August 9, 1861 Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyonís Union Troops were
camped at Springfield,
while a large Confederate force, under the command of Brigadier
General Ben McCulloch, were quickly approaching, making camp at
Wilsonís Creek about 12 miles southwest of
spent the evening formulating plans to attack the other on the
The Battle of Wilson's Creek, called Oak Hills by
Confederates, fought August 10, 1861, was a bitter struggle for
control of Missouri in the
first year. In fact it was the first major battle in the
West, and only the second major battle of the Civil War.
5:00 am on the 10th, Lyon, in two columns commanded by himself and
Colonel Franz Sigel, attacked the Confederates on Wilsonís Creek and
the Rebel cavalry fell back away from what would become known a Bloody
Hill. However, the Confederate forces soon rushed up and stabilized
their positions, attacking the Union forces three different times, but
failing to break through the Union line.
Lyon became the
first Union General killed in combat
during the battle and Major Samuel D. Sturgis replaced him.
third Confederate attack, which ended about 11:00 am, the Confederates
withdrew. However, Sturgis realized that his men were exhausted and
his ammunition was low, so he ordered a retreat to
Confederates were too disorganized and ill-equipped to pursue. This
Confederate victory buoyed southern sympathizers in
and served as a springboard for a bold thrust north that carried the
State Guard as far as Lexington. Wilsonís Creek, the most significant
1861 battle in
gave the Confederates control of southwestern
However, the loss was substantial with 1,317 Union and 1,222 Confederate casualties
(killed, wounded or captured).