Today in History:

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


About 6 o'clock in the evening on the 4th of July I received intelligence from my quartermaster, Colonel Monroe, whom I had sent forward with an escort of 95 men to take possession of the mills near Carthage, that the enemy were in strong force in that vicinity, and the colonel demanded of me immediate relief. I ordered my division to halt for refreshment at Camp Slack. By 10 o'clock that night my wagons were reloaded with all the camp equipage, the animals hitched up, and my division under arms, ready for an immediate movement on Carthage, of which I had the honor of informing your excellency at the time. In a very short time thereafter I received an order from you to order my division into quarters and remain in camp during the night. Early on the next morning I received orders from your excellency to march my division in the rear of the army, which position I took immediately, Generals Rains', Slack's, and Clark's divisions marching in my front in the direction of Carthage, which was about 12 miles distant. About 10 o'clock a. m. I received your dispatch, stating that the enemy were forming for battle in our front. I put my column in rapid motion, and upon arriving within about a mile and half of the creek called Bear Creek, I discovered that the advance divisions of Generals Rains and Slack had formed in line of battle. At this time I did not know the position nor the strength of the enemy, but hurrying up my battery, consisting of our brass sixes, on arrival to the left of Colonel Weightman's battery I discovered the enemy formed for attack at the distance of 1,000 yards, and in numbers apparently 2,500 or 3,000, formed in the following order: one regiment to the right of the road, one to the left, supporting in the first instance seven pieces of artillery, with their third regiment in reserve 100 yards in the rear.

Advancing my batteries to the front and to the left of Colonel Weightman's, forming my infantry, under Colonel Kelly and Major Dills, to the left of my artillery, General Clark's division coming rapidly into line upon the left of my infantry, my cavalry, under Colonel Brown, Captain Alexander, and Captain Crews, I ordered to take position on the extreme left of General Clark's line.

Having made this disposition of my forces, being so cordially and promptly co-operated with by General Clark, I rode up to my battery and ordered Captain Guibor, its commandant, to open fire, which was done instanter. The enemy's batteries immediately responded, Colonel Weightman's battery returning the fire as promptly. Without any material change of position, the batteries continued their conflict for about twenty minutes to the great disadvantage of the enemy; but not wishing to have my infantry any longer exposed to the enemy's batteries, I determined to harass them with the cavalry, so as to draw their fire, at the same time sending a body of mounted riflemen to Bear Creek for the purpose of cutting the enemy's rear and to got possession of the crossing in that direction. I ordered Colonel Brown's regiment of cavalry to make a demonstration on the enemy's right flank, at the same time leaving orders with my adjutant, Colonel Standish, for Colonel Kelly, that so soon as I could make any efficient movement with the cavalry, to advance my whole line.

Colonel Brown advanced with his cavalry upon the enemy's right flank, which coursed him to change the position of his right, as well of infantry as of artillery. Two pieces of artillery were at this time diverted from my infantry, and directed exclusively upon my cavalry. Seeing that there was a prospect of surrounding the enemy, I ordered the whole of my cavalry, Colonel Brown commanding, to Bear Creek, to occupy the timber at the crossing, and, if possible, prevent their