Skip to main content

tv   The Civil War Battle of Wilsons Creek  CSPAN  January 3, 2020 9:48am-10:46am EST

9:48 am
>> for 40 years, c-span has been providing american unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events from washington, d.c. and around the country so you can make up your own mind. created by cable in 1979, c-span is brought to you by your local cable or satellite provider. c-span, your unfiltered view of government. "american history tv" continues its look at the civil war with remarks from kristen paullack at the battle of wilson's creek in august of 1861. she explained that the conflict is significant because it was the first major battle west of the mississippi river. this was part of a symposium on forgotten battles of the civil war hosted by the emerging civil
9:49 am
war blog. it's an hour. our next speaker will be speaking on the battle of wilson's creek. she's a native of missouri and specializes in the trans mississippi west. kristen received her master of arts from webster university in non-profit leadership in may of 2018. previously she has worked for the missouri civil war museum in st. louis and the gettysburg college special collections. kristen is working on her first book as part of the emerging civil war series. please join me in welcoming kristen pollack. [ applause ] >> all right. first of all, thank you to
9:50 am
everyone here. thank you to emerging civil war for having me out this evening. this is an honor to be able to speak to you all about the battle of wilson's creek which was fought on august the 10 sou of missouri, which is my native state. tonight's presentation is actually entitled this means war, the forgotten battle of wilson's creek. i want to start off kind of setting the stage and also talking a little bit about what we mean by this means war. but i want to take us back to june 11th of 1861 in st. louis, missouri, to the planter's house hotel which is just downtown, it's one of the nicest hotels in the 19th century. but six of the most important early war leaders in missouri have set together at the planter's house hotel on june 11th.
9:51 am
we have brigadier general of u.s. volunteers nathaniel lion, his aide as well as unionist leader and missouri state senator francis p. blair. for the successionist leaders we have governor claiborne jackson major general of the missouri state guard sterling price and governor jackson's aide. they come together at this meeting to keep the peace, if possible. they are there to negotiate, to prevent the outbreak of war in missouri. but this meeting will last for several hours and brig dean general lion grows frustrated as the minutes tick by, to the point where he gets up out of his seat, looks at the successionist leaders tells them this, rather than concede to the state of missouri the right to demand that my government shall not enlist troops within her limits or bring troops into the states whenever it pleases, or
9:52 am
move troops at its own will into, out of or through the state, rather than concede to the state of missouri for one single instant the right to dictate to my government in any manner however unimportant i will see you and you and you and every man, woman and child in the state dead and buried. this means war. seriously, that's exactly how it was said, too, so i try to dramatize that a little bit for the crowd. but in order for us to really understand what had tapped at the planter's house hotel meeting that day, we need to go back a little bit, just a few months prior to right around late 1860 into 1861. i like to claim that missouri is an american border land and as we can see here this is one of george caleb bingham's famous
9:53 am
paintings, part of a series of works that he did on elections in the state of missouri but i think that gives a great -- i guess more of a great take on what it was like at that time in the mid 19th century, but an american border land, missouri does not fit the description of north, south, east or west. we typically think of it as the trans mississippi west, it being west of mississippi river, but it really does not fit any of those descriptions, in fact, most of missourians who are native born they actually come from the south. many of them are kentuckians, tennesseeans, virginians, carolinaians. many are bringing with them their slaves because as we all know the missouri compromise of 1820 does not put any restrictions upon the constitution of slavery in the state of missouri and also brings maine in as a free state. this is how we get the stage set. however, missouri is not just
9:54 am
white folk or the enslaved that are coming into its borders, in fact, we have a very large population of immigrants that have begun to pour into the state including the germans and the irish, the two largest of those ethnic groups in european immigrants that come into the state. they themselves are dominantly problem unionist, many are anti-slavery as well, but they begin to concentrate themselves in the city of st. louis and throughout the missouri river valley. to kind of give you a better view of the state and what it looked like for the european population as well as for the enslaved, i have this map here. the green shade, that means the european immigrants, that's their population, and where they're concentrated, as well as the shaded counties that you see, the darker the shade the higher the percentage of the population is enslaved. in total missouri has about 1.2 million within its borders by the census of 1860, about 10% of that population are enslaved.
9:55 am
so it's about 115,000. now i want to jump us ahead to april of 1861. we know when fort sumpter was but there were things going on in missouri and what happened and how we get to the battle of wilson's creek. following fort sumpter the newly elected governor of missouri claiborne jackson he has actually rejected lincoln's proposal and his request for four regiments from volunteers from the state of missouri. he has outright rejected it. he's actually keeping in mind that there was the liberty arsenal in liberty, missouri, which is located just due east of kansas city, kind of gives you an idea on the western border of missouri, the liberty arsenal is the second largest arsenal in the state of missouri and it had fallen to secessionists in april. if we bump up ahead to may, the
9:56 am
st. louis arsenal which is pictured here as the background, this is right around that time, right around the time of the civil war, as you can see it's quite large. it's actually the largest in any of the border states and it's one of the largest if not the largest by 1861 the largest arsenal in the entire south. there are over 300,000 arms at the st. louis arsenal at that time. so it's key for the lincoln administration and for the unionists of missouri and st. louis to protect this at all costs. to do this they request the help of captain nathaniel lyon who is in command of company b of the second united states infantry regiment. he was stationed at forth leavenworth when the civil war officially began in april but then he was transferred to st. louis where he would bring with him about 100 men to guard the arsenal. he does realize, though, that the arsenal is going to take a
9:57 am
lot more men than 100 to protect it, especially knowing that governor claiborne jackson, which he is pictured here, again, he has been working with the confederate government conspiring with them to, in his eyes, hopefully bring missouri into the confederacy officially and join these rebellious states. what he's planning to do is he's actually calling for the militia, the northeastern district of missouri state militia has gathered just outside of st. louis at a place known and lindell's grove, it's actually where st. louis university's campused too. but they gather there and they create this camp known as camp jackson. there is about 600 or so, there's anywhere from 600 to 900 depending on what records you look at, but he's got quite a few men with him, these militia, but at the same time as these
9:58 am
men begin to congregate at camp jackson, governor jackson is awaiting a package to be shipped from baton rouge, louisiana, up the mississippi. arriving in st. louis early may are actually four guns, four cannon that have arrived, including two 32-pound siege guns. jefferson davis had authorized that movement of those four cannon to st. louis to help governor jackson and the militia capture the st. louis arsenal. but that's not going to happen because nathaniel lyon is going to bring 6,000 men. he has been able to recruit 6,000 home guard and u.s. reserve core. it's not the veterans reserve but u.s. reserve corps a specialized unit founded in st. louis in 1861 including augustus bush and everyhart anheiser,
9:59 am
they are a part of the reserve units. in command of the militia is actually this gentleman here, brigadier general daniel frost, a brigadier general of state militia, but he is in command. nathaniel lyon on may 10 will bring his 6,000 troops, surround camp jackson and force its surrender. this is what he writes to general frost, it is my duty to demand and i do hereby demand of you an immediate surrender of your command. general frost has no choice but to surrender. now, lyon himself is trying to imprison these militia and to prevent them from ever forming up again, but he realizes that there's not enough space for several hundred militia to be kept at the st. louis arsenal so what he decides to do is he is going to parole them. he must humiliate them first so
10:00 am
what he does is he gathers all the militia that he has captured, marches them through the streets of st. louis. as he does that a crowd of angry onlookers is beginning to grow and they begin to surround this approaching column of prisoners and guard. somebody is throwing rocks and stones while another pulls out a gun. now, i want to read to you just real quick this account from somebody you probably have heard of. the man had in his hand a small pistol which he fired off and i heard the ball had struck the leg of one of oster house's staff. the regiment stopped, there was a moment of confusion when the soldiers of that regiment begin to fire over our heads in the grove. i heard the balls cutting the leaves above our heads and saw several men and women running in all directions. some of whom were wounded. a woman and child were killed outright.
10:01 am
two or three men were also killed and several others were wounded. of course, i could no longer defer action. i was willing to come to sherman. he witnessed the camp jackson affair event as well as ulysses s. grant, both of them did and they will both write about it in their memoires. as a result of camp jackson, this is like a lightning bolt, because ultimately 28 civilians had been killed and 75 were wounded. this was not just an event that shook st. louis and missouri, this is an event that shook the core of the united states and this event will spiral out of control for the state of missouri. in response to this missouri is mobilizing for war. within just a matter of days the state legislature in jefferson city convenes and they pass what's known as the military bill. the military bill was really the
10:02 am
ability for the general assembly to give the governor, governor jackson, just unprecedented control over state militia. it gives him these very powerful powers for commanding the military. so it also creates this defense force, a state defense force known as the missouri state guard. it also places the former missouri governor and mexican american war hero sterling price in command of that defense force. now, just to let you know, the missouri state guard is not a confederate sanctioned force. in fact, it is a state force itself. so when i do refer to the state guard i will call them southerners just because they are not confederate yet. they will later on down the road a few months into -- or a few months after this and after the battle of wilson's creek. now, the commander who is in
10:03 am
command of the department of the west in st. louis is a gentleman known as william harney. he has been doing everything in his power to try to keep the peace. he is definitely not one of thighs guys who is an ardent unionist willing to do whatever he can to protect the union, however, he's trying to keep the peace and prevent the outbreak of war. that's really important to remember with him. but because he is not such a strong staunch unionist and because he is not taking those bold actions to stop sterling price and the missouri state guard as well as the governor, he's quickly replaced by the lincoln administration and nathaniel lyon will take over that command temporarily until you get john c. free month being put into command later on. lyon now with the ability to raise troops, he is officially promoted to brigadier general at this point and he actually raises upwards of 11,000 men. that's including the united states reserve corps units and
10:04 am
home corps units that will be used to guard railroads and the rivers throughout the campaign. now, just as a reminder, june 11th is the planter's house hotel meeting and remember, too, that that was really the official declaration of war by lyon to the secessionists and this will call a spiraling out of control. so following the planter's house hotel meeting just a matter of two days later lyon will get his troops mobilized. he is ready to maneuver, to advance and start to boot the state guard and the pro-confederate government out of jefferson city. so this is his strategy in the summer of 1861 beginning june the 13th. nathaniel lyon is looking at two columns coming out of st. louis, the first column which is the column to the north, st. louis to the capitol, jefferson city, they will actually -- he will
10:05 am
take about 1,700 men with him by steamboat across the missouri river to jefferson city will he will overthrow the government. frans sweeney, they will take a column from st. louis to springfield. the goal there is to secure the wire or telegraph road as well as the southwestern branch of the pacific railroad, those are the main lines of communication. coming in from ft. leavenworth, kansas, is major samuel sturgess, sturgess will have the u.s. regulars which include infant infantry, calvary and artillery and he will also have the kansas volunteers, many of the kansas units, the first and second cast will join him and they will begin their movement into the state of missouri. the goal here that lyon has in mind is to basically create a
10:06 am
pin serve movement and to knock out the state guard and as well as the confederate government from jefferson city and drive them out of the state. remember, too, nathaniel lyon he is a connecticut native, he is west point class of 1841. he's got military experience so he's definitely going to be using much of these tactics that he had learned at the academy. so beginning june the 13th the plan works. lyon has split his forces into two, he is easily able to get to jefferson city, the government actually flees. governor jackson will actually make a request out to the rest of the state for 50,000 missouri state guard troops to rendezvous at booneville. booneville sits upriver from jefferson city and that's exactly where they go. so governor jackson and his administration will leave
10:07 am
jefferson city, move up to booneville where he will hopefully in his eyes meet up with the rest of the guard. so lyon is able to do that, he's able to maneuver at the battle of booneville lyon's troops will engage with a small contingent of state guard, easily driving them from the field. franz siegel will take command of this column, thomas sweeney will remain in st. louis to secure any of the supplies as well as the supply lines and create a base that they can have at ralla. so they are going to be moving from st. louis to springfield, siegel will arrive in springfield june the 24th. lyon is also expecting sturgess to arrive. sturgess will meet at clinton, hoping that lyon will rendezvous there, lyon will leave booneville a little bit later on june -- or july the 3rd, from booneville where they will meet at clinton. at the same time after the guard
10:08 am
had fled jefferson city and also been defeated at booneville, jackson, governor jackson, will take a column of men and start moving towards the southwestern area of the state. sterling price is actually sick during the initial stages of the campaign, he's sick with diarrhea. so he is actually staying up in lexington temporarily until he feels a little bit better and that he's making his way to meosho. during this maneuver both columns of state guard are trying to recruit. they're trying to build up this army and utilize this threat of the u.s. army advancing through the state kind of as a call to arms for many missourians. many of them do. ultimately siegel arrives at springfield and what he's planning on doing is as jackson moves from booneville down to the area known -- or a town known as lamar, general reins
10:09 am
and general slack of the missouri state guard will take their two divisions and move from lexington down to rendezvous with jackson. siegel sees an community after he captures neosho and boots sterling price out, he will actually clash with jackson's column at the battle of carthage which will result in the first confederate victory there in the campaign. ben mcculloch who is a confederate general down in the indian territory has a brigade of men that he will go inn to advance into the state of missouri july the 4th. now, some historians believe that this is the very first confederate invasion of the fort. some may argue differently, but i've heard both, but this is obviously one of the first, i will say that at least. all right. and just as kind of a fun cartoon, this was done back right after the battle of booneville, showing the great
10:10 am
missouri lyon hunt. you can see nalt annual lyon is a lion and chasing governor jackson and price, you can see price holding his belly, he's obviously sick. the third and fourth stages of the campaign lyon and sturgess have dpartd clinton, they will rendezvous at springfield, mcculloch and price leave carthage following the battle of carthage and begin to go back to their encampments. these are green troops, they're still needing to train. they go back to their respective encampments. cow skin prairie is the very low part of the state, the southern part of the state in the southwest corner bordering the indian territory. mcculloch has also worked with the governor of arkansas giving command of the arkansas state troops. he is down at camps yancey and jackson just across the border waiting for the next stage of this campaign. he has gotten permission from the confederate government to
10:11 am
maneuver into missouri if the situation calls for it. actually, one last thing here. both of the armies at this point they are looking for a fight. by august the 1st nathaniel lyon has departed springfield and has actually started to go after this column. now, he is not entirely sure yet that ben mcculloch's force has united with price. they do that at cassville in late july into early august and they maneuver from cassville towards springfield, also knowing that lyon is there. so both of these armies want to fight and so they do at doug springs temporarily, it's a small skirmish and then lyon flees back to springfield while mcculloch and price will take camp at the wilson creek valley. the thing is with wilson creek, it is wilson creek, not wilson's creek. that's actually the real neighboring of it, i will throw
10:12 am
around wilson creek for the creek and the battle of wilson's creek. something to keep in mind ben mcculloch and sterling price have an interesting relationship, one that is full of friction and a lot of arguing and differences. so there's definitely growing tension. a lot of it has to do with the performance of price's troops at booneville. a lot of this -- a lot of doubt is in mcculloch's mind about whether or not the state guard can perform because these are green troops, they are armed with squirrel rifles, hunting rifles, some of them have hatchets and other weapons that do not fire. they are a ragtag army so he has a lot of doubts. so that causes a lot of friction. he also doesn't believe that price is a competent commander. so there has been a few of these things that have started to cause quite a bit of tension. just as a reminder, the army will settle in the wilson creek
10:13 am
valley august the 6th. ben mcculloch is given full command, arkansas state troops, missouri state guard and his brigade on august the 4th and that was really as a result of price pestering him, we've got to move. we've got to advance. mcculloch at times was hesitant because of -- mainly due to the fact that he didn't believe the state guard was ready to fight. so there was that. but things do change for them in the coming days. remember the battle itself is fought august 10th. so we are not talking very long before. the thing is that nathaniel lyon up in springfield is a genius when it comes to intelligence and to secure springfield and his lines of communication and keeping -- making sure that his army is locked when it comes to letting anything leak out of his plans, you know, the strength of his army, all of that. so it's been very difficult for the western army as they call
10:14 am
these three branches together, it's very difficult for them to get any word of what's happening until august the 8th. so this is just two days before the battle. august the 8th two women from springfield arrive in the western army's camp at the wilson creek valley alerting mcculloch and price that lyon is anxious, he is growing more and more nervous, he knows he is outnumbered, he is actually outnumbered at this point between mcculloch and price and the arkansas state troops. he is outnumbered over two to one. he doesn't really know this yet, but they also know that he also does know he's outnumbered, it's just to what degree. they also are saying that lyon is contemplating falling back to ralla, which is, again, along their line of communication which would be a safe route and it's something that they are considering.
10:15 am
mcculloch also being pestered by price, he's like, we've got to move, we need to move and price finally gives in, okay, we'll move. the orders go out august the 9th. they will depart the wilson creek valley for springfield that evening and attack at dawn the next day. however, thunderstorms begin to roll in, forcing mcculloch to call off the attack. and that has to do mainly with the troops having their cartridges and having no cartridge box to protect their cartridges from getting wet so there was that fear. but here is the thing, after mcculloch calls off the attack, he forgets to put out -- he actually forgets to put out any advanced guard. so they have no forewarning if there is an oncoming attack. all right. to give you an idea, this is the western army for you, it's got about 12,000 troops, about 2,000 of them are unarmed, so about 10,000 that are able to fight.
10:16 am
you can see how these are broken up. broken up into three, missouri state guard under price, the confederate brigade is now under kernel -- the army of the west, again, they are in springfield, they have 5,400 to kind of give you an idea. the first grid gad stan sturgess, second franz siegel, the third lieutenant colonel -- they are armed a little bit better, armed mainly with rifles and mexican war-era muskets. now, up in springfield in the days before the battle there is a lot of contemplation by lyon and his subordinates whether or not to attack or to retreat. again, he knows he's outnumbered it's just how much. there's also a lack of reinforcements coming from fremont. fremont in kmant of the western
10:17 am
department has been contemplating how does he distribute any new troops that are coming in. he's been mainly sending them down to the southeastern corner as we know there is a lot going on in the southeastern corner of missouri, kind of where cairo illinois is and little egypt as we call it, there is a lot of movement there and big threat of a confederate invasion in the southeast corner of the state so fremont is preoccupied with that. there is also a significant number of expiring enlistments. nathaniel lyon's army has been bleeding, literally bleeding to death of losing men from expired enlistments. the vast majority of them are scheduled to expire by the end of the month. so he's got -- he knows that and so he's crunched for time. overwhelming enemy numbers, as i said before, he's completely outthmd. he wi outnumbered. he will not find out that
10:18 am
mccolumn has united with price until august 9th when some of his men who are out on recon, they actually stumble into -- i believe it was a farm, they stumble in and somebody told them, yeah, we just -- texas troops have been here. texas troops? this is south kansas, texas mounted rifle men and they were under ben mcculloch's command. so they do know. that was the confirmation that lyon needed to know, i am now outnumbered over two to one. so very scary situation. most of the subordinates believe that the army needs to fall back at this point. they know that they're outnumbered. they're running low on ammunition. they need to get back to ralla, get back to their secure supply line, get more men. but lyon is a little hesitant. there was a council of war on august the 9th itself and lyon is asking around to his subordinates do we attack on
10:19 am
what? most of them say to fall back. after the meeting thomas sweeney comes up to lyon and has a heart to heart with him in his tent. trying to convince him, we need to attack. and that's exactly what lyon decides to do. he will attack. franz siegel also offers a strategy, instead of attacking head-on along the wire road, straight to the wilson creek valley, siegel is offering a double envelopment, divide the army. typically we think of lee chance lettersville for dividing your army even when it's outnumbered but you could say as well at the battle of wilson's creek that happens as well. so lyon will actually order his men at 5:00 p.m. to depart springfield on august the 9th and they begin their movement towards the wilson creek valley. they go along the wire road to the southwest. as they approach the wilson
10:20 am
creek valley both wings, lyon -- here lyon will have about 4,200 men or so, siegel will have about 1,200, that was his second brig grade he's taking with them, they will branch off of the wire road and they will do a double envelopment attack. that's the plan. they will halt in the early morning hours of august 10th to rest before they begin their actual attack. there we go. opening attack. so nathaniel lyon will order his army to wake up at 4:00 in the morning, to move out. if we look at this map here, north is this way, south is this way, just so we know. nathaniel lyon will storm, he will go at the double quick as he pushes his way south and as he does so he's beginning to run
10:21 am
into some of these troops, some of these southern troops, thinking that, okay, this is actually the picket line but in fact it wasn't, instead these are members of the missouri state guard who have gone on a forging expedition to go get some more food and as they're doing that they're running into an entire advancing column of federal troops. they begin to run back. they alert colonel james hawthorn who is in command of a cav valerie brigade in general reins' eighth division. he will dispatch one of his divisions and you colonel hunter who will then approach this column. the goal is that dee wit hunter slows them down. he has about 100 men with him and he will move from bloody hill. there's actually a ridge just behind bloody hill that they will take position on. they're just trying to slow down
10:22 am
lyon. it takes lyon about an hour at that point to slow down, get into line of battle and begin to attack and to press dewit hunter's force off of that ridge. nathaniel lyon will continue to move towards bloody hill which is a large plateau with lots of ravines that he sees right away asing with being a very prominent position for his artillery and also for a line of defense and a good position to further launch his attack so he goes for bloody hill. obviously that's where -- we will figure out why that name sticks as we get later on in the battle. nathaniel lyon spots a ravine right here, must to the north of bloody hill. he's going to send his first kansas and first missouri infantry regiments along with to then's battery, battery f of the second u.s. artillery. he will send them charging
10:23 am
forward because it's a very, very steep ravine. he will send the rest of his column around bloody hill hopefully to get on top of the actual hill right up here. he's also going to send one detachment off to the east under captain joseph plumber. he is in command of a regular battalion of about 300 men. he's also going to take with him several home guard units. they are going to cross the creek and they will -- their goal is to secure the fire road. the wire road gets them straight back to springfield so they know that they've got to control that. as the first kansas and the first missouri as well as to then's battery get to a prominent position on bloody hill, the pulaski battery hears of that, they hear the fire coming from bloody hill and what they do is they actually begin to open tire. to then's battery is starting to pummel the pulaski battery.
10:24 am
so theres this duel that occurs between totten's battery and the pulaski battery over here. now, at this time sterling price and ben mcculloch are in a meeting. they are actually at the edward's property which sits right at the center of the battlefield on the west side of the creek. this is actually a modern image actually as i went to the battlefield recently that's the edward's cabin, it's not the original it's a reproduction -- not a reproduction but one that was built by the edward's family it's just not the original. this is where the state guard emp campment is. mcculloch will meet with -- what they don't know is that they are in an acoustic shadow and as we know what an acoustic shadow does you can't hear anything around you. i can attest to this. i was actually at the edward's
10:25 am
property, my dad was just a few hundred feet away and he was apparently shouting to me when i was right there, right at the spot. i couldn't hear him at all. so you can imagine what it was like for ben mcculloch and sterling price. so they can't hear a thing but they begin to hear reports coming in from various messengers. to give you an idea this is what sterling price will say right in his after action report, i received a message from general reins that the enemy were advancing in great force from the direction of springfield. so to the north. a second messenger came immediately afterwards came from general reins to announce that the main body was upon him. general mcculloch was with me when these messengers came and left at once for his own headquarters to make the necessary disposition of our forces so that explains it pretty well. sterling price and ben mcculloch
10:26 am
get these reports in, finally on the second messenger that comes they know this is serious. battle has occurred. now, just after this meeting as ben mcculloch has went over to his headquarters, his headquarters are actually on the east side of the creek, but joseph plumber is making his move. he's going to cross the creek at the gibson mill property, crossing the creek there and then he's going to push south. again, his target is this wire road, but what he does start to see, he hears cannon fire coming in front of him and he sees the pulaski battery firing on bloody hill. remember that's that duel between totten's battery and the pulaski battery. he hears them and he thinks he can take the pulaski battery but at the same time ben mcculloch who is back at his headquarters he dispatches the second
10:27 am
arkansas mounted rifles and the third louisiana to stop this force. remember plumber's men he has about 300 men under his command, between the second arkansas mounted rifle men and the third louisiana it's over 1,000 men. so you can see they are outnumbered three to one. so it was not a very difficult battle between the two. the third louisiana and the second arkansas smashed right into plumber because the corn was all the way at the height of their own heads so they couldn't even see the enemy coming. as this is happening the dubois battery has moved up on bloody hill. they see what's happening. they see plumber starting to fall back. they start aiming their guns toward the third louisiana and the second arkansas mounted rifles and begin to shell them, forcing the third louisiana and the second arkansas to start scattering. they scatter and they get out. allowing joseph plumber's
10:28 am
battalion to finally fall back to safety and they are able to do that so they really -- dubois' battery helped save the day. there would be no more fighting on the east side of the creek at that point. all right. and here is just a quick visual for you. this is a modern day photograph of the cornfield or part of the cornfield. really at the northern end, but i just thought i'd show you this to kind of give you a visual. we have the regular battalion, this is obviously north here, towards the south so you can see kind of what that would have looked like. so that's just before august when i took this picture so this would have really shown you what it could have looked like by this point. all right. now, remember, siegel has proposed a double envelopment strategy, so siegel with his second brigade is actually going to try to attack the southern end of the western army. so he does this, he is actually able to get from springfield all the way to the southern end of
10:29 am
the ballel field without being picked up by anyone in the western army. that was an intelligence masterpiece. he wasn't even detected until his battery started opening up. so siegel is first positioned over here on the eastern side of the creek, he positions back off the battery just across the creek here to fire on the southern camps. there are southern camps all along the shart farm and along the wilson creek. he begins to fire upon them causing them to scatter and to flee. siegel will then move his men across the creek and begin to position them along what's known as the sharp stubble field and they begin to advance driving away more and more of the state guard, the arkansas state troops and the members of ben mcculloch's brigade out. and here is just a quick visual
10:30 am
of the stubble field and this is about where siegel is moving. so this up here would have been the sharp farm. sorry about that, everyone. anyway, to kind of give you an idea siegel will start moving through the stubble field into the cornfield of the sharp property. his goal is to secure, again, the wire road. that is a very, very important line of communication, a line of supply. it's also the whole point of him securing this road here along the sharp farm ridge is to prevent mcculloch from having any line of retreat. as he's positioned there mcculloch who had just finished sending over the third louisiana and the second arkansas, the second arkansas and the third louisiana have scattered, they have begun to make their way towards these camps, ben mcculloch will call on the third louisiana again. he will lead just a detachment
10:31 am
of the third louisiana, they were beat up pretty badly from the cornfield fights, he will leave them across on the fire road towards siegel position position. at this point siegel has stopped firing his weapons, his guns, he is completely silent because he sees gray clad troops moving south along the wire road. he thinks those are lion's troops. he thinks that those are the first iowa gray hounds so he halts but until it's too late, until he realizes that those are not the iowa gray hounds, those are, in fact -- that is n fact, the third louisiana, it is too late. ben mcculloch was able to rally together about 1,000 men from the state guard as well in this formation and they easily drive back siegel's men, easily, and it's a complete routing. siegel and his second brigade are done. kind of give you a quick idea of what it was like, sergeant otto
10:32 am
lauder man of the third missouri will actually take some time after water to reflect on this. he says this after they had been routed. one poor wheel driver got eight bullets in him and lived about an hour. the artillery horses rushed into an infantry column and we were a big crowd of men, horses, guns and caissons all mixed together all running to the south. they were done. the entire brigade had been routed. now, going back towards the northern end of the battlefield we have a series of multiple attacks on bloody hill. at this point -- so, again, this is from 6:30 in the morning up until 8:30 lyon gets established on bloody hill, he establishes his lines. he is first going to send out the first kansas and first missouri, they are kind of like their -- really his first troops that he sends out, they are some of his most reliable, they begin to push out and their goal is to
10:33 am
really probe the southern positions just south of bloody hill. they just want to find out what the strength is like for the state guard. this he know the state guard is there, just a matter of where. so they begin to get into a skirmish here. while that's happening the rest of lyon's line will begin to move up. as you can see he's got his infantry and in between his infantry units he also has artery such as dubois battery up here, part of totten's battery and another part of totten's battery all together. the state guard at this time will also have mcbride's division storming trying to turn the right flank of the federal army off of bloody hill. it does not work. they are repulsed. just so kind of give you an idea, this is right around where sakulski's section is. that is the one part of totten's
10:34 am
battery on bloody hill. the second attack begins right around 9:00 and these times that i'm listing on here are relative, just based on the sources that i've been able to find. around 9:00 in the morning you begin the second attack. so sterling price will once again try to attack and try to pull off the army of the west right off of bloody hill. in total he's got even more men, he's got about 2,800. the second kansas or actually the first missouri and the first kansas begin to probe. the center of the state guard line nearly ben traits the center of the federal line and nathaniel lyon himself will call up the first iowa to slam against the southern right flank and he will himself rally the second kansas to slam into this portion of their line that had almost crumbled. unfortunately -- just to give
10:35 am
you an idea this is bloody hill, what it looks like right where the second kansas position is. but when nathaniel lyon is calling out the second kansas he had been wounded twice, he had been wounded in the head, he has been wounded in the right thigh. he's a little -- he's i would say discouraged at this point, but he's wanting to rally these men and finish this engagement, so seal this off and he's able to do it. he shouts to the second kansas, come on, my brave boys, i will lead you forward. soon after he is struck through the heart and he falls off of his horse into his aide's arms, his last words were, lemon, i am going, and he dies right there. kind of giving you an idea, this is a very romanticized image that was done for frank leslie's of him dying. and there is the death marker for nathaniel lyon done in 1928.
10:36 am
it's -- we think from modern scholarship that it's actually too far forward, it's actually by that sinkhole photograph i showed you earlier, but he's probably further back on the hill. now, with nathaniel lyon dead it puts major sam sturgess in command of the army. just before this third and final attack by the state guard sam sturgess has a quick council of war, they decide if we do not hear from siegel we have to withdraw. and that's the key, withdraw. so sam sturgess is waiting. he's waiting for any word from siegel and it has not come. now, at this point siegel had already been routed, mcculloch is now able to move away from what was going on at the southern end of tfof the battle and focus on the northern end consolidating as many of the forces as possible and they slam against the army of the west's
10:37 am
position on bloody hill. the army of the west is able to hold them back, however, they never heard from siegel. sturgess is convinced we need to withdraw and that's exactly what he does. so after the guns fall silent they pull out and they pull out really with no one else noticing, not even the enemy. so the enemy falls back at that point and they try it again and when they get to the top of bloody hill no one is there, but unfortunately they left nathaniel lyon's body there on bloody hill so now nathaniel lyon's body was in the southerners' hands. but the aftermath. so at this point sam sturgess has pushed back -- or has actually withdrawn back to springfield and on to ralla. ultimately there is about 2,500 casualties, around 17% of the army or both of the armies combined had casualties.
10:38 am
the army of the west had a staggering 24% loss, a quarter of their army. many of the wounded are being treated at springfield and those left on the battlefield are taken by the southerners and the federals who are able to be evacuated from the battlefield ultimately get sent back up to st. louis for further treatment at places like jefferson barracks. many of them are buried at jefferson barracks or later on at springfield national cemetery. now, why is this battle forgotten? why do we need to remember it? just real quick, lyon at least from the research that i've done is the most successful union general in 1861. in 1861, not over the course of one year, but he is the most successful in terms of what he's able to accomplish. he's going to force both the lincoln and davis administrations to react, to send more troops to missouri, to arkansas in response to this battle. fremont will declare martial law throughout the state including
10:39 am
his infamous emancipation order that's then rejected by lincoln. two state governments will also be -- would be in control of the state of missouri, including a rump legislature down in neosha that passes the ordinance of success in late october, early november of '61 and then there is a unionist government put in at jefferson city. lyon is able to secure many of the major lines of communication that ultimately secure missouri for the union, at least set the stage for that. so i like to say that wilson's creek really is a stage setter rather than it being a definitive battle that had won the fight for missouri. just to keep in mind, too, the southerners they will never regain the initiative like they had at wilson's creek and then when they advanced north to lexington and took the federal fortification there at lexington. so this would be a very difficult rest of the four years
10:40 am
for them. just before i finish up here, just this last quote i like to leave you with, this is from thomas snead who is an aide to governor jackson and the chief of staff of major general sterling price. he says this about lyon. lyon had not died in vane, through him the rebellion which blair had organized to which he had himself given force and strength had succeeded at last. by wisely planning, by boldly doing and by bravely dying he will won the fight for missouri. thank you. [ applause ] >> we have time just for one or two questions. any questions? my big question is kevin chose to introduce his wife which was just a land mine waiting to happen so that's successful. any questions?
10:41 am
any questions? so one of the questions i have for you is wilson's creek seems to be one of those battles that a lot of people have heard of, so maybe not -- it might not be forgotten but it's a battle we don't know a lot about. how do you differentiate that or do you explain that difference? >> that's a great question and i don't know for those who were unable to hear it's like why is -- why do i consider wilson's creek to be forgotten. i think what forgotten means to me is that it's a misunderstood battle. right? i mean, when we think about missouri and the civil war we think of wilson's creek, i think of griuerrilla warfare but i wanted to share with you how many times do we think about wilson's creek when we think about the civil war. typically people remember gettysburg or antietam but wilson's creek will set the stage. i don't think people necessarily
10:42 am
always realize that. it's not taught in the history books. i was flipping through a textbook for my brother and i saw that his history textbook will mention manassas but there is no discussion of wilson's creek. it's an essential part of 1861, it's an essential part of the trans-mississippi west and for missouri and i think that coming up here and sharing with you the story is so important because it's just another one of those battles i think that people ought to remember even more than what they do and to understand a little bit more of the context behind it and what it resulted in so that's a great question. >> ladies and gentlemen, kristen pawlak. >> thank you, everyone. sorry i went a little over. all week we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span 3. lectures in history, american artifacts, reel america, the civil war, oral histories, the presidency and special event coverage about our nation's
10:43 am
history. enjoy american history tv now and every weekend on c-span 3. >> weeknights this week we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span 3. tonight a look at the 75th anniversary of the battle of the bulge. on december 16th, 1944, adolf hitler launched a surprise counteroffensive against allied forces in the arden forest region of belgium, northeastern france in luxembourg. more than 1,000 tanks and 200,000 troops took part in this final nazi effort with the hope to recapture the port city of antwerp. tigers on the loose is a 1965 u.s. army film highlighting the tenth armored division known as the tiger division, narrated by actor lorne green the story is told primarily by the veterans themselves who detailed the
10:44 am
battle and division's experience up to the surrender of germany in may of 1945. we will show that to you tonight starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv on c-span 3. >> american history tv products are now available at the new c-span online store. go to c-spanstore.org to see what's new for american history tv and check out all of the c-span products. >> hi, everyone my name is adam koch and i am a 2018 c-span student cam winner and i'm here to encourage you to continue to wrap up this competition as the deadline is getting pretty close, but don't worry you will still have time. this is actually about the time that i started filming my documentary the first year that i filmed it. i'm in the d.c. offices and i'm going to tell you that c-span student cam was an incredible opportunity for me to express my thoughts and views about the
10:45 am
political climate in the current day as well as connect with some local and state leaders and political office. i'm extremely excited that you all are considered in this and are pursuing this because it's a once in a lifetime opportunity and i'm so excited that you all are taking it. >> there is still time for you to enter the c-span student cam competition. you have until january 20th to create a five to six-minute documentary that explores an issue that you want the presidential candidates to address during campaign 2020. we are giving away a total of $100,000 in cash prizinginepriz. go to our website student cam.org. and now more about the civil war as a. wilson greene looks at general grant's lesser known second petersburg offensive which took place in june 1864 as union forces attempted to capture petersburg, virginia, before con ert

30 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on