“Look around among the wounded men,” was the order, “and get some 54-cartridges. Don’t stop to cut down that bullet.”
“I would look around, lieutenant,” the soldier responded, “but I can’t move. My leg is shot through. I won’t be long cutting this down, and then I want a chance to hit some of them.”
Captain Gordon Granger was serving on the staff of General Lyon. When not actively engaged in his professional duties, he visited all parts of the field where the fight was hottest. Though himself somewhat excited, he was constantly urging the raw soldiers to keep cool and not throw away a shot. Wherever there was a weak place in our line, he was among the first to discover it and devise a plan for making it good. On one occasion, he found a gap between two regiments, and noticed that the Rebels were preparing to take advantage of it. Without a moment’s delay, he transferred three companies of infantry to the spot, managing to keep them concealed behind a small ridge.
“Now, lie still; don’t raise your heads out of the grass,” said Granger; “I’ll tell you when to fire.”
The Rebels advanced toward the supposed gap. Granger stood where he could see and not be seen. He was a strange compound of coolness and excitement. While his judgment was of the best, and his resources were ready for all emergencies, a by-stander would have thought him heated almost to frenzy. The warmth of his blood gave him a wonderful energy and rendered him ubiquitous; his skill and decision made his services of the highest importance.
“There they come; steady, now; let them get near enough; fire low; give them h—l.”
The Rebels rushed forward, thinking to find an easy passage. When within less than fifty yards, Granger ordered his men to fire. The complete repulse of the Rebels was the result.
“There, boys; you’ve done well. D—n the scoundrels; they won’t come here again.” With this, the captain hastened to some other quarter.
The death of General Lyon occurred near the middle of the battle. So many accounts of this occurrence have been given, that I am not fully satisfied which is the correct one. I know at least half a dozen individuals in whose arms General Lyon expired, and think there are as many more who claim that sad honor. There is a similar mystery concerning his last words, a dozen versions having been given by persons who claim to have heard them. It is my belief that General Lyon was killed while reconnoitering the enemy’s line and directing the advance of a regiment of infantry. I believe he was on foot at the instant, and was caught, as he fell, in the arms of “Lehman,” his orderly. His last utterance was, doubtless, the order for the infantry to advance, and was given a moment before he received the fatal bullet. From the nature of the wound, his death, if not instantaneous, was very speedy. A large musket-ball entered his left side, in the region of the heart, passing nearly through to the right. A reported wound in the breast was made with a bayonet in the hands of a Rebel soldier, several hours afterward. The body was brought to Springfield on the night after the battle.