Today in History:

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

Page 94 OPERATIONS IN MO., ARK., KANS., AND IND. T. Chapter X.

be mailed to you to-night in relation to General Sigel, showing him unfit for the rank he now holds.


SAINT LOUIS, MO., February 13, 1862.

Major-General HALLECK,

Commanding Department of the Missouri:

GENERAL: The question of the merits of Brigadier General Franz Sigel, as a commander, having assumed such shape as to deeply involve the interests of the service, I deem it my duty to make a statement of facts which came to my knowledge during the campaign of last summer in the Southwest, ending in the death of General Lyon and the retreat of his army from Springfield.

Soon after the capture of Camp Jackson, in May, General Lyon sent Colonel Sigel, with his two regiments of infantry and two batteries of artillery, to the southwestern part of the State, by way of Rolla, to cut off the retreat of Price's force, which he (Lyon) was about to drive from Booneville. Colonel Sigel passed beyond Springfield, reaching a point not far from the Kansas line, and on the main road used by Price's men in their movement south to join him. Here he left a single company of infantry in a small town, with no apparent object, unless that it might fall into the hands of the enemy, which it did the next day (5th of July). Sigel met Price the next day and fought the celebrated "battle of Carthage." Sigel had about two regiments of infantry, well armed and equipped, most of the men old German soldiers, and two good batteries of artillery. Price had about twice Sigel's number of men, but most of them mounted, armed with shot-guns and common rifles, and entirely without organization and discipline, and few pieces of almost worthless artillery. Sigel retreated all day before this miserable rabble, contenting himself with repelling their irregular attacks, which he did with perfect ease whenever they ventured to make them. The loss on either side was quite insignificant. Price and McCulloch were thus permitted to join each other absolutely without opposition; Sigel, who had been sent there to prevent their junction, making a "masterly retreat."

Several days before the battle of Wislon's Creek it was ascertained beyond a doubt that the enemy's strength was about 22,000 men, with at least twenty pieces of artillery, while our force was only about 5,000. About the 7th of August the main body of the enemy reached Wilson's Creek, and General Lyon decided to attack him. The plan of attack was freely discussed between General Lyon, the members of his staff, Colonel Sigel, and several officers of the Regular Army. Colonel Sigel, apparently anxious for a separate command, advocated the plan of a divided attack. All others, I believe, opposed it.

On the 8th of August the plan of a single attack was adopted, to be carried our on the 9th. This had to be postponed on account of the exhaustion of a part of our troops. During the morning of the 9th, Colonel Sigel had a long interview with General lyon, and prevailed upon him to adopt his plan, which led to the mixture of glory, disgrace, and disaster of the ever-memorable 10th of August. Sigel, in attempting to perform the part assigned to himself, lost his artillery, lost his artillery, lost his infantry, and fled alone, or nearly so, to Springfield, arriving there long before the battle was ended. Yet he had almost nobody killed or wounded. One piece of his artillery and five or six hundred infantry were picked up and brought in by a company of regular cavalry. No effort was

Page 94 OPERATIONS IN MO., ARK., KANS., AND IND. T. Chapter X.