It was my fortune to be acquainted with General Lyon. During the progress of the war I met no one who impressed me more than he, in his devotion to the interests of the country. If he possessed ambition for personal glory, I was unable to discover it. He declared that reputation was a bubble, which no good soldier should follow. Wealth was a shadow, which no man in the country’s service should heed. His pay as an officer was sufficient for all his wants, and he desired nothing more. He gave to the Nation, as the friend he loved the dearest, a fortune which he had inherited. If his death could aid in the success of the cause for which he was fighting, he stood ready to die. The gloom that spread throughout the North when the news of his loss was received, showed a just appreciation of his character.
“How sleep the brave who sink to
By all their country’s wishes blest!”
At that battle there was the usual complement of officers for five thousand men. Two years later there were seven major-generals and thirteen brigadier-generals who had risen from the Wilson Creek Army. There were colonels, lieutenant-colonels, and majors, by the score, who fought in the line or in the ranks on that memorable 10th of August. In 1863, thirty-two commissioned officers were in the service from one company of the First Iowa Infantry. Out of one company of the First Missouri Infantry, twenty-eight men received commissions. To the majority of the officers from that army promotion was rapid, though a few cases occurred in which the services they rendered were tardily acknowledged.
[Illustration: DEATH OF GENERAL LYON]
THE RETREAT FROM SPRINGFIELD.
A Council of War.—The Journalists’
Retreat.—Preceding the Advance-Guard.—Alarm and Anxiety of the
People.—Magnificent Distances.—A Novel Odometer.—The Unreliable
Countryman.—Neutrality.—A Night at Lebanon.—A Disagreeable
Lodging-place.—Active Secessionists.—The Man who Sought and
Found his Rights.—Approaching Civilization.—Rebel Couriers on the
Route.—Arrival at Rolla.
On the night after the battle, the army was quartered at Springfield. The Rebels had returned to the battle-ground, and were holding it in possession. The court-house and a large hotel were taken for hospitals, and received such of our wounded as were brought in. At a council of war, it was decided to fall back to Rolla, a hundred and twenty miles distant, and orders were given to move at daylight.
The journalists held a council of war, and decided to commence their retreat at half-past two o’clock in the morning, in order to be in advance of the army. The probabilities were in favor of the enemy’s cavalry being at the junction of certain roads, five miles east of the town. We, therefore, divested ourselves of every thing of a compromising character. In my own saddle-bags I took only such toilet articles as I had long carried, and which were not of a warlike nature. We destroyed papers that might give information to the enemy, and kept only our note-books, from which all reference to the strength of our army was carefully stricken out. We determined, in case of capture, to announce ourselves as journalists, and display our credentials.