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Great Fight at Springfield.


July/August 1861

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, August 14, 1861.


Glorious Victory for the Federal Troops.


Gens. McCulloch and Price of the Rebel Forces Killed.

The Federal Army Passed the Night on the Field.


90 Rebels Taken Prisoners.

The Louisiana and Mississippi Regiments Annihilated.


He Retires to Springfield Sunday Morning.

A special messenger by a special train from Rolla to Gen. Fremont, arrived at headquarters this morning, and gives the following verbal report of a glorious fight, which took place between Gen. Lyon and Gen. McCulloch’s forces, on Saturday last. Early on Saturday morning Gen. Lyon no longer awaiting the onset of the enemy, marched out from Springfield to give him battle, his fighting forces amounting to about 5,500 men. He came up to him on Davis creek, in Green’s prairie, a few miles southwest of Springfield, where he had taken a strong position on some rolling ground.

At twenty minutes past six o’clock in the morning, General Lyon fired his first gun at them, when the battle immediately began. A severe cannonading was kept up for two or three hours, when the fire of Captain Totten’s artillery proving too severe for the enemy, they gradually fell back towards their encampment on Wilson’s Creek.

General Lyons’s cavalry posted on the enemy’s left flank, and General Sigel’s artillery on the right, then began a terrible attack, and spread slaughter and dismay in the ranks of the enemy, pursuing them to their camp, the shells from Totten’s artillery set fire to their tents and baggage wagons, which were all destroyed. A Louisiana regiment and a Mississippi regiment seemed to have suffered most in the fight, and were almost annihilated.

Some time in the afternoon of the day, as Gen. Lyon was leading on his column, his horse was shot from under him. He immediately mounted another, which was brought to him, and as he turned around to his men, waving his hat in his hand, and cheering them on to the victory, he was struck in the small of the back by a ball, and fell dead to the ground.

The command then devolved upon Gen. Sigel.

The pursuit continued until night fall, when our brave little army rested for the night in the encampment of the enemy.

On Sunday morning, Gen. Sigel, fearing that the enemy might recover and attempt to cut his command off from Springfield, fell back upon that city where the Home Guards were stationed.

Reaching Springfield and fearing that the great numbers of the enemy might induce them to get between him and Rolla, Gen. Sigel concluded to fall back upon Rolla with his provision trains and meet the reinforcements which were on their way to him.

At the latest moment of the departure of the messenger the enemy has not been seen, and it is probable that General Sigel has not been disturbed in his march.

Ninety of the rebels were captured—among whom was a Colonel of distinction, the messenger not remembering his name.

Gen. McCulloch and Price are among the killed of the rebels. The sword and horse of McCulloch were among the trophies.

According to the reports of the prisoners, the rebel forces amounted to about 22,000 men.

Reinforcements are on their way from Rolla, and Gen. Sigel and his army may be considered safe.

The losses on both sides are great, the enemy’s loss being terrible.




800 Federals Killed and Wounded.

The following is the official report of the fight near Springfield on Saturday last, as forwarded by one of Gen. Lyon’s Aides-de-Camp to Gen. Fremont:

General Lyon in three columns, under himself, General Sigel and Major Sturgis, of the cavalry, attacked the enemy at half past six, of the morning of the 10th, nine miles southeast of Springfield. Engagement severe. Our loss about 800 killed and wounded.

Gen. Lyon was killed in a charge at the head of his column. Our force was 8,000, including 2,000 Home Guards.

Muster-rolls reported taken from the enemy give his strength at 23,000, including regiments from Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, with Texas Rangers and Cherokee half-breeds.

Their loss is reported heavy, including Generals McCulloch and Price. This statement is corroborated by prisoners. Their tents and wagons were destroyed in the action.

Sigel left one gun on the field and retreated to Springfield with a large number of prisoners.

At three o’clock on the morning of the 11th he continued his retreat upon Rolla, bringing off his baggage trains and $25,000 in specie from the Springfield bank.


It is related of Gen. Sigel that he was in danger of losing another gun on the battlefield, its horses having been killed.

He, however, at once brought into requisition a detachment of the ninety prisoners captured, and made them haul it into Springfield.

The following extract is from a private letter from John M. Richardson. It seems Mr. Richardson was on his way to Springfield, when he met some of the flying citizens of that place, who gave him the following facts:

ROLLA, August 12.

DEAR SIR:–Gen. Lyon with his force attacked the enemy at daylight on Saturday morning, and after a desperate engagement of four or five hours, and the loss of our brave General Lyon, the enemy was driven from the field losing from 1,500 to 2,000 men. Rumor says it is well authenticated that Gens. Price and McCulloch are among the enemy’s missing. Our loss in killed and wounded will not exceed 800. This I have from good authority from citizens of Springfield who left there on Sunday morning, and who I saw fifty miles west of here this morning at 8 o’clock.