Describing the Battle of Wilson's Creek, and his participation there, including an eye-witness account of the death of General Nathaniel Lyon, in an autograph letter, signed 5 March 1925 from the Kansas National Military Home, to Jeannette Trowbridge of Eastford, Connecticut.

1925. Folio. Eight pages, approximately 2750 words; accompanied by another autograph letter from Russell to Trowbridge (14 March 1925; 4to, four pages, approximately 750 words), with more information on the political situation in Missouri on the eve of war, and an autograph transcription by Russell of the long poem "The Battle of Wilson's Creek, August 10, 1861" (folio, two pages), with his own commentary on the poem. Folded. Insect damage to the poem and first leaf of the longer letter, resulting in the loss of a number of letters, but quite legible throughout. (813). Item #53642

Russell, a native of St. Louis, enlisted under Lincoln's first call for troops and served in a Missouri regiment through the summer of 1864. Following an outline of sectional struggle from 1820 and early events of the war given in the first half of the longer letter, Russell describes the events of the Wilson's Creek Campaign and then his own eyewitness to history: "The Kansas boys, like ourselves, were resting when all at once, the rebels crept up the hill to the top of the crest, opened a tremendous fire right into the Iowa boys and our regiment, but we went at them anyway and a hand to hand struggle began ... My Captain, Cary Gratz, was killed ... I was wounded four times and the Kansas boys were holding their own. Capt. Lyon had been hit twice, once a scratch along the forehead and a light superficial wound in the knee. I was carried down the hill and placed on the hill side opposite the line of battle, the valley being merely a hollow. I had a good view of the fight as it went on. My first attention was attracted to my right as I lay there and watched Capt. Lyon trying to rally the Iowa boys who were in a panic, their Colonel had been killed, and although the Kansas boys had saved them, Capt. Lyon was rallying them into formation to use as they were then near the front. All at once I saw him rear off that dople [sic] gray horse and fall to the ground. Maj. Schofield also ran to his side, a messenger sent for our surgeon, Dr. Comyns ... Capt. Lyon was carried down the hill, he was shot nearly half way up from the hollow to the battle lines. The bullet had struck him squarely in the breast and had gone through his hear and he had lost the pleasure of seeing the victory his indomitable courage had won."_The Confederates, commanded by Gen. Sterling Price, made another assault following the death of Lyon, but Samuel Sturgis rallied the Union troops and the Federal lines held. Sturgis then left the field toward Springfield and the Confederates did not pursue him. "The campaign marked the beginning of the war in Missouri and the trans-Mississippi. Afterward the Federal army withdrew to rolla Missouri, leaving the Southerners in possession of most of the southwestern region of the state" ("Encyclopedia of the Confederacy")._Lyon (1818-1861), a Connecticut native, graduated from West Point in 1841, served in the Mexican War and on the western frontier, most of the time to the eve of Civil War in "Bleeding Kansas," becoming involved in the political issue of slavery in the territories. Appointed brigadier general in May, 1861, to command the Union forces in St. Louis, he also led discussions with Confederate sympathizers on Missouri's position in the union; when compromise failed he launched his first military campaign which culminated in his death at Wilson's Creek. "The entire north mourned his death and he immediately became a national hero and martyr ... his brilliant work had done much to hold Missouri for the Union" (DAB).

Price: $1,500.00

See all items in Civil War