Today in History:

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


of infantry occupying a corn field in the valley in his front. At this moment an artillery fire was opened from a high point about 2 miles nearly in our front, from which Colonel Sigel was to have commenced his attack. This fire was answered form the opposite side of the valley, and at a little greater distance from us, the line of fire of the two batteries being nearly perpendicular to our own. After about ten or twelve shots on either side the firing ceased, and we neither heard nor saw anything more of Colonel Sigel's brigade till about 8.30 o'clock, when a brisk cannonading was heard for a few minutes about a mile to our right of that heard before, and from 2 to 3 miles distant. This was the last during the battle.

Our whole line now advanced with much energy upon the enemy's position, the firing which had been spirited for the last half hour, now increasing to a continuous roar. During this time Captain Totten's battery came into action by section and by piece, as the nature of the ground would permit (it being wooded with much undergrowth), and played upon the enemy's lines with great effect. After a fierce engagement, lasting perhaps half an hour, and in which our troops retired two or three times in more or less of disorder, but never more than a few yards, again to rally and press forward with increased vigor, the enemy gave way in the utmost confusion, and left us in possession of the position.

Meanwhile Captain Lummer was ordered to move forward on our left, but meeting with overpowering resistance from the large mass of infantry in the corn field in his front and in the woods beyond, was compelled to fall back; but at this moment Lieutenant Du Bois' battery, which had taken position on our eft flank, supported by Major Osterhaus' battalion, opened upon the enemy in the corn field a fire of shells with such marked effect as to drive him in the utmost disorder from the field.

There was now a momentary cessation of fire along nearly the whole line, except the extreme right, where the First Missouri was still hotly engaged with a superior force of the enemy attempting to turn our right. The general having been informed of this movement sent the Second Kansas Regiment to the support of the First Missouri. It came up in time to prevent the Missourians from being destroyed by the overwhelming force against which they were unflinchingly holding their position.

The battalion of regular infantry, under Captain Steele, which had been detailed to the support of Lieutenant Du Bois' battery, was during this time brought forward to the support of Captain Totten's battery. Scarcely had these dispositions been when the enemy again appeared in very large force along our entire front and moving towards each flank. The engagement at once became general, and almost inconceivably fierce, along the entire line, the enemy appearing in front often in three or four ranks, lying down, kneeling and standing, the lines often approaching to within 30 or 40 yards, as the enemy would charge upon Captain Totten's battery and be driven back. Early in this engagement the First Iowa Regiment came into line, and relieved the First Kansas, which had been thrown into some disorder and compelled to retire.

Every available battalion was now brought into action, and the battle raged with unabated fury for more than an hour, the scale seeming all the time nearly equally balanced, out troops something gaining a little ground and again giving way a few yards to rally again.

Early in this engagement, while General Lyon was leading his horse