Monday, August 8, 2011

August 9, 1861 (Friday): Lyons Marches On Wilson's Creek

General John C. Fremont

Report of Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon, U. S. Army, commanding Army of the West, of Operations August 5-9.

                                                            SPRINGIELD, Mo., August 9, 1861.
   GENERAL:  I have just received your note of the 6th instant by special messenger.
   I retired to this place, as I have before informed you, reaching here on the 5th.  The enemy followed to within 10 miles of here.  He has taken a strong position, and is recruiting his supplies of horses, mules, and provisions by foraging into the surrounding country, his large force of mounted men enabling him to do this without much annoyance from me.  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.  I can resist any attack from the front, but if the enemy move to surround me, I must retire.  I shall hold my ground as long as possible, though I may, without knowing how far, endanger the safety of my entire force, with its valuable material, being induced by the important considerations involved to take this step.  The enemy yesterday made a show of force about five miles distant, and has doubtless a purpose of making an attack upon me.
                                                                                    N. LYON,
                                    Brigadier-General, Commanding S. W. Expedition.
Maj. Gen. J. C. FREMONT,
            Commanding Department of the West

Series I., Vol. 3, Part 1, Page 57

Lyon’s mood on the eve of the battle of Wilson’s Creek is reflected in this message to Fremont.  Fremont, a famous explorer and, in 1856, first Republican Party presidential candidate had done little to support Lyon during his campaign.  Lyon’s supplies were low and his force was frustrated by the Confederate cavalry.  But he had managed to approach McCulloch’s camp in a rain storm without being detected and was ready to strike a blow.  Lyon’s force was divided between Franz Sigel and Lyon with a plan to envelop the Confederate flanks.  The next day would prove to be Lyon’s last, and his fears not unfounded.

No comments:

Post a Comment