Civil War Sites Advisory Commission

Battle Summaries

National Park Service


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Wilson's Creek

CWSAC Reference #: MO004

Other Names: Oak Hills

Preservation Priority: III.1 (Class A)

Location: Greene County and Christian County

Campaign: Operations to Control Missouri (1861)

Date(s): August 10, 1861

Principal Commanders: Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon and Maj. Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis [US]; Maj. Gen. Sterling Price, Missouri State Guard, and Brig. Gen. Ben McCulloch [CS]

Forces Engaged: Army of the West [US]; Missouri State Guard and McCulloch's Brigade [CS]

Estimated Casualties: 2,330 total (US 1,235; CS 1,095)

Description: Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon's Army of the West was camped at Springfield, Missouri, with Confederate troops under the commands of Brig. Gen. Ben McCulloch approaching. On August 9, both sides formulated plans to attack the other. About 5:00 am on the 10th, Lyon, in two columns commanded by himself and Col. Franz Sigel, attacked the Confederates on Wilson's Creek about 12 miles southwest of Springfield. Rebel cavalry received the first blow and fell back away from Bloody Hill. Confederate forces soon rushed up and stabilized their positions. The Confederates attacked the Union forces three times that day but failed to break through the Union line. Lyon was killed during the battle and Maj. Samuel D. Sturgis replaced him. Meanwhile, the Confederates had routed Sigel's column, south of Skegg's Branch. Following the third Confederate attack, which ended at 11:00 am, the Confederates withdrew. Sturgis, however, realized that his men were exhausted and his ammunition was low so he ordered a retreat to Springfield. The Confederates were too disorganized and ill-equipped to pursue. Wilson's Creek was a Confederate victory. This victory buoyed southern sympathizers in Missouri and served as a springboard for a bold thrust north that carried Price and his Missouri State Guard as far as Lexington. In late October, a rump convention, convened by Governor Claiborne Jackson, met in Neosho and passed an ordinance of secession. Wilson's Creek, the most significant 1861 battle in Missouri, gave the Confederates control of southwestern Missouri.

Result(s): Confederate victory

National Park Unit: Wilson's Creek National Battlefield

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Original Source: http://www2.cr.nps.gov/abpp/battles/mo004.htm

Last Updated: 2/26/1996



(Source: Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report: Battle Summaries, published by the National Park Service.)



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