|Although we had driven the Battle of Wilson's Creek tour road yesterday and as tomorrow is the planned 150th Anniversary Commemoration Program, we reviewed the battle which continues in the National Park Service brochure from yesterday's entry.
Despite inferior numbers, Union Brigadier General Nathanial Lyon decided to attack the Confederate encampments. Leaving 1,000 men to guard his supplies, Lyon led 5,400 soldiers out of Springfield at night on August 9. His plan called for 1,200 men under Colonel Franz Sigel (of St. Louis) to swing wide to the south, flanking the Confederate right, as Lyon's main force struck from the north. Success hinged on surprise.
Ironically, Confederate leaders also planned a surprise attack, with rain at night on August 9, Governor Benjamin McCulloch, now in overall command, cancelled it. Lyon's attack at 6:00 a.m. on August 10 caught the Southerners off guard, driving them back. Forging rapidly ahead, the Federals (Union) overran several Confederate camps and occupied the rest of a ridge later named "Bloody Hill". The nearby Pulaski Arkansas Battery (Confederate) opened fire, checking the Federal advance. This gave Major General Sterling Price's infantry time to form a line of battle on the hill's south slope.
The battle raged on Bloody Hill for over 5 hours, often at close quarters, and the tide turned with each charge and countercharge. Sigel's flanking maneuver, successful at first, collapsed in the fields of an adjacent form owned by NAME Sharp where McCulloch's men counterattacked. Defeated, Sigel and his troops fled.
On Bloody Hill at about 9:30 a.m., General Lyon, wounded twice already, was killed leading a countercharge. Major Samuel Sturgis assumed command of the Federal forces and by 11:00 a.m., ammunition nearly exhausted, ordered withdrawal to Springfield. The Battle of Wilson's Creek was over. Losses were heavy and about equal on both sides-1,317 for the Federals, 1,222 for the Confederates. The Southerners, victorious on the field, could not pursue the Northerners. Lyon lost the battle and his life but achieved his goal: Missouri stayed in Union control.
An interesting tidbit, from the National Park Service Battle of Wilson's Creek website, is the following which notes the Woodruff name (no relation):
Captain James Totten's Battery F, 2nd U.S. Artillery dueled with Captain William Woodruff's Pulaski Battery during the Battle of Wilson's Creek. Ironically, before the war James Totten had helped the members of Woodruff's Battery with their artillery training.