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Civil War Round Table of Arkansas

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Our 45th Year 
FOR THE MEETING TUESDAY, November 25, 2008

Meets Fourth Tuesday; January-November
Founded March 1964
 

Second Presbyterian Church

600 Pleasant Valley Drive

Little Rock 
Program at 7 p.m. 
Online:  www.civilwarbuff.org
Rick Meadows, President 

RMeadows@aaamissouri.com / arcivilwarbuff@gmail.com 
Dues $20 Per Year
VISITORS WELCOME! 

VISIT THE BATTLEFIELDS WHEN YOU CAN...
WHILE YOU CAN

 

Connie Langum

and

The Battle of Wilson’s Creek 
 
 
 

Connie Langum, the historian at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield will bring our program Tuesday, November 25th. The Battle of Wilson's Creek (called Oak Hills by the Southerners) was fought ten miles southwest of Springfield, Missouri on August 10, 1861. Named for the stream that crosses the area where the battle took place, it was a bitter struggle between Union and Southern forces for control of Missouri in the first year of the Civil War. 
 

Langum received her Masters in Arts in 1991 and began her career with the National Park Service. Beginning her career as the Midwest Coordinator for the American Battlefield Protection Program, Langum transferred to Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in 1994 as park historian.   
 

A frequent speaker for Civil War Roundtables, Langum served as a tour guide in April for the Annual Conference of the Civil War Presentation Trust in Springfield, Missouri.

Langum and her husband, Rick, have a daughter, Madeline. 
 

The meeting will be held at 7:00 P.M. at the Second Presbyterian Church

at 600 Pleasant Valley Drive in Little Rock.  
 

Hope to see you Tuesday night with Connie Langum! 
 

Rick Meadows, President

 

 
 

The Battle of Wilson's Creek
I have found 2 books to be excellent resources:

Wilson’s Creek, the Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men Who Fought It, by William Piston and Richard Hatcher, (2000). Also, Ed Bearss’, The Battle of Wilson’s Creek. I have the 4th edition (1992)

Thank you to the National Park Service for the following information about The Battle of Wilson's Creek.

Border State Politics

When the Civil War began in 1861, Missouri's allegiance was of vital concern to the federal government. The state's strategic position on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and its abundant manpower and natural resources made it imperative that she remain loyal to the Union. Most Missourians desired neutrality, but many, including the governor, Claiborne Fox Jackson, held strong Southern sympathies and planned to cooperate with the Confederacy in its bid for independence.

When President Lincoln called for troops to put down the rebellion, Missouri was asked to supply four regiments. Governor Jackson refused the request and ordered State military units to muster at Camp Jackson outside Saint Louis and prepare to seize the U.S. arsenal in that city. They had not, however, counted on the resourcefulness of the arsenal's commander, Captain Nathaniel Lyon.

Learning of the governor's intentions, Lyon had most of the weapons moved secretly to Illinois. On May 10 he marched 7,000 men out to Camp Jackson and forced its surrender. In June, after a futile meeting with Governor Jackson to resolve their differences, Lyon (now a brigadier general) led an army up the Missouri River and captured the state capital at Jefferson City. After an unsuccessful stand at Boonville a few miles upstream, Governor Jackson retreated to southwest Missouri with elements of the State Guard.

Why Wilson's Creek?

After installing a pro-Union state government and picking up reinforcements, Lyon moved toward southwest Missouri. By July 13, 1861, he was encamped at Springfield with about 6,000 soldiers, consisting of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Missouri Infantry, the 1st Iowa Infantry, the 1st and 2nd Kansas Infantry, several companies of Regular Army infantry and cavalry, and three batteries of artillery.
Meanwhile, 75 miles southwest of Springfield, Major General Sterling Price, commanding the Missouri State Guard, had been busy drilling the 5,200 soldiers in his charge. By the end of July, when troops under Generals Ben McCulloch and N. Bart Pearce rendezvoused with Price, the total Southern "coalition" force (a mixture of Confederate troops and state forces) exceeded 12,000 men. On July 31, after formulating plans to capture Lyon's army and regain control of the state, Price, McCulloch, and Pearce marched northeast to attack the Federals. Lyon, hoping to surprise the Confederates, marched from Springfield on August 1. The next day the Union troops mauled the Southern vanguard at Dug Springs. Lyon, discovering he was outnumbered, ordered a withdrawal to Springfield. The Confederates followed and by August 6 were encamped near Wilson's Creek.

The Battle

Despite inferior numbers, Lyon decided to attack the enemy encampment. Leaving about 1,000 men behind to guard his supplies, the Federal commander led 5,400 soldiers out of Springfield on the night of August 9. Lyon's plan called for 1,200 men under Colonel Franz Sigel to swing wide to the south, flanking the Southern right, while the main body of troops struck from the north. Success hinged on the element of surprise.

Ironically, the Southern leaders also planned a surprise attack on the Federals, but rain on the night of the 9th caused McCulloch (who was now in overall command) to cancel the operation. On the morning of the 10th, Lyon's attack caught the Southerners off guard, driving them back. Forging rapidly ahead, the Federals occupied the crest of a ridge subsequently called "Bloody Hill." Nearby, the Pulaski Arkansas Battery opened fire, checking the advance. This gave Price's infantry time to form a battle line on the hill's south slope.

For more than five hours the battle raged on Bloody Hill. Fighting was often at close quarters, and the tide turned with each charge and countercharge. Sigel's flanking maneuver, initially successful, collapsed altogether when McCulloch's men counterattacked at the Sharp Farm. Defeated, Sigel and his troops fled.

On Bloody Hill, at about 9:30 a.m., General Lyon, who had been wounded twice already, was killed while positioning his troops. Major Samuel Sturgis assumed command of the Federal forces and by 11 a.m., with ammunition nearly exhausted, ordered a withdrawal to Springfield. The Battle of Wilson's Creek was over. Losses were heavy and about equal on both sides--1,317 for the Federals, 1,222 for the Southerners. Though victorious on the field, the Southerners were not able to pursue the Union forces. Lyon lost the battle and his life, but he achieved his goal: Missouri remained under Union control.

The Civil War in Missouri

The Battle of Wilson's Creek marked the beginning of the Civil War in Missouri. For the next three and a half years, the state was the scene of savage and fierce fighting, mostly guerrilla warfare, with small bands of mounted raiders destroying anything military or civilian that could aid the enemy. By the time the conflict ended in the spring of 1865, Missouri had witnessed so many battles and skirmishes that it ranks as the third most fought-over state in the nation.

The Confederates made only two large-scale attempts to break the Federal hold on Missouri, both of them directed by Sterling Price. Shortly after Wilson's Creek, Price led his Missouri State Guard north and captured the Union garrison at Lexington. He and his troops remained in the state until early 1862, when a Federal army drove them into Arkansas. The subsequent Union victory at the Battle of Pea Ridge in March kept large numbers of Confederate military forces out of Missouri for more than two years.

In September 1864 Price returned to Missouri with an army of some 12,000 men. By the time his campaign ended, he had marched nearly 1,500 miles, fought 43 battles or skirmishes, and destroyed an estimated $10 million worth of property. Yet the campaign ended in disaster. At Westport on October 23, Price was soundly defeated in the largest battle fought west of the Mississippi and forced to retreat south. His withdrawal ended organized Confederate military operations in Missouri.



Wilson's Creek Commanders




Benjamin McCulloch commanded the Southern forces at Wilson's Creek. Though possessing no formal military training, he was a veteran Indian fighter, participated in the Texas War of Independence, and commanded a company of Texas Rangers in the Mexican War. After serving as sheriff of Sacramento during the California Gold Rush, he was appointed U. S. marshal for the eastern district of Texas. McCulloch rose from a colonel of state troops in February 1861 to a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army in May that same year. Seven months after the Southern victory at Wilson's Creek, he died while leading a division of troops at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, March 7, 1862.





Brigadier General Nathaniel n, commander of the Federal forces at Wilson's Creek, was an 1841 graduate of the United States Military Academy and a veteran of the Seminole and Mexican Wars. He had also served at various posts on the frontier before being assigned to command the garrison at the U. S. arsenal in St. Louis in 1861. An ardent Unionist and a strong supporter of Lincoln and the Republican Party, Lyon worked closely with Missouri Congressman Francis P. Blair, Jr., to prevent the state from seceding from the Union. His death at Wilson's Creek at the age of 43 made him the first Union general to die in battle during the Civil War.



Major General Sterling Price commanded the Missouri State Guard at Wilson's Creek. He had served in the Mexican War, the United States Congress, and as governor of Missouri. He accepted the command of the State Guard when the war began. At age 51, he was the oldest of the principal commanders at Wilson's Creek and was well-liked by his troops, who affectionately nicknamed him "Old Pap."



German-born Franz Sigel was director of public schools in St. Louis at the onset of the Civil War. As colonel of the 3rd Missouri Infantry, he took part in the capture of Camp Jackson in May 1861 and fought in the Battle of Carthage two months later. The defeat of his brigade at Wilson's Creek helped forge the Southern victory.






Did You Know?
Captain James Totten's Battery F, 2nd U.S. Artillery dueled with Captain William Woodruff's Pulaski Battery during the Battle of Wilson's Creek. Ironically, before the war James Totten had helped the members of Woodruff's Battery with their artillery training.



Lt. Omer R. Weaver – Killed by cannon shot at Wilson’s Creek.

The above picture is from an interpretive scene from a 2008 film.

He was a member of the Pulaski Battery. He is shown reading a letter from his sweet heart, Annie, from Little Rock. The Weavers were one of Little Rock’s most prominent families. His father built one of Little Rock’s largest and most expensive houses which included an extensive library. Omer graduated from the University of Nashville in 1856 at the age on 19. Working for the U.S. surveyor general in Arkansas, Omer joined the Pulaski Light Battery in peacetime, when the men were still called the Tottens. Mortally wounded at The Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Weaver “fell like a hero, with his face to the foe…” said Captain William Woodruff. Woodruff went to great links to obtain a zinc-lined coffin for Weaver’s body, which was shipped home for a hero’s funeral, one of the largest ever held in Little Rock.*

*See Piston’s book, pages 111-113, 204, 298, and 302.

Question – Does anyone know where Weaver is buried?

Hulston Library
At Wilson’s Creek


This is a must when you visit Wilson’s Creek.

Holdings: The John K. and Ruth Hulston Civil War Research Library was founded in 1985. A new library building was dedicated in April 2003. The core of the library collection was donated by Springfield attorney John K. Hulston and his wife Ruth. Currently the library contains approximately 6,500 volumes concentrating on the Civil War period and the Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi Theater.
Public Use: All of the library's volumes are non-circulating, but are available for use by serious scholars.

Reference Services: Staff members are able to perform limited research for patrons by regular mail, e-mail, telephone or in person. Extensive research on a particular topic should be done in person.

Genealogy: The library owns microfilm copies of the National Archives Compiled Service Records for all Union and Confederate soldiers from Missouri, those from other states who fought at Wilson's Creek, and some additional soldiers. Copies can be requested free of charge from the Hulston Library or ordered for a fee from the National Archives. Forms to obtain copies of National Archives records are available at the Visitor Center, or National Archives forms can be downloaded and records ordered on-line.The library also has published rosters giving basic information on all Civil War soldiers, and will search for particular names on request.

Regimental Histories: The library contains many histories of individual Civil War regiments, especially Union units. In addition, many Northern state adjutant general's reports and other regimental materials are available. Limited information is available on Southern units.

PLEASE NOTE: HULSTON LIBRARY HOURS ARE CURRENTLY TUESDAY-SATURDAY, 9 A.M.-NOON AND 1-4 P.M. THE LIBRARY IS CLOSED ON SUNDAY AND MONDAY. THE LIBRARY IS LOCATED NEXT TO THE VISITOR CENTER.

 


Mark Your Calendars
 
 

Prairie Grove Battlefield Tour

For members and friends of the CWRT of Arkansas 
 

Depart Little Rock  3:00 P.M.  Friday, December 5

Return Little Rock  7:45 P.M.  Saturday, December 6

For additional information contact Rick Meadows at rmeadows@aaamissouri.com  
 
 

Champion Heritage Foundation

Battlefield Fund-Raiser

All day event at Champion Hill, Mississippi, May 16, 2009

Dr. Timothy Smith, author of Champion Hill, will be the featured speaker. 
 
 

Civil War Preservation Trust – Annual Conference

“The Fields of Gettysburg”

Thursday, June 4 – Sunday, June 7, 2009

www.civilwar.org

________________________________________________________________________ 
 

Our Scheduled Speakers Early in 2009

January

Tom Wing The Arkansas Experiences of Priv. Henry Strong, 12th Kansas Inf, 1863-65 
 

February 

Mark Kalkbrenner  General William J. Hardee 
 

March

Don Nall  General Nathan Bedford Forrest 
 

April

Terry Winschel Vicksburg 
 

Brian Brown, our Treasurer, is now receiving your Dues!

Membership dues for 2009 of $20 may be paid on-line or by mail.

Make your check payable to CWRT of Arkansas, P.O. Box 7201, Little Rock, AR 72217

Additional monies received will be used for preservation efforts of our Battlefields. Please consider a gift of $25, $50, $100 or more. Together we can make a difference!
 

 

 
 

Hope to see you November 25, 2008 at the Civil War Roundtable Meeting!

 

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