The Battle of Springfield Missouri

 

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Civil War Harper's Weekly, August 31, 1861

This 1861 newspaper has a variety of important Civil War content. The cover features a stunning image of General Lyon and the Battle of Springfield. There is a full page picture of General Scott and the Union Generals. The paper also has a full page picture of Rebel Soldiers, and their uniforms and equipment.

(Scroll Down to see full page, or Newspaper Thumbnails will take you to the page of interest.)

 

General Lyon

General Lyon at Battle of Springfield

Battle of Springfield

The Battle of Springfield

Lincoln Seizure of Southern Property

Lincoln Seizure of Property

Pennsylvania Avenue

Pennsylvania Avenue

Burning of Hampton Virginia

Hampton Burning

Building Gun Boats

Building Civil War Ships

Camp Dennison

Camp Dennison

General Fremont's Flotilla

Fremont's Flotilla in St. Louis

Union Generals

General Scott and the Union Generals

Bowie Knives

Confederate Bowie Knives

Football at Camp Johnson

Camp Johnson

Union Civil War Uniforms

Union Uniforms

Cartoon

Cartoons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[AUGUST 31, 1861.

546

THE BATTLE AT SPRINGFIELD,
MISSOURI.

WE illustrate on page 545 THE DEATH OF GENERAL LYON AT THE BATTLE OF SPRINGFIELD, and on page 549 the REBEL PRISONERS HAULING OFF GENERAL SIEGIEL'S GUNS, after the horses had been killed. The following account of the battle is furnished by an eye-witness, who left Springfield on Sunday morning and came through to Rolla on horseback :

Our army marched out of Springfield on Friday evening only 5500 strong, the Home Guard remaining at that place. Our forces slept on the prairie a portion of the night, and about sunrise on Saturday morning drove in the outposts of the enemy, and soon after the attack became general.

The attack was made in two columns by Generals Lyon and Sturgis, General Siegel leading a flanking force of about one thousand men and four guns on the south of the enemy's camp.

The fight raged from sunrise until one or two o'clock in the afternoon. The rebels, in overwhelming force, charged Captain Totten's battery three distinct times, but were repulsed with great slaughter.

General Lyon fell early in the day. He had been previously wounded in the leg, and had a horse shot from under him.

The Colonel of one of the Kansas regiments having become disabled, the boys cried out, "General, you come and lead us on!" He did so, and at once putting himself in front, and while cheering the men on to the charge, received a bullet in the left breast, and fell from his horse. He was asked if he was hurt, and replied, "No, not much," but in a few minutes he expired without a struggle.

General Siegel had a very severe struggle, and lost three of his four guns. His artillery horses were shot in their harness, and the pieces disabled. He endeavored to haul them off with a number of prisoners he had taken, but was finally compelled to abandon them, first, however, spiking the guns and disabling the carriages.

About one o'clock the enemy seemed to be in great disorder, retreating and setting fire to their train of baggage wagons. Our forces were too much fatigued and cut up to pursue, so the battle may be considered a drawn one.

The Herald correspondent thus tells the sad tale of poor Lyon's death:

For two or three days before the battle General Lyon changed much in appearance. Since it became apparent to him that he must abandon the Southwest or have his army cut to pieces, he had lost much of his former energy and decision. To one of his staff he remarked, the evening before the battle, "I am a man believing in presentiments, and ever since this night surprise was planned I have had a feeling I can not get rid of that it would result disastrously. Through the refusal of Government properly to reinforce me I am obliged to abandon the country. If I leave it without engaging the enemy the public will call me a coward. If I engage him, I may be defeated and my command cut to pieces. I am too weak to hold Springfield, and yet the people will demand that I bring about a battle with the very enemy I can not keep a town against. How can this result otherwise than against us?"

On the way to the field I frequently rode near him. He seemed like one bewildered, and often when addressed failed to give any recognition, and seemed totally unaware that he was spoken to. On the battle-field he gave his orders promptly, and seemed solicitous for the welfare of his men, but utterly regardless of his own safety. While he was standing where bullets flew thickest, just after his favorite horse was shot from under him, some of his officers interposed and begged that he would retire from the spot and seek one less exposed. Scarcely raising his eyes from the enemy he said:

" It is well enough that I stand here. I am satisfied." While the line was forming for the charge against the rebels in which he lost his life, General Lyon turned to Major Sturgis, who stood near him, and remarked:

"I fear that the day is lost; if Colonel Siegel had been successful he would have joined us before this. I think I will lead this charge."

He had been wounded in the leg in an early part of the engagement—a flesh wound merely—from which the blood fleeted profusely. Major Sturgis during the conversation noticed blood on General Lyon's hat, and at first supposed he had been touching it with his hand, which was wet with blood from his leg. A moment after, perceiving that it was fresh, he removed the General's hat and asked the cause of its appearance. "It is nothing, Major; nothing but a wound in the head," said General Lyon, turning away and mounting his horse. Without taking the hat held out to him by Major Sturgis, he addressed the Iowans he was to command with-

"Forward men! I will lead you!"

Two minutes afterward he lay dead on the field, killed by a rifle-ball through the breast, just above the heart. In death his features wore the same troubled and puzzled expression that had been fixed upon them for the past week. His body was brought to town in the afternoon, and will be forwarded to his friends in Connecticut for internment.

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 31, 1861. LIBERTY OF SPEECH.

THE presentment by the Grand Jury of the United States Circuit Court of certain New York journals as aiders and abetters of treason, the suppression of treasonable papers in Missouri, and the forcible demolition of the offices of similar sheets published in New England, naturally suggest discussion on the subject of liberty of speech. The journals assailed or suppressed claim that to interfere with them is to violate liberty of speech—a privilege emphatically secured to the American people by the Constitution. It is well worth while to test this claim.

Liberty of speech, like every other kind of liberty, is not absolute, but conditional. It is subject to the condition that individuals shall not be libeled, and that the public morals or welfare shall not be directly and flagrantly assailed. The assault must be clear, and the injury obvious and gross. A journal may censure the policy of the Government with almost any severity of language, or assail the opinions of a majority of the people with any degree of violence, and yet be entitled to protection against assault. But it can not pretend that liberty of the press justifies the publication of statements or opinions which are directly and obviously destructive of the morals, or the welfare, or the safety of the people. For the liberty of the press, like all other kinds of liberty, is limited by the essential restriction that its exercise shall not be injurious to others.

The question, therefore, involved in the case of the journals to which we have alluded is simply—did they confine themselves within the

limits of a fair opposition to the measures of Government and to the opinions of the majority of the people, or was their course directly and obviously destructive of the welfare or safety of the nation ? If the latter alternative be true, then it would clearly seem that they were nuisances which not only required abatement at the hands of the officers of the law, but which might be abated by any citizen or party of citizens without legal formality of any kind.

We presume that it will not be denied that these journals were hostile to the Government, and friendly to the rebels who are in arms endeavoring to destroy it ; that they advocated measures which would paralyze our armies; that they did their best to damp the military spirit of the people and to injure the credit of the Government ; that they excused the treason of the traitors, and blamed each successive step taken by loyal people ; that the general tendency of their articles upon the mind of persons not otherwise informed must have been to create a feeling of disloyalty and opposition to the national policy at the present crisis. That some of the editors were sincere in the expression of these views is very possible. But that the views themselves were pernicious, mischievous, and calculated to do great public injury at a time of extreme peril, there can be no doubt.

This, however, is not the worst. The chief harm which these journals have done has been in deceiving the South with regard to Northern sentiment. No rebellion would ever have taken place had not Northern journals deluded the South into the belief that, in the hour of battle, a large party at the North would stand by them. Even now the South is encouraged to persevere in the war by the delusive notion that a few more weeks' fighting will compel the North to yield. This notion rests entirely upon false statements contained in Northern rebel journals. The New Orleans, Richmond, and Memphis papers teem with articles from these sheets which are calculated to induce ignorant readers to believe that a peace party is about to spring up at the North, that the Government and the people are tired of the war, that Mr. Lincoln has neither men nor money, and that in a few weeks the independence of the Southern Confederacy will be acknowledged at Washington. Of course the rebel leaders know better than this, but their followers do not, and hence they persevere in their rebellion. It is impossible to exaggerate the mischief thus done. Union men in Kentucky declare that two of these journals, both published in New York, gave them more trouble than Magoffin, Breckinridge, and all the other native traitors. And this can easily be understood. When a wavering Southerner reads in a New York paper—the only one he sees —that Mr. Lincoln is about to give way, and the North to surrender, the temptation to join what seems the winning side must be almost irresistible.

If a newspaper can inflict upon the public and the nation a greater injury than this, it can not readily be conceived. Infidel or immoral or indecent publications are far less mischievous. The deserter who conveys information to the enemy, and is hung or shot without scruple if he is caught, does far less harm than the publisher of a paper which by false statements deludes a whole people into persevering in a fatal war.

Whether it can be said that such a paper is so obviously and directly destructive of the public welfare or safety as to be a common nuisance requiring abatement, the public and the Courts of Justice must decide.

BRITISH OPINION ON THE WAR.

DISAPPOINTMENT has been felt in this country at the universal complacency with which our troubles are regarded in England. Many persons had expected that Englishmen, whose antislavery teachings had largely aided the spread of abolitionism here, would hold fast to their principles when slavery made war upon the United States. The event has not justified these expectations. And in the light of experience they must be pronounced unreasonable.

For they ignore the essential characteristic of the British temper—which is blind selfishness. All nations are in a measure selfish—that is to say, they prefer their own interest to that of others. But no nation but Great Britain is so wholly wrapped in considerations of narrow self-interest as to be utterly indifferent to the well-being of every foreign people. No nation but the English systematically rejoice over the misfortunes of their neighbors, from the mean idea that they are rivals, and that their losses are England's gain. No people but Englishmen carry selfishness to such an extent as to be incapable of feeling pleasure at any one's prosperity but their own, or of feeling sorrow at any misfortunes which do not strike directly at their own pockets.

The uniform, consistent policy of the British nation has been ever based on hostility to every other nation in the world. Englishmen seem to have aimed at being Ishmaels and pariahs—and to have succeeded. At home and abroad, they hate every body, and are hated in return. No spark of generosity, or sympathy, or kindly interest in other people's welfare ever illumines

British foreign policy, or the foreign articles of the leading British journals. Other nations can feel for foreigners : Frenchmen helped to free Italy; Russians are cordial to Germany. Spaniards, Portuguese, Turks, Swedes, Asiatics—all evince occasional sympathy for nations beyond their own border. Englishmen never for an instant waver in their enmity to all foreigners.

Nothing but the most exemplary forbearance on the part of the rulers of France has prevented the French resenting the uniform hostility which England has shown to every French Government from the Restoration to the present empire, and to every great measure of French policy. Spain, absorbed in the task of national regeneration, has been worried at every step in her path by the captious and aimless cavils of England. Italy, after being goaded to war by British taunts, conquered her independence in the teeth of British threats and British protests. The leading organ of German opinion gives fair expression to German sentiment when it calls the English the nuisances of the 19th century. Hatred is a feeble term to describe the feelings with which Englishmen are regarded in Russia and the Scandinavian kingdoms. And throughout Asia and South America, where England has played the bully, the oppressor, and the robber for a couple of centuries, every foreigner is welcome but an Englishman. Could we fairly expect to escape the ill-will of every body's foe ?

Englishmen possess great qualities : energy, perseverance, enterprise, business capacity, honesty. No one will deny them these. Yet wherever they go, despite the undoubted benefit these qualities confer upon the place of their residence, they contrive to win the dislike of the people with whom they live. Out of England, there is not a town in the world where Englishmen are not avoided by the educated classes, and hated by the masses of the people. They would be inconsistent and unnatural if they failed to improve the present crisis by conciliating the dislike and courting the antipathy of Americans.

THE LOUNGER.

CONSEQUENCES.

WHEN the Government was forced to take up arms, it did so to defend its own integrity, not to destroy slavery. Of course a great many thoughtful persons then saw, as the great body of citizens now see, that one of the results of the war thrust by slavery upon the country will be emancipation. In other words, the interest of slave property as the dominant political interest in the Government will be overthrown, and when that happens slavery will disappear. But in what precise way that result will be reached no man can say.

It is equally clear that as the rebels still persist, and the war proceeds and is removed to the Gulf States, there will be danger of slave-insurrections. They are always the dangerous contingency of wars in populous slave regions. No sane man desires them ; but every fool can see the danger. Who is responsible for them if they occur ? The men who insisted upon war, by forcibly withstanding and outraging the Government, or the Government, which, even after war was theoretically begun, still hoped that it might he practically avoided ?

The slaveholders, with sad and habitual inconsistency, at one moment execrate those whom they suspect of exciting insurrections, and at the next declaim upon the sleek satisfaction of the slaves whom nothing could induce to rise. Why then—pertinently asks Dr. Russell—why then, if they are so happy, keep telling me that they are so ? And he adds that his impression does not justify what be hears.

No : that wretched delusion has gone forever. We have always been told how contented and happy they are. But have we forgotten how Virginia quivered and reeled with terror before the pike of one gray old man asking the slaves to come to him ? Have we forgotten what John Randolph said about the fire-bell in Richmond that never sounded at night but every mother clasped her child in vague horror to her breast, lest it might mean insurrection ? Have we forgotten all the laws of all the slave States? Have we forgotten the patrol, the restless supervision, not against police offenses, but against a nameless and universal fear ? Have we forgotten the awful fate that has overtaken any one who was suspected of telling these happy creatures that there was even a greater happiness than their condition? Have we forgotten that the word freedom has been the most dangerous word to utter in the slave-section ? Have we forgotten history and human nature ?

No, no: that horrible, hackneyed humbug about the content of slaves is forever dissipated. Individual affection of course there is. Touissant l'Ouverture, the chief of the Saint Domingo revolt, so loved his master and his family that he saved their lives. On the other hand, the slaves upon the plantation of M. Gallifet had been so kindly treated that their happiness was proverbial. But the sanguinary scene of the insurrection upon that plantation is not less so. " So much for happy negroes and contented slaves!" bitterly exclaims a mulatto author describing the revolt.

Why should we thrust our heads into the sand? The Government of the United States neither desires nor incites slave insurrections. But it is engaged in war with an enemy who inhabit a region overflowing with slaves. Is the Government to surrender lest they should rise? Is it necessary to repeat, then, what all candid men know, that the party which brought this Administration

into power have always held, in common with all loyal citizens of the land, that every political difference in this country, however vital to the interest of any part of it, is soluble under the Constitution. The secessionists think differently. They mean, if they can, to settle the question over the Constitution. They live among slaves, and have taken up arms. The rebellion of the slaves is the natural consequence. If they do rebel, how long is the insurrection of the masters likely to last?

BOURBON POLITICS.

THE Breckinridge State Committee is of the opinion of the Newark Evening Journal, that " our enemies are fighting for their liberties." The liberty, namely, of breaking up the Government of the United States. The same Committee has also expelled a member upon the express ground that he is loyal to the Government of his country.

Fortunately the people of the State of New York are not the property of Mr. Gideon Tucker's Committee, nor yet of Mr. Dean Richmond's Committee. They are probably of the opinion, and will make the fact appear in November, that the Government of the people of the United States, when it is maintaining its constitutional authority by the hands and hearts and money of all loyal citizens, is properly "coercing" rebels to obey the laws. The people of this State will probably " resolve" next November, in reply to Mr. Tucker, and Mr. Cagger, and Mr. Richmond, and Mr. Ben. Wood, and Mr. Jeff Davis, and Mr. Breckinridge, and Mr. Floyd, and Mr. Claiborne F. Jackson, not forgetting Mr. Vallandigham, something substantially like this :

Resolved, The Right Reverend Major-General Leonidas Polk to the contrary notwithstanding, that the primary and unqualified political allegiance of every citizen of the United States is to the National Government, and not to the Government of the State in which be may be born or chance to reside ; and that the doctrine of secession, or the right of any citizen, or any number of citizens, forcibly to resist the National Government, or to seize the national property, under the plea of State sovereignty—a doctrine which is maintained with arms by Mr. Jefferson Davis, and Mr. Toombs, and General Toutant de Beauregard; and is equally maintained, with excuses and sympathy and deprecations, and by all means short of arms, by Mr. Breckinridge, and Mr. Ben Wood, and Mr. Tucker, and Mr. Cagger, and Mr. Richmond, and Mr. Vallandigham, and Company—is a doctrine subversive of all civil order ; having no foundation or justification in the Constitution, and utterly at variance with the facts of history, with the traditions of the nation, and with the dictates of common sense.

When the people of the Empire State thunder that out hundreds of thousands strong, the worthy gentlemen who think the only way to deal with thieves is to ask them what else they will be pleased to take, will have no other consolation left than what may be gathered from the judicious observation in Mr. Dean Richmond's letter of the 8th August : " It is of little importance what men or what party occupy public positions, if of honor and emolument, but of the utmost moment that citizens of common principles should unite at this time in support of the Government and in vindication of the Constitution and Union."

There is but one principle common to loyal citizens at this time, and that is, that the Government can not be supported by saying to citizens in arms, " If you will only tell its what you want, you shall have it."

PATRIOTS.

PAUL DILLINGHAM, of Waterbury, in Vermont, was recently nominated by a Democratic State Convention for Governor, and James T. Thurston and Stephen Thomas for Lieutenant Governor and Treasurer of Vermont. They have all declined the nomination, upon the sole ground that at this time there can be but two parties, one for maintaining the Government unconditionally, and the other for overthrowing it.

"We must for the time," says Mr. Dillingham, " forget whether we be Republicans or Democrats. In such a union there will be strength and efficiency, and if we differ hereafter, let it be to settle the question who did most for his country. Let us act together, act honestly, efficiently, and let him wear honors who fairly wins them. I feel very confident that a great number—I hope a majority —of all the old parties in this State feel and judge as I do, and that they will rise above party as such and stand for their country, one and indivisible, now and forever. With such I mean to act, whether their number be few or many, till this most wicked rebellion is crushed out; and wishing that my opinions and acts may be in harmony, I have felt called upon to decline the nomination so honorably tendered to me."

The other gentlemen say : "In reply we have to say that we are of the opinion that, until the present rebellion and treason shall be overcome, it is the duty of every true and loyal citizen to sustain the spirit and strengthen the arm of his country by every means in his power; that party names and differences should be entirely laid aside, and not be permitted to divide loyal citizens or deter any man from yielding a full and enthusiastic support to the men and measures upon which we must rely for the victory of the Government and the Constitution over Disunion."

To these sentiments every loyal heart in the land, Democratic, Republican, or whatever, will cry amen. This is the Democracy of the Green Mountains, and it is pure patriotism. How does it compare with the "Democracy" of Mr. Dean Richmond's letter and the Breckinridge Committee's resolutions?

THE POINT OF THE CASE.

THERE is no question whatsoever of the unanimous desire and of the sufficient pecuniary and military resources of the local citizens of the country (Next Page)


 

 

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