The battle of Oak hill
--The official reports of the Federal
officers of the battle near Springfield, Mo.
, are colored to suit the taste of the Northern
We append an extract from the report of Major Sturgis
, who took command after the death of Gen. Lyon
It will be seen that he admits a loss of 1,235 (probably much below the truth,) while he magnified our loss of 265 killed, 800 wounded and 30 missing, into a loss of 3,000! Maj. Sturgis
After the death of Gen. Lyon
, when the enemy fled and left the field clear, so far as we could see, almost total silence reigned for a space of twenty minutes. Major Schofield
now informed me of the death of Gen. Lyon
, and reported for orders.
The responsibility which now rested upon me was duly felt and appreciated.
Our brave little army was scattered and broken; over 20,000 men were still in our front, and our men had had no water since 5 o'clock the evening before, and could hope for none short of Springfield
, twelve miles distant; if we should go forward, our own success would prove our certain defeat in the end; if we retreated, disaster stared us in the face; our ammunition was well nigh exhausted, and should the enemy make this discovery through a slackening of our fire, total annihilation was all that we could expect.
The great question in my mind was, ‘"Where is Siegel
?" ’ If I could still hope for a vigorous attack by him on the enemy's right flank or rear, then we could go forward with some hope of success.
If we had retreated, there was nothing left for us also.
In this perplexing condition of affairs I summoned the principal officers for consultation.
The great question with most of them was, ‘"Is retreat possible?"’
The consultation was brought to a close by the advance of a heavy column of infantry, advancing from the hill where Siegel
's guns had been heard before.
Thinking they were Siegel
's men, the line was formed for an advance, with the hope of forming a junction with him. These troops wore a dress much resembling that of Siegel
's brigade, and carried the American
They were therefore permitted to move down the hill within easy range of Dubois
' battery, until they had reached the covered position at the foot of the ridge on which we were posted, and from which we had been fiercely assailed before, when suddenly a battery was planted on the hill in our front, and began to pour upon us shrapnel and canister — a species of shot not before fired by the enemy.
At this moment the enemy showed his true colors, and at once commenced along our entire lines the fiercest and most bloody engagement of the day Lieut. Dubois
' battery on our left, gallantly supported by Major Osterhaus
' battalion and the rallied fragments of the Missouri First, soon silenced the enemy's battery on the hill, and repulsed the right wing of his infantry.
's battery in the centre, supported by the Iowa
sand regulars, was the main point of attack.
The enemy could frequently be seen within twenty feet of Totten
's guns, and the smoke of the opposing lines was often so confounded as to seem but one.
Now, for the first time during the day, our entire line maintained its position with perfect firmness.
Not the slightest disposition to give way was manifested at any point, and while Capt. Steele
's battalion, which was some yards in front of the line, together with the troops on the right and left, were in imminent danger of being overwhelmed by superior numbers, the contending lines being almost muzzle to muzzle, Capt. Granger
rushed to the rear and brought up the supports of Dubois
' battery, consisting of two or three companies of the First Missouri, three companies of the First Kansas, and two companies of the First Iowa, in quick time, and fell upon the enemy's right flank, and poured into it a murderous volley, killing or wounding every man within sixty or seventy yards. From this moment a perfect rout took place throughout the rebel front., while ours on the right flank continued to pour a galling fire into their disorganized masses.
It was then evident that Totten
's battery and Steele
's little battalion were safe.
The enemy then fled from the field.
A few moments before the close of the engagement, the Second Kansas, which had firmly maintained its position on the extreme right from the time it was first sent there, found its ammunition exhausted, and I directed it to withdraw slowly and in good order from the field, which it did, bringing off its wounded, which left our right flank exposed, and the enemy renewed the attack at that point, after it had ceased along the whole line; but it was gallantly met by Capt. Steele
's battalion of regulars, which had just driven the enemy from the right of the centre, and, after a sharp engagement, drove him precipitately from the field.
Thus closed — at about 11 ½ 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 centre.
After making short halt on the prairie, we continued our march to Springfield
Our total loss in killed, wounded and missing, amounts to 1,235--that of the enemy will probably reach 3,000.