops sometimes gaining a little ground, and again giving way a few yards to rally again. Early in this engagement, while Gen. Lyon was leading his horse along the line on the left of Capt. 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.” 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.

In the mean time the General mounted, and, swinging his hat in the air, called to the troops nearest him to follow. The Second Kansas gallantly rallied around him, headed by the brave Col. Mitchell. In a few moments the Colonel fell, severely wounded; about the same time a fatal ball was lodged in the General's breast, and he was carried from the field — a corpse. Thus gloriously fell as brave a soldier as ever drew a sword — a man whose honesty of purpose was proverbial — a noble patriot, and one who held his life as nothing when his country demanded it of him.

Of this dire calamity I was not informed until perhaps half an hour after its occurrence. In the mean time our disordered line on the left was again rallied, and pressed the enemy with great vigor and coolness, particularly the First Iowa regiment, which fought like veterans. This hot encounter lasted perhaps half an hour.

After the death of Gen. Lyon, when the enemy fled and left the field clear, so far as we

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James Totten (4)
Frederick K. Steele (2)
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John V. DuBois (2)
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