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Battle of Oak Hills, Springfield, or Wilson's Creek, MO
in the American Civil War

Online Books:
Official Records, Union Reports (Pages 53-98)
Official Records, Confederate Reports (Pages 98-130)
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, by the United States War Department, 1880

An Account of the Battle of Wilson's Creek, by Return Ira Holcombe, 1883

Union Battle Summary

Wilson's Creek, Mo., Aug. 10, 1861. Army of the West. About 5 p.m. of the 9th the Federal forces under Gen. Nathaniel Lyon moved out from camp near Springfield to attack the Confederates encamped at Wilson's creek. They moved in two columns, one under Lyon and the other under Col. Franz Sigel. Lyon with the main body was to proceed down the Cassville road to the prairie and then turn so as to attack the Confederate left. Sigel was to move with his brigade to the left of the Cassville pike. Lyon's advance came close to the Confederate guard fires at 1 a.m. of the 10th and lay on their arms until early dawn. Then moving southward a short distance, a line of battle was formed and the column advanced until the enemy's outposts were encountered and driven in. A detachment was thrown across the creek and in the forward movement kept pace with the main line of battle. The skirmishing along the entire front soon became very brisk, and the Confederates were found occupying a ridge almost at right angles to the line of march and to the valley of Wilson's creek. The 1st Mo. was deployed and sent on the right and the 1st Kansas to the left, the two regiments driving the enemy back, after which the whole line steadily advanced and the fighting became furious. Totten's battery was brought into the action by section or piece as the nature of the ground permitted, and after an action of half or three-quarters of an hour, in which the portion of the line near the battery had been driven twice in confusion, only to be rallied and brought back into the fight, the Confederates gave way. Four companies of infantry under Capt. Plummer had been ordered to move forward on the right, but had been momentarily repulsed by a heavy force in a corn-field, when Du Bois' battery came up and by a few well directed shots cleared the field. The 1st Mo. on the extreme Federal right was still heavily engaged and the 2nd Kan. was sent to its support, succeeding in driving the enemy back. For a time there was a cessation of the heavy firing and then the Confederates advanced in force on the front, their onjective point being Totten's battery. For more than an hour the battle raged around the battery, its support several times falling back only to be replaced by fresh troops. At one time every available battalion of Lyon's army was engaged. It was at this point while attempting to rally his men during an advance on the enemy to within 30 yards of the battery that Lyon was killed. The command then devolved upon Maj. Samuel D. Sturgis, and within half an hour after Lyon had fallen the Confederates had been repulsed. Meanwhile nothing had been heard of Sigel's column which was to have cooperated with Lyon. Sturgis called his commanders together and it was debated whether it was wiser to advance or retire. While the discussion was in progress a considerable force of infantry was seen coming from the direction in which Sigel was supposed to be. As it was bearing the U.S. flag it was supposed that it was Sigel's column and Sturgis ordered his men forward to meet it. The column advanced down the hill in front of Sturgis within easy reach of the artillery and it was not until a battery was planted on the hill opposite that Sturgis discovered that it was Confederates who were advancing against him. The assault at this point was the fiercest of the day. Several times the enemy advanced to within a few feet of Totten's battery, but for the first time during the day the Union line could not be budged. Not a single battalion or company moved from its position and after their last desperate effort the enemy turned and fled. Meantime Sigel had taken a position and was awaiting the repulse of the enemy by Lyon's column. It was reported to him that Lyon's troops were marching up the road to form a junction with his and it was not until the approaching enemy opened a battery upon him that he discovered that it was a Confederate force. His men became panic-stricken and fled in disorder, losing in killed, wounded and missing, 292 men. The loss in Lyon's command was 223 killed, 721 wounded and 291 captured or missing. The enemy had 265 killed, 800 wounded and 30 captured or missing. (This action is also known as Oak Hills and Springfield.)

Source: The Union Army, Volume 6, Cyclopedia of Battles, 1908


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