Today in History:

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


to begin their fire against the camp of the enemy (Missourians), which was of so much effect, that the enemy's troops were seen leaving their tents and retiring in haste towards the northeast of the valley. Meanwhile the Third and Fifth Regiments had quickly advanced, passed the creek, and, traversing the camp, formed almost in the center of it.

As the enemy made his rally in large numbers before us, about 3,000 strong, consisting of infantry and cavalry, I ordered the artillery to be brought forward from the hill, and formed them in battery across the valley, with the Third and Fifth Regiments to the left and the cavalry to the right. After an effective fire of half an hour the enemy retired in some confusion into the woods and up the adjoining hills. The firing towards the northwest was now more distinct, and increased till it was evident that the main corps of General Lyon had engaged the enemy along the whole line. To give the greatest possible assistance to home, I left the position in the camp and advanced towards the northwest, to attack the enemy's line of battle in the rear.

Marching forward, we stroked the Fayetteville road, making our way through a large number of cattle and horse until we arrived at an eminence used as a slaughtering place, and known as Sharp's farm. On our route we had taken about 100 prisoners, who were scattered over the camp.

At Sharp's place we met numbers of the enemy's soldiers, who were evidently retiring in this direction, and, as I suspected that the enemy on his retreat would follow in the same direction, I formed the troops across this road, by planting the artillery on the plateau and the two infantry regiments on the right and left across the road, whilst the cavalry companies extended on our flanks. At this time, and after some skirmishing in front of our line, the firing in the direction of northwest, which was during an hour's time roaring in succession, had almost ceased entirely. I therefore thought that the attack of General Lyon had been successful, and that his troops were in pursuit of the enemy, who moved in large masses towards the south, along the ridge of a hill, about 700 yards opposite our right.

This was the state of affairs at 8.30 o'clock in the morning, when it was reported to me by Dr. Melchior and some of our skirmishers that Lyon's men were coming up the road. Lieutenant-Colonel Albert, of the Third, and Colonel Salomon, of the Fifth, notified their regiments not to fire on troops coming in this direction, whilst I cautioned the artillery in the same manner. Our troops in the moment excepted with anxiety the approach of our friends, and were waving the flag, raised as a signal to their comrades, when at once two batteries opened their fire against us, one in front, placed on the Fayetteville road, and the other upon the hill on which we had supposed Lyon's forces were in pursuit of the enemy, whilst a strong column of infantry, supposed to be the Iowa regiment, advanced from the Fayetteville road and attacked our right.

It is impossible for me to describe the consternation and frightful confusion which was occasioned by this unfortunate event. The cry, "They (Lyon's troops) are firing against us," spread like wildfire myself, could hardly be brought forward to serve their pieces; the infantry would not level their arms till it was too late. The enemy arrived within ten paces from the mouth of our cannon, killed the horses, turned the flanks of the infantry, and forced them to retire. The troops were throwing themselves into the bushes and by-roads, retreating as well as they could, followed and attacked incessantly by