Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 38.djvu/381
Wilson's Creek. 367
the final march before the expected battle when 1 a summer shower began to fall. The ammunition of the soldiers was ex- posed. Some of the men carried rudely-made cartridges in their pockets. The powder in the horns of the hunter recruits might get wet. General McCulloch saw this danger, and coun- termanded the order to march, and the soldiers were told to keep their powder dry. In an hour or two the rain had ceased, but the army remained in camp that afternoon in the Valley of Wilson's Creek, and many of the Missouri and Arkansas volun- teers molded bullets for their old deer guns.
General Lyon that afternoon decided to anticipate the attack of his enemy, and after dark marched down to Wilson Creek, reaching the pickets of the Southern Army about daylight. Gen- eral Sigel, commanding the flanking column of the Federal army, had started out of Springfield several hours in advance of General Lyon, and he was in position for the attack long before the Confederate camp began to stir. The Union commander's plan of battle was to attack the Southern forces in front, drive them back on General SigeFs flanking column, and thus, if pos- sible, bag the prey.
The battle began about sun-up on the front and rear of the Confederate camp. The surprise was almost complete, and fully half of the Southern soldiers were either in bed or preparing breakfast, when General Lyon's battery, commanded by Lieu- tenant Totten, afterward a famous artillery officer in the Union army, opened fire from the top of what is now known as "Bloody Hill" on the Confederate camp in the valley below.
There was some demoralization among a portion of the South- ern troops at first. There were a thousand or more of the new recruits that had no guns of any kind. That was a time, too, when a large number of Southern volunteers wanted to fight on horseback they thought. The cavalry service was very at- tractive for the cavalier spirit of the South, and fully half of General Price's State Guards saddled their horses when they took down their rifles from the old gunracks and started to join the army.
At Wilson's Creek these horses proved to be a great encum- brance to General Price, and he had to get his unarmed men out