Today in History:

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


2,000 strong, with eight pieces of artillery, then advancing to attack us. Accordingly I arranged the brigade in order of battle, Colonel Graves on the right, the artillery in the center, and Lieutenant-Colonel O'Kane on the left. At this time Colonel Hurst was 3 miles in the rear with his regiment, which, having marched since 4 o'clock in the morning without breakfast, had, with my authority and of necessity, stopped to prepare a meal. I immediately dispatched a courier to the rear for him, and directed him to come forward at speed and take position on the right of Colonel Graves. You, general, with the remainder and greater portion of your command (composed principally of mounter men), while I was deploying, took position on the extreme right of the Army of Missouri. On the line thus taken by your division the other divisions formed as they successively came on the ground.

The engagement was begun about 8.30 o'clock a. m. by the enemy's artillery, which opened a heavy fire of round shot, shell, spherical case shot, and grape. This was promptly responded to by the artillery of General Parsons's division, four 6-pounders, which had unlimbered in gallant style immediately on the left of my brigade. Captain Bledsoe then opened upon the enemy a steady and well-directed fire, by my direction, aiming at the densest of the enemy's masses, ceasing fire whenever the enemy, driven from their ranks, took refuge in depressions on the plains so as to be out of sight, and reopening upon them as they again showed themselves in masses, notwithstanding the fire from the enemy's artillery was rapid and well directed, and continued for forty minutes. Our loss, owing to the fact that our line presented no depth to them, was small.

At this point Major Murray, of Lieutenant-Colonel O'Kane's battalion, had his horse shot under him by grape shot. The enemy then slowly retired for about 200 yards, halted, and commenced the engagement, when I advanced the whole line of the brigade in battle order, and reopened fire upon him by Captain Bledsoe's guns, General Parsons' artillery having by this time retires, as I learn, for want of ammunition. At this time the cavalry of your division, under your immediate command, was closing on the enemy's left flank, and at the same time a large body of cavalry from some of the other divisions ws threatening his right flank, and the enemy, after cannonading us but a few minutes, again retired under over of the fire of his artillery, passing though the timber which skirted its banks, crossed Bear Crek, one of the tributaries of Spring River, about 1 1/2 miles in rear of their second position.

Up to this time the engagement had been in the open prairie, without shelter for the infantry or artillery of my brigade, who, being immediately in front of the enemy and in his line of attack, received the great severity of his fire. I cannot too much commend to your favorable notice the steadiness, worthy of disciplined troops, displayed by infantry and artillery of the brigade. Before the enemy returned the second time, Colonel Hurst, with his regiment, came forward from the rear at double-quick time, and took the position assigned him on the right of Colonel Graves. I again advanced in battle order the whole line of the brigade.

As I neared the timber, proceeding along the road I discovered the enemy though the openings through which the road passed posted in force on the brow of the hill on the opposite bank of the creek, distant about 400 yards, and only to be seen through the opening. At this exposed point I directed Lieutenant-Colonel Rosser to have the artillery unlimbered and to open fire upon the enemy, and at the same time I directed the infantry on either wing of the brigade to pass into and