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One thing was certain at the end of May 1861: The St. Louis Germans could not defeat the pro-secession governor of Missouri and his Confederate allies without help. Union General Nathaniel Lyon had organized them into an effective fighting force, but their numbers were too few. The Germans used their political clout and their powerful ally, Congressman Frank Blair, to appeal for help. Regiments being raised in Iowa and Kansas would soon be on their way to Missouri.
These reinforcements would reflect the changing face of America in the 1860s. One of the regiments, the First Iowa Infantry, had a company of Irish immigrants and three companies of Germans. One of the German companies carried a banner pledging to “Defend the Flag of Our Adopted Land.” The First Iowa had volunteers born in Canada, England, Scotland, Wales, the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Switzerland, and Norway.1
The ideological commitment of the Iowa Germans may have been demonstrated in what today would seem an odd ceremony. In late May, two companies of Germans marched to the home of a German family near where they trained. The family had an infant, and the Germans held a solemn baptism of the child to the cause of liberty. Lt. Theodore Guerlich performed a ceremony in which the baby, christened appropriately“Garibaldi,” was dedicated to “the Goddess of Liberty; to the defense of the liberty of the country it was born in, and to that of all oppressed humanity.”2
The First Kansas Infantry, from the newest state in the Union, was also surprisingly immigrant in character. Of those newcomers, 25 percent were Irish and 18 percent were Germans. Another 5 percent were immigrants from other countries including Mexico, Canada, England, Austria, Denmark, France, Holland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Wales.3
The diversity in the Kansas troops was not just ethnic. Among the Kansans in the Union force was believed to be at least one woman. Two years after the campaign in Missouri, a soldier recounted a strange discovery about one of the veterans of General Lyon’s army:
The 1st Kansas regiment, of which I have spoken before, is encamped near us. One of the members of that regiment, a sergeant, died in the hospital two weeks ago. After death his comrades discovered that their companion, by the side of whom they had marched and fought for almost two years, was a woman. You may imagine their surprise at the discovery. I went to the hospital and saw the body after it was prepared for burial, and made some inquiries about her. She was of rather more than average size for a woman, with rather strongly marked features, so that with the aid of a man’s attire she had quite a masculine look. She enlisted in the regiment after they went to Missouri and consequently they knew nothing of her early history. She probably served under an assumed name. She was in the battle of Springfield, where Gen. Lyon was killed, and has fought in a dozen battles and skirmishes. She always sustained an excellent reputation, both as a man and a soldier, and the men all speak of her in terms of respect and admiration. She was as brave as a lion in battle and never flinched from any duty or hardships that fell to her lot…Poor girl! She was worthy of a better fate.4
Lyon’s Army of the West would have an indelibly immigrant stamp. Of the seven full Union infantry regiments that would play a leading role in the struggle for Missouri in 1861, six would have either outright immigrant majorities or significant immigrant minorities. The soldiers who marched in the ranks would come from at least 17 different nationalities.
The army’s leadership would reflect this diversity, as well. Two of the four top Union commanders were born abroad. Irish-born Capt. Thomas Sweeny was so popular among the Germans that they had elected him “Brigadier General” of Missouri Volunteers. Of Sweeny, one Iowan said, “we all liked him very much. He was a typical Irishman, full of fun, strict in discipline, and with a kind word for everybody.” The fact that he was missing an arm, given in sacrifice to his adopted country in the Mexican War, only endeared him more to his men.5
Colonel Franz Sigel, who led democratic forces in Germany during the1848 Revolution, was a hero to St. Louis’s Germans before he ever arrived in the city. After just a few years in the city, he was made superintendent of schools. His Prussian military education and the fact that he spoke five languages made him a natural choice for command in an army of immigrant volunteers.6
In June 1861, Confederate forces were also preparing for conflict. Gov. Claiborne Jackson was in the state capital trying to raise a pro-Southern army, as well as petitioning for supplies from the Confederate government. A small Confederate army made up primarily of men from Texas and Louisiana was moving towards the border between Missouri and Arkansas where they were joined by Arkansas Confederates.
Lyon, who desperately wanted to knock out Gov. Jackson’s force before the governor could unite with the Confederates in Arkansas, decided on an audacious plan that involved movements from the far north of Missouri to its southern border and from the Mississippi River to the Indian Territories in the west. He set out with just 2,000 Missouri Volunteers and regular army troops in steamboats from St. Louis to the state capital at Jefferson City. There he essentially staged a coup, driving the governor and pro-Southern legislators out of the seat of government. Meanwhile he sent a small army under Sweeny and Sigel southwest by rail to the town of Rolla, the end of the line. These troops then marched west to try to prevent the Missouri secessionists from linking up with the Confederates along the Arkansas border.7
The campaign started on June 13, 1861. By June 15, the Unionists had captured the capital. Two days later they fought the remaining organized forces of Gov. Jackson in Boonville and defeated them. While the fight was little more than a skirmish, it had a decisive effect. As Gov. Jackson’s aide would write, by taking the plantation-rich area along the Missouri River out of the Confederacy, Lyon “dealt a stunning blow to the Southern-rights men of Missouri.”8
In just four days Lyon and his men had essentially deposed the pro-Southern government, driven Jackson’s militia out of the region, and opened the Missouri River for the Union.
Map of Union Gen. Nathaniel Lyon’s Missouri River Campaign.
A. After securing St. Louis for the Union in May 1861, General Lyon embarked 2,000 mostly-German troops in St. Louis on steamboats on June 13, 1861. B. The Union forces steamed west on the Missouri River. C. In the state capital of Jefferson City, they forced Missouri’s pro-Southern governor Claiborne Jackson to evacuate. Union troops moved into the capital on June 15. D. Gov. Jackson tried to rally his armed supporters in Boonville, but they were quickly overwhelmed by the larger Union army on June 17 and forced to flee south.
The move by the Union forces had to be defended by the German community. The immigrants were, after all, attacking the government of the State of Missouri. The Westliche Post, one of the St. Louis German-language papers, explained the action:
The governor and the legislature lose their official character when they oppose the legitimate power of the Union…The people have elected them to administer the state under the federal government and to [make] laws under the United States Constitution… When they misuse their offices…to overthrow the Constitution [and] shatter the federation…then they are simply private persons no better than…rowdies.9
Sweeny and Sigel’s men moved southwest with rapidity equal to that of Lyon. A week after the Union victory at Boonville, Sweeny and Sigel had secured Springfield, the major city in the state’s southwest. Sigel attempted to cut off Governor Jackson’s men as they fled south from Boonville, but he was met by a large Confederate army that outnumbered his troops by nearly four to one. He decided to attack anyway at Carthage, Missouri, but he could not stop the three pro-Confederate armies from uniting.10
Sigel embarked on a fighting withdrawal back to Springfield where he and Sweeny prepared to defend the city while they waited for Lyon to meet up with the Iowans and Kansans coming to help fight the Confederates. Lyon, worried that Springfield would soon be overrun, led this now united army south to the city by forced marches. His men walked 50 miles in 30 hours while temperatures soared into the high 90s. One soldier wrote that of 97 men in his company, only 27 were able to keep up with Lyon’s pace. “Walking in a hot sun, carrying a ten pound musket, equipment, belts, cross belts, cartridge box…haversack, canteen…is a trial of endurance,” the soldier wrote. Lyon reached Springfield on July 19.11
A. When Lyon set out by boat to capture the Missouri capital on June 13, 1861, he sent a column of approximately 2,000 Union troops southwest from St. Louis under Sweeny and Sigel. B. They quickly traveled by rail to Rolla, Missouri, where the train line ended. C. They marched from there to Springfield, Missouri, arriving on June 24. Meanwhile, Lyon, with 2,300 men, left Boonville on July 3. He headed south (blue arrows) where he united his force with volunteers from Kansas and Regular army troops numbering an additional 2,500 men. He arrived at Springfield on July 19. Pro-Southern forces gathered southwest of Springfield, almost on the border with Arkansas (white box).
With a growing Confederate army just a few days march away from Springfield, Lyon felt himself abandoned by the authorities in Washington. His men had not been paid and supplies were running out. Many of the volunteers had signed up for just 90 days of service and their enlistments were ending. In fact, 2,000 volunteers would leave the service between their arrival in Springfield and the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. Lyon, although heavily outnumbered, felt he had to try to disable the Southern army quickly, or else the Confederates would be unleashed on the Union-supporters in southern Missouri.12
Lyon was concerned about the safety of Missouri’s Unionists, since small villages and rural districts often included both Unionists and Secessionists. Rival armed groups were confronting each other regularly, and Unionist refugees were streaming out of areas where pro-Confederate partisans had gained control. German immigrant Conrad Weinrich described the civil war in his small town of New Melle, 40 miles west of St. Louis. He was a member of the Union Guard, a local mostly German company:
Last Saturday 400 men from the Union Guard assembled…[and were drilling] with U.S. weapons and then the fire eaters [Confederates] came and wanted to take them away, but they got a hot Breakfast instead with Muskets, Rifles, and Shotguns…Some 4-500 secessionists have gotten together in Lincoln County and are after our hides, but…we are ready any time.13
Lyon’s aide wrote later that the general was “oppressed with…anxiety for the cause, and with sympathy for the Union people in that section, when he should retreat and leave [them] to their fate.”14 Fears of Confederate atrocities against civilians left without defenses were magnified when delegations of Springfield residents met with Lyon to beg him to stay and fight.
By the beginning of August, the Confederate forces had swelled to more than 10,000 men, double the strength of Lyon’s army. The Confederates could not take immediate advantage of their numerical advantage, though, because their leaders were divided. Gov. Jackson’s Missouri force was commanded by Gen. Sterling Price, while the rest of the Confederates were under Gen. Ben McCulloch. The two fought for weeks over who was in charge, and they disagreed on strategy, with Price wanting to re-establish Jackson’s power as governor, while McCulloch saw his role as the defense of Arkansas and the Indian Territory, an area that is today the state of Oklahoma.15
McCulloch had another problem. Missouri was officially neutral in the still-young Civil War. As such, his operations there could be construed as an invasion by the Confederacy, and thereby a violation of a cherished “state’s right.” It is clear that McCulloch was reluctantly drawn into the state by the dire prospect of Gov. Jackson’s army being destroyed by Lyon.16
The Southern soldiers under McCulloch were overwhelmingly native-born white men, some of whom expressed hatred for the “black republican dutch of Missouri,” whom they claimed they could “whip five to one.” But there were also some units that did not fit that mold. Some of the Louisiana companies included Irish immigrants. In addition, there was a small group of pro-slavery Cherokee under Stand Watie. The Cherokee shared commonalities with their white comrades – they had absorbed Southern institutions, including Protestant Christianity and the enslavement of blacks, when they lived in their ancestral lands in Georgia and the Carolinas. When President Andrew Jackson forced their removal to Oklahoma, they carried slaves with them on the Trail of Tears. As with the Irish, Cherokee would fight on both sides of the war.17
On August 2, the Confederates began to probe the Union defenses. A large force of Gov. Jackson’s Missouri cavalry ran into a smaller Union force and within minutes was completely routed by the Unionists. This encouraged the outnumbered Unionists and added to Gen. McCulloch’s contempt for the Missouri troops under Price.18
Governor Jackson’s aide would later write that McCulloch “saw in the Missourians nothing but a half armed mob, led by an ignorant old militia general.”19
While they were buoyed by the easy victory, the Union officers realized that it was only a matter of time before the Confederates overwhelmed their position. Having received no aid from the Union headquarters at St. Louis, now commanded by Gen. John C. Fremont, Lyon “repeatedly expressed himself as having been abandoned by his superiors”, according to his aide.20 Lyon called his officers together to decide what to do.
At the meeting, most of Lyon’s officers said that reason dictated a retreat. The Unionists were outnumbered and running short of supplies. But Captain Sweeny dramatically stood for defending Springfield. “Let us eat the last bit of mule flesh and fire the last cartridge before we think of retreat,” He said. Lyon decided to stay and fight.21
While most commanders, given the disparity in forces, would have tried to fortify Springfield to fight a defensive battle, Lyon, ever aggressive, decided to attack. This would have been a risky move to begin with, but it was made all the more hazardous by a proposal of Franz Sigel. The German officer said that Lyon should split his force, with 4,300 soldiers under Lyon attacking from the north and 1,100 under Sigel hitting the Confederates from the southeast. Sweeny objected to the plan – a smaller army never divides itself in the face of an enemy – but an increasingly desperate Lyon thought it would create such confusion among the Confederates that it might work.22
Even after the decision to attack, Lyon still expressed doubts about what course he should take. In a letter to his superior Gen. John Fremont, written just hours before he set out to assault the confederate camp, Lyon voiced his concerns. “I find my position extremely embarrassing, and am at present unable to determine whether I shall be able to maintain my ground or be forced to retire,” he wrote.23
Lyon’s aide, Major John Schofield, echoed the general’s sentiments two weeks later:
General Lyon…frequently expressed the most gloomy forebodings for the future. He saw clearly the inevitable necessity of either [retreating], and abandoning to the enemy all the southwest portion of Missouri and Southern Kansas, or of risking utter destruction of his little army…in a desperate engagement with a vastly superior force of the enemy.24
On August 9, the Confederates were camped on both sides of Wilson’s Creek, just 10 miles from Springfield. In the center of their camp was a rise of ground that would be henceforward called “Bloody Hill.” The Confederate leaders were still feuding, and from the way events unfolded the next day, they were clearly unprepared for an attack by the Union army.
Sigel’s Union troops began moving that night. Shortly before midnight, they were allowed a few hours of rest, but they were on the move again at 2am. His troops kept absolute silence and the Confederates were apparently unaware that he was nearing their lines. The leading history of the battle recounts the maneuver:
Sigel’s accomplishment was stunning…Despite darkness and unfamiliar terrain, Sigel had moved his force to a point where he was in a position to inflict terrible harm on the enemy. Two drawbacks remained, however. He was severely outnumbered and had no means of communicating with Lyon.25
Modern view of Wilson’s Creek (U.S. National Park Service)
Lyon’s night move was similarly successful. His men put blankets on the hooves of their horses to muffle the sounds of their movements. By 5:30am they had crept up on a far superior force without being noticed at all. When they launched their attack, the Confederates were completely surprised and ran off. By 6:30am, Lyon had reached Bloody Hill in the center of the rebel camp.26
When Sigel heard the firing from Lyon’s men, he ordered his own assault to begin against the 1,500 men in the Confederate cavalry camp. Most of the shocked Southerners simply fled. Sigel was now in control of their supplies and many of their weapons.
At this point, Sigel had succeeded beyond all expectation. The leading history of the battle describes the tactical victory:
Judged strictly as a maneuver, Sigel’s march from Springfield…was a magnificent accomplishment, equal to any similar feat in previous American history. He had moved a great distance in almost complete secrecy, opening his surprise attack at exactly the moment intended. The effect on his enemy was devastating…[H]e had broken the Southerners’ attempt to rally, placing his own force squarely on their line of communications.27
While Sigel’s performance until now had been magnificent, he failed to use the minutes after the flight of the Confederate cavalry to either press the attack on the confused enemy or properly prepare to defend against a counter-attack by the thousands of Confederates still in the area. When the Confederate leaders rounded up a Louisiana regiment to push Sigel back, Sigel was further handicapped when Dr. Samuel Melcher, attached to Sigel’s unit, mistakenly told him that Lyon’s men “were coming up the road and that we must not fire.”
Sigel found himself in a tenuous position, as he later wrote:
So uncertain was I in regard to the character of the approaching troops…that I did not trust to my own eyes, but sent Corporal Tod, of the 3rd Missouri, forward to challenge them. He challenged as ordered, but was immediately shot and killed. I instantly ordered the infantry and artillery to fire. But it was too late…the infantry, as though paralyzed, did not fire.
Within minutes, Sigel wrote, his force was a scene of “panic” and his men began to flee “in disorder.”28
Sigel’s column was essentially out of action as a cohesive fighting force. He would risk his life trying to rally his men and reorganize them, but by 9am they were no longer part of the main battle.
Third Louisiana attacking Sigel’s Brigade (U.S. National Park Service)
In his defense, Sigel was not the only officer to mistake foe for friend that day. Since each unit wore a uniform unique to itself in the early days of the war, many Union troops wore gray, the color of the Confederacy, and many Confederate troops wore Union blue.
One of the strangest such incidents occurred on Bloody Hill, where three Union companies charged a Confederate position, driving off the enemy. Gen. Lyon called out for them to fall back after their success, which two did. One company, the Leavenworth Light Infantry Company of Kansas under Capt. Powell Clayton, did not hear the order and continued marching into the heart of the Confederate camp in search of the enemy.
When a unit wearing gray uniforms approached [on his left] he assumed it was [a Union regiment]. Actually, it was Clarkson’s Fifth Missouri [a Confederate unit]…sent to counterattack. Clarkson, in turn, took it for granted that the…Kansans were fellow [Confederates]. When he asked Clayton the direction of the enemy, the Federal captain pointed south-west. The two opposing units then formed a single line and blithely marched off in that direction.”29
As Sigel’s men were fleeing back to Springfield, Lyon was killed leading his men on Bloody Hill. Though their situation seemed hopeless, the remaining Union forces fought on. Major S.D. Sturgis, who assumed command after Lyon’s death, wrote later that “General Sweeny…that gallant officer” was “especially distinguished by his zeal in rallying broken fragments of various regiments (even after receiving a severe wound in the leg), and leading them into the hottest of the fight.”30
The Death of General Lyon.
By 11:30am the Union force on the hill – now alone – had beaten off three Confederate charges. They were without their leader and running low on ammunition. With all of the other problems confronting the Union officers who were still alive on Bloody Hill, they were most vexed by the question of what had happened to the other Union force that morning.
Major John Schofield recalled that everyone was asking for Sigel’s whereabouts. “The question was a very perplexing one,” he wrote. “Nothing had been heard from Sigel for a long time. No one could tell where he was or what he was doing.”31
There were indications that Sigel may have destroyed a significant part of the Confederate army; therefore, to withdraw could mean throwing away a victory. On the other hand, Sigel might be pinned down and a retreat would result in his destruction. Sigel’s inability to communicate with the force on Bloody Hill prolonged the agony of the men there to the extremes of endurance.
The surviving officers finally decided to pull out. They successfully led a fighting withdrawal from the hill and Lyon’s force arrived back in Springfield at 5pm, nearly 24 hours after they had begun their movement.32
During the pullback from Bloody Hill, the Union troops worried that they would have to leave one of their valuable cannons behind. Most of the horses that dragged the big guns were dead. German immigrant Nicolas Bouquet of the First Iowa Infantry Regiment and another man, Lorenzo Immell, ran onto the field of battle to catch a loose horse, bring it back to the cannon, and save the artillery piece. For this, both men were awarded the Medal of Honor for one of the earliest actions that led to the granting of that award.33
Period map shows Union troops (blue) under Lyon attacking at to left part of map with Sigel’s small force at the bottom of the map. Confederate troops are in red.
The Union army had lost one-in-four of its men killed, wounded, or missing. Two primarily German regiments had the highest casualty rate. The First Missouri lost 38 percent of its men, and the Second Missouri lost 36 percent. Both had been with Lyon on Bloody Hill.34
While the battle itself was a defeat for the Union forces, Lyon was viewed as a martyr and his men were hailed as heroes. In Dubuque, Iowa, 10,000 people turned out to greet the two companies from the city who served at Wilson’s Creek. Speeches were delivered in English and German. In Davenport, Iowa, the welcome of the city’s German Volunteers was organized by the German women there, who invited the native-born to participate as well.35
In St. Louis, too, German women organized the reception of their men to the city. They elected one of their own, Frau Dr. Doehn, to give the keynote address to the soldiers, the dignitaries, and the public. “The eye of the woman, that has shed many a quiet tear for her distant spouse, has now dried [upon their return],” she said.
But while the women wished they could tell the men “lay down your weapons and rest in the family circle and recover from the terrors and deprivations of war,” they all knew that this was just a temporary reunion, Doehn said. “The country that has become our new homeland is threatened by the enemy as at no other time and it demands that each of its sons serves with the whole of his strength.” With the secessionists bent on the destruction of the German community, she said that the men were no longer simply fighting for an ideal, they were now “fighting for your existence.”
Of the new commander General Fremont, she spoke glowingly: “[He] knows how to value the German contributions, he knows in them the true sons of a free America”—as opposed to native-born traitors.36
Frau Dr. Doehn was right in her prediction. The men would be back on the battlefield fighting for the existence of the German community in Missouri. The war would take on a particularly vicious character on both sides as ethnic tensions fostered communal strife.
As for Franz Sigel, his deficiencies during the battle, and his poor behavior the next several days when he led what some of the officers considered a poorly organized and anarchic retreat back towards St. Louis, should have led his superiors to question his fitness for independent command. Lyon’s old aide, now-Brigadier General John Schofield, wrote an assessment of Sigel’s performance for the new commander of the Department of Missouri:
General Sigel, in point of theoretical education, is far above the average of commanders in this country. He has studied with great care the science of strategy…and seems familiar with the duties of the staff, but in tactics…and discipline he is greatly deficient…While I…see in him many fine qualities, I would do less than my duty did I not enter my protest against the appointment to high command in the Army of a man who, whatever may be his merits, I know cannot have the confidence of the troops he is to command.37
While Lyon’s bold moves had not won the war in Missouri, he and his army of native-born and immigrants had accomplished more than anyone in Washington could have hoped. An aide to pro-Confederate Gov. Jackson gave this assessment of the achievements of his enemies under Lyon:
The capture of Camp Jackson had disarmed the [pro-Southern militia] and completed the conquest of St. Louis…The advance on Jefferson City had put the State government to flight and taken away from the Governor the prestige which sustains established and acknowledged authority. The dispersion of [pro-Southern] volunteers that were flocking to Boonville…extended Lyon’s conquest to the borders of Iowa [and] made the Missouri River a Federal Highway from its source to its mouth.38
Gen. Fremont would write of Lyon that he “had saved Missouri from secession.”39
While other federal commanders dawdled indecisively in 1861, Lyon’s men had covered hundreds of miles on foot, roving throughout the state. They had conducted the first successful amphibious operation of the war and had made the first strategic use of the railroads. They had fought major battles and numerous skirmishes against forces that at times badly outnumbered them and had done so with little support from Washington. Native-born and immigrant volunteers alike had been forged into a fighting force that could challenge the slave-holding men who had run Missouri since it first became a state.40
Resources for Understanding the Battle of Wilson’s Creek
Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press (2000)
This is an excellent work on the battle. Not only does it have an engaging battle narrative, it also accurately describes the role the communities that sent their young men to the battlefield played in the Wilson’s Creek campaign. Most importantly for me, the authors do a terrific job of describing the immigrant contribution to both armies. This book is a model of modern Civil War battle studies.
The U.S. National Park Service site has a good description of the battle and its impact on the local civilians.
The Civil War Trust has an excellent map explaining the battle.
Additional resources can be found at the website of the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation
1. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 49.
2. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 56.
3. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 64.
4. The source can be accessed here.
5. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 126. *Sweeny’s “promotion by acclaim” was not legally recognized.
6. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 24-26.
7. “The Wilson’s Creek Staff Ride” by Major George E Knapp, U.S. Army Combat Studies Institute (1993) Chapter 1.
8. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War Vol. 1, “The First Year of the War in Missouri” by Col. Thomas L. Snead, p. 267
9. Germans For a Free Missouri: Translations from the St. Louis Radical Press 1857-1862 by Steven Rowan, University of Missouri Press (1983) p. 221, Translation of Westliche Post, May 15, 1861.
10. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 103-104.
11. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 104.
12. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 131-133.
13. Germans in the Civil War: The Letters They Wrote Home Ed. by Walter Kamphoefner and Wolfgang Helbich, University of North Carolina Press (2006) p. 344. Conrad Weinrich to brother and sister, July 26, 1861.
14. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War Vol. 1, “Wilson’s Creek and the Death of Lyon” by William Wherry, p. 293.
15. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 111.
16. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 100.
17. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 92.
18. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 140.
19. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War Vol. 1, “The First Year of the War in Missouri” by Col. Thomas L. Snead, p. 270.
20. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War Vol. 1, “Wilson’s Creek and the Death of Lyon” by William Wherry, p. 293.
21. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 172.
22. Damned Yankee: The Life of General Nathaniel Lyon by Christopher Phillips, University of Missouri Press (1990) pp. 247-248; Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 174.
23. ORR Series 1 Vol. 3, Lyon letter to Fremont, August 9, 1861, p. 57.
24. ORR Series 1 Vol. 3, Report of Major John Schofield, August 20, 1861, p. 58.
25. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 192.
26. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 198.
27. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 223-226, 231.
28. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War Vol. 1, “The Flanking Column at Wilson’s Creek” by Franz Sigel, p. 305. In his report, Maj. S.D. Sturgis alleges that when the Confederates fled during Sigel’s initial attack “many of Sigel’s men…turned to plunder, and thus permitted the enemy to return.” See: OR Series 1 Vol. 3 p. 71 Report of Major S.D. Sturgis August 20, 1861. In the months after the battle, Sigel’s failure was sometimes depicted as the “Germans running” at Wilson’s Creek. While Sigel’s men were overwhelmingly German immigrants, United States Regular cavalrymen and dragoons under native-born Captain Carr, assigned to Sigel’s wing, also ran. It should also be recalled, as well, that many of the men who fought for hours on Bloody Hill with Lyon were also German, including one German immigrant whose heroism was recognized with the Medal of Honor.
29. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 242-244.
30. ORR Series 1 Vol. 3 p. 70 report of Major S.D. Sturgis August 20, 1861.
31. ORR Series 1 Vol. 3. P. 62 Report of Maj. Schofield August 20, 1861.
32. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 283.
33. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 332. Nicolas Bouquet was a private in Company D, 1st Iowa. The company was from Burlington, Iowa. He was 18 years old at the time of the battle. His citation: “Bouquet voluntarily left the line of battle and exposed himself to imminent danger from a heavy fire from the enemy in assisting in the capture of a riderless horse, at large between the lines, and hitching him to a disabled gun, thus saving the gun from capture.” In 1862, Bouquet joined the 25th Iowa, serving in that unit until the end of the war and participating in the capture of Vicksburg, the capture of Atlanta, Sherman’s March to the Sea, and the pursuit of Johnson’s army through the Carolinas in 1865. The Medal of Honor was created during the Civil War. Although his actions were among the first that led to the awarding of the Medal, he did not actually receive it until 1897, more than 35 years later. See: “The Wilson’s Creek Staff Ride” by George Knapp, Combat Studies Institute (1993) Appendix B.
34. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 284.
35. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard Hatcher, University of North Carolina Press, p. 325.
36. Germans for a Free Missouri: Translations From the St. Louis Radical Press 1857-1862 p. 278-279, Translation of article from Anzeiger des Westens, August 28, 1861.
37. ORR Series 1 Vol. 3 p. 95 Brig. Gen. John Schofield to Maj. Gen. Halleck Feb. 13, 1862.
38. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War Vol. 1, “The First Year of the War in Missouri” by Col. Thomas L. Snead, p. 268.
39. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War Vol. 1, “In Command in Missouri” by John Fremont, p. 282.
40. After the battle, there were numerous judgments cast on who was responsible for the defeat at Wilson’s Creek. The Chicago Tribune editorialized that Secretary of War Simon Cameron “is mainly, if not wholly, responsible for the disaster in Missouri” by neglecting “to send the reinforcements that the gallant Lyon begged.” See: Chicago Tribune, August 16, 1861, p. 2. Kansas Senator James Lane believed that Fremont’s failure to send reinforcements or supplies when he arrived in St. Louis during the last week of July were behind the defeat. He introduced an amendment to a Senate bill authorizing an investigation, but it failed. See:Over Lincoln’s Shoulder: The committee on the Conduct of the War by Bruce Tap, University of Kansas Press (1998) p. 23. Obviously, the decision by Lyon to fight against superior odds should have been examined, but his status as a martyr made reasonable inquiry into his decisions impossible.
The Immigrants’ Civil War is a series that examines the role of immigrants in our bloodiest war. Articles will appear twice monthly between 2011 and 2017. Here are the articles we have published so far:
1. Immigrant America on the Eve of the Civil War – Take a swing around the United States and see where immigrants were coming from and where they were living in 1861.
2. 1848: The Year that Created Immigrant America – Revolutions in Europe, famine and oppression in Ireland, and the end of the Mexican War made 1848 a key year in American immigration history.
3. Carl Schurz: From German Radical to American Abolitionist– A teenaged revolutionary of 1848, Carl Schurz brought his passion for equality with him to America.
5. …And the War Came to Immigrant America -The impact of the firing on Fort Sumter on America’s immigrants
10. Immigrant Day Laborers Help Build the First Fort to Protect Washington-The Fighting 69th use their construction skills.
12. Immigrants Rush to Join the Union Army-Why?– The reasons immigrants gave for enlisting early in the war.
17. Immigrant Regiments on Opposite Banks of Bull Run -The Fighting 69th and the Louisiana Tigers
39. A German Regiment Fights for “Freedom and Justice” at Shiloh-The 32nd Indiana under Col. August Willich.
40. The Know Nothing Colonel and the Irish Soldier Confronting slavery and bigotry.
43. Union Leader Ben Butler Seeks Support in New Orleans-When General Ben Butler took command in New Orleans in 1862, it was a Union outpost surrounded by Confederates. Butler drew on his experience as a pro-immigrant politician to win over the city’s Irish and Germans.
49. The Irish Brigade Moves Towards Richmond-The Irish brigade in the Peninsula Campaign from March 17 to June 2, 1862.
50. Peninsula Emancipation: Irish Soldiers Take Steps on the Road to Freedom-The Irish Brigade and Irish soldiers from Boston free slaves along the march to Richmond.
54. Making Immigrant Soldiers into Citizens-Congress changed the immigration laws to meet the needs of a nation at war.
Immigration Vacation -Civil War Sites