Today in History:

17 Series I Volume III- Serial 3 - Wilson's Creek


Third Regiment, I ordered to stay in Neosho as garrison, and for the protection of the Union-loving people against bands of secessionists, but to retreat to Sacrocoxie if he should find it necessary. Company H, Captain Indest, was one of the two companies sent to Grand Falls, from which place this company had not returned when the battle commenced.

On the evening of the 4th of July, after a march of 20 miles, the troops went into camp on the southwest of Carthage, behind the Spring River. It was now as much as certain that Jackson's troops, reported 4,000 strong, were about nine miles before us, their scouts swarming over the great plateau to the north of Carthage, and almost within our sight.

The troops under my command on the 5th of July who were engaged in the action of the day were composed as follows: Nine companies of the Third Regiment, with a total effective strength of 550 men; seven companies of the Fifth Regiment, numbering 400 men; two batteries of artillery, four pieces each. With these troops I advanced slowly towards the enemy, our skirmishers driving before them numerous squads of mounted riflemen, who were observing our march. The baggage train followed our troops at a distance of about three miles.

After crossing Dry Fork Creek, 6 miles beyond Carthage, and advancing 3 miles farther, we found the enemy in line of battle on an elevated ground, gradually rising from the creek, and a out one and a half miles distant. Their first line was formed in three regiments, deployed in line, and with proper intervals between them. Two regiments, forming the wings, consisted of cavalry, the center of infantry, the right, and one on the left wing. The whole force within our sight may have numbered 3,500 men, besides a strong reserve in the rear.

As our advance guard was already engaged, I sent two pieces of artillery and two companies of the Third Regiment forward to assist them. One piece of artillery and one company of the Third Regiment of infantry I posted behind the creek, as a guard against movements of the cavalry towards our rear and our baggage. The remainder of our troops I formed in the following order: The second battalion of the Third Regiment, under the command of Major Bischoff, on the left in close column; next to them, four pieces of artillery; in the center, the Fifth Regiment, in two separate battalions, under Colonel Salomon and Lieutenant-Colonel Wolf; on the right, three pieces of artillery, under the command of Captain Essig, and to his right the First Battalion of the Third Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Hassendeubel.

When these dispositions were made, and after we had advanced a few hundred yards, I ordered Major Backof to commence his fire with all the seven pieces against the enemy's lines. The fire was answered promptly. I observed now that the two mounted regiments of the rebel army prepared themselves to turn our right and left. They moved by the flank, and, describing a wide circle, left great intervals between them and the center. I immediately directed the whole fire of our artillery against the right of the enemy's center, so that in a short time the fire of his artillery began to slacken on this point.

I formed now a chain of skirmishers between our pieces, ordered two pieces of Captain Essig's battery from the right to our left wing, and made known to the commanders and troops that it was my intention to gain the heights by advancing with our left and taking position on the right flank of the enemy's center. In this critical moment, Captain Wilkins, commander of one of the two batteries, declared that he was