In compliance with your order, through Capt. Bendel, I have the honor to give you my report, relative to the part taken by my command during the battle at Wilson's Creek, on the 10th day of this month:
My command consisted of three companies -- Co. A, commanded by First Lieut. Guintzel; Co. C., commanded by Capt. Bendel; Co. D, (Rolla), commanded by Capt. Bowen; and was ordered by General Lyon to proceed as advance guard on the right of Capt. Plummer's Battalion, and in front of Capt. Totten's battery.
About four o'clock A. M. we could see the enemy's camp, and our column was at that time directed so as to form in the rear of it. After a scouting party was dispersed by Capt. Plummer's skirmishers, I threw my men as fast as possible forward through a deep ravine, thickly covered with brushwood, keeping always connected with Capt. Plummer's forces. On the brow of the hill I found a cavalry camp, evidently taken by surprise, everybody running for his horse, and fleeing from the fire of my skirmishers. I pursued those men until they were utterly shattered, and most of their horses were left in my possession.
At that time my attention was attracted by a noise, apparently caused by the movements of a large body of mounted men in front of my position, but entirely out of my view. My command being in my opinion rather a little too far ahead of the column already, I rode back to General Lyon to make him the proper report, and to suggest the order to proceed toward the supposed column of the enemy. The General gave me the order and sent some troops to support me. I advanced with my command in double quick, and arrived at the edge of a valley just in time to see at least one thousand men, cavalry, advancing undoubtedly with the intention to flank our right. The whole force was in the very best range for my Minie rifles. I fired into them about six times by battalion fire, and most effectively; the report of my fire attracted the attention of the gallant commander of the artillery on my left, Capt. Totten, who detailed immediately two of his guns to my assistance. A few rounds of canister did fearful execution in the enemy's ranks, and in a short time he disappeared totally from the battle field. Our right was secured.
I received then the order to come back to protect the artillery. Finding Capt. Totten all safe, I marched my men to the left wing of our line, and took position on the right of Lt. Dubois's battery of four pieces. I arrived there at the moment when our noble General Lyon led a battalion of the Iowa troops in person towards the enemy: my position was partly masked by the Iowa's leaving me no chance to assist them, but suffering a good deal from the enemy. After waiting for my time patiently about twenty minutes, the Iowa companies unmasked me, and I marched my men quickly to the crest of the hill, and took up the fire. We came rather close together, the enemy was very strong, but my men had better arms. Very soon I was supported on my right by the First Kansas Regiment, and after a pretty long fight, the enemy retreated down the gill.
After the long pause caused by our ignorance in regard to General Sigel's forces, Major Sturgis, who had taken the command, gave the order to retreat. Dubois's battery, protected by my battalion, were to form the rear guard. All our forces returned unmolested. Only one a regiment of the enemy's infantry showed its colors within the range of my rifles. It did not advance far enough to injure us in the least. The artillery fire of the enemy, though very well aimed, did not last any length of time, thanks to the skill of Lt. Dubois and his battery.
I brought my command back into Springfield at five o'clock P. M. My loss amounts to three officers and forty enlisted men, being 37 1/2 percent for the commissioned officers and 23 percent of the enlisted men. I annex a complete list of the killed, wounded and missing, and am, very respectfully, your very obedient servant.OSTERHAUS
Major Commanding, Mo. Rifle Battalion
Here is a gallery of pictures I took of the Wilson's Creek battle site in 2004. William G. Piston, co-author with Richard W. Hatcher III of Wilson's Creek, the Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men Who Fought It (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2000) graciously spent the better part of the day showing me the field and answering my endless questions. Thanks, Bill!
Cawthorn's cavalry on the north spur watched Osterhaus's skirmishers approach across this valley.
Gaining the top of Bloody Hill, Osterhaus saw Price's headquarters and tents below. He surprised Ben Rives' cavalry camp on the gradual slope to his right.
Early in the fight, Lyon ordered Osterhaus's battalion to prevent the Union right flank from being turned from this ravine.
McBride's and Guibor's battery's view from the base of Bloody Hill toward Osterhaus, Totten and the 1st MO on the Union right flank.
Typical cover on the hill, waist high
Later, Osterhaus led his battalion across this part of Bloody Hill toward Du Bois's position on the Union left flank.
Pulaski's battery's view of Bloody Hill across the creek, looking toward the Union left flank and DuBois's battery with Osterhaus now covering him.
Wilson's Creek ran red as injured Confederates cleaned their wounds during the fight. The thirsty Union forces did not have access to this creek during the battle.