Today in History:

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


day to make an attack upon what appeared to be the enemy's position, and hence our troops bivouacked for the night.

It had now become apparent that the enemy was only seeking to amuse us by demonstrations upon our front and flanks while he could retire to a strong position and reenforce by the columns that had been moving towards Springfield by the other routes, and which were making forced marches to join him. The general therefore called a council of the principal officers of his command, and laid before them the question whether we should advance or retreat, explained at some length the possible and probable consequences of either course, and asked the opinion of each officer present. The question was discussed at considerable length and opinions freely given. While all appeared to be willing, and most, if not all, anxious, to risk a pitched battle, if one could be brought on before our supplies were exhausted and our men so far weakened as to leave no chance of success, it was the unanimous opinion of all present that under the existing circumstanced there was nothing left us but to retire. The roader to retire was therefore given, and on the afternoon of the 6th the main body encamped about Springfield, while about 2,000 regulars and volunteers, under Major Sturgis and Lieutenant-Colonel Andrews, remained 4 miles from the town.

The enemy did not make his appearance during our retreat, but the next day after our arrival at Springfield, his advance guard encamped at Wilson's Creek. An attack upon this advance force was planned for the night after its arrival at Wilson's Creek, and orders were issued for the advance of a portion of the force under Major Sturgis and Lieutenant-Colonel Andrews; but owing to the lateness of the hour when our spies returned with the necessary information, and other adverse circumstances, the plan was abandoned, and the commands of Major Sturgis and Lieutenant-Colonel Andrews took position in the line of defense about Springfield the next day.

Strong advanced paries of the enemy moved forward during the day, and were engaged by our cavalry scouts. An attack was hourly excepted, and our troops were kept upon their during the day. Frequent alarms from country people and Home Guards, who came rushing into town and reporting the advance of the enemy, served to worry fatigue the troops, and deprive them of the rest which was absolutely necessary to fit them for battle after their fatiguing march. At length, about the middle of the day, a report from one of our scouting parties showed the enemy advancing, with a considerable force of infantry and two pieces of artillery, on the Little York road, and a force of regulars and Kansas volunteers, with two pieces of artillery from Colonel Sigel's brigade, was sent out to meet them. The report proved in the main false, the small force of the enemy fled, and our troops returned without meeting it, having made a rapid march of 9 miles.

General Lyon then determined to make a night march with his entire force down the cassville road, upon the front of the enemy's position, and attack him at dawn in the morning. The chief officers of his command were called together to receive instructions relative to the order of march and plan of attack. Many of the officers were so strongly of the opinion that the execution of the plan was impossible, on account of the exhausted condition of a large portion of the troops, that the plan was abandoned, and the evening and next day spent in recruiting the strength of the men, supplying them with shoes had recently arrived from Rolla, and in making all possible preparations for battle.

Meanwhile our scouts were kept well out towards the enemy's position,