Specifically mentioned animals at the Battle of Wilson's Creek

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!


First Sergeant
Forum Host
Thread Medic
Jul 23, 2017
Southwest Missouri
Reference Map

First hand accounts from the Battle of Wilson's Creek

Author, location on battlefield, segment from his account

August 10th, 1861 Southwest Missouri -

Blue & Gray (thought to be Pvt Dailey 1st MO, Union) on top of Bloody Hill - The men and the horses were long associated together, and the latter were regarded as pets, somewhat after the fashion of those attached to the fire-engines in our large cities. While the cannon were at work the horses were sheltered in rear of the high ground,....
Eugene F Ware, 1st Iowa, on top of Bloody Hill and flanking Totten’s Battery, under fire from the Pulaski Battery - One of the large roan artillery horses was standing back of the gun and over the crest of the hill. A shell from the battery in front of us struck this horse somehow and tore off his shoulder. Then began the most horrible screams and neighing I ever heard. I have since that time seen wounded horses, and heard their frantic shrieks, and so have all the other soldiers, but the voice of this roan horse was the limit; it was so absolutely blood-curdling that it had to be put to an end immediately. One of the soldiers shot the horse through the heart.

Victor Rose, 3rd Texas Cavalry, coming under fire from Siegel’s Battery,in Sharp’s cornfield - In Company A, Third Texas Cavalry, was an unadultered specimen from Erin, of the name of B. Thomas. Mr. Thomas rode an incorrigible horse, who would eat the tether that bound him to a tree, and, being loose, he would devour whatever was eatable in camp. This equine marauder had pursued his evil bent to such an extent, that many of the victims had become exasperated, and declared if Mr. Thomas did not devise means for securing the horse, they would kill him - the horse. As Mr. Thomas would have rather suffered crucifixion, head down, than to have been left afoot in Missouri, he procured a chain and padlock, with which he managed to secure the marauder. When Sigel's battery opened, just before dawn on that memorable morning, and the bugle rang out "to horse!" Mr. Thomas discovered that the mechanism of his lock was not perfect, for the "bloody thing wouldn't work."

William Tunnard, 3rd Louisiana - fighting Federal troops in the cornfield - A large dark-and-tan-colored dog [had] attached himself to the regiment, and soon became a universal pet. When on the march he invariably trotted along the road a few paces in advance of the van, and hence earned the sobriquet of "Sergeant." He seldom left his position in front of the moving column,....On the morning of the battle..."Sergeant" was on hand to participate in the events of the day. Amid the storm of leaden bullets and the fierce rattle of musketry in the first close deadly and obstinate engagement with the enemy, "Sergeant" charged through the bushes, leaping over logs and obstacles, barking furiously all the time.....shouted at him, "Get off of that sergeant, you d--d fool, you'll be killed." The words were scarcely uttered ere a fatal ball struck him, and with a long piteous whine....The intelligent animal fell among the prostrate forms of many who had fed and caressed him.…

Robert Young, orderly to Mosby Parsons, base of Bloody Hill - I found Colonel Kelly with his regiment drawn up on the road by his camp awaiting orders, or rather waiting for the wagons to clear the road so he could cross. Just as I reached him the road cleared somewhat and I delivered my message. The colonel said: "Bob, show me where the battery is (everybody in the brigade knew me as Bob, the man that rode the bobtail gray horse). I succeeded in leading them to where the battery was, and as the regiment was wheeling into line, and while I was still between the enemy and Kelly's regiment, a volley from the hidden foe swept over us and about us like hailstones. Charley O'Malley, my poor, faithful horse, that my father gave to me to ride away to the war, fell to rise no more. As he sank beneath me he neighed, and some of my comrades, always said I cried. Be that as it may, I never saw the like again.

Samuel Barron, 3rd Texas Cavalry - southern base of Bloody Hill - Gum was a shabby little man, mounted on a shabby little mustang pony; in fact his horse was so shabby that he would tie him, while we were at Dallas, away off in the brush in a ravine and carry his forage half a mile to feed him rather than have him laughed at....During the time we were kept slowly moving along in the rear of our infantry, engaged mainly in the unprofitable business of dodging balls and shells...,Captain Taylor...would frequently glance back, saying: "Keep your places, men." Gum, however, was out of place so often he finally became personal, "Keep in your place, Gum." At this Gum broke ranks and came trotting up on his little pony, looking like a monkey with a red cap on, for, having lost his hat, he had tied a red cotton handkerchief around his head. When opposite the captain he reined up, and with a trembling frame and in a quivering voice, almost crying, he said: "Captain, I can't keep my place. I am a coward, and I can't help it." Captain Taylor said, sympathetically: "Very well, Gum; go where you please."

Robert Young, orderly to Mosby Parsons - I have often read "The rivers ran with blood", but I came near seeing at Wilson Creek. Bleeding men and horses sought the creek that day, and in many places the stream was red with blood of friend and foe......Wilson Creek flowed, colored with the blood of as fine body of men as ever met in opposing columns.

Nearly every diary and news article of the time mentions the gray horse Lyon rode on, whenever they mentioned the General, before and during the battle. That gray horse had been raised from a colt by Capt Frederick Steele and he had given “Star’ to General Lyon as a gift.
Jasper Boyd, 1st Arkansas Inf, on Bloody Hill - I saw a Federal officer on a gray horse not far to the right of Totten's Battery. Several of our boys who had Mississippi Rifles, captured from the enemy at Neosho, took shots at him.
Capt Francis Herron, 1st Iowa, on Bloody Hill - ...saw his horse hit....It seemed to sink down as if vitally struck, neither plunging nor reeling....As he left his dead horse and limped along - for he had now been wounded in the leg - he looked stunned and white.…

General Nathaniel Lyon was killed later in the battle riding a bay horse that Major Sturgis left him after Star fell. On Bloody Hill today, there stands a single small monument, dedicated to Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union General killed during the Civil War. For years after the battle, visiting soldiers would pile rocks on the place where Star had fallen, as a memorial to Lyon.


In less than six hours, hundreds of horses had been killed, some family pets to the soldiers they had accompanied to the field of battle.

Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Mar 7, 2014
I can imagine it was extremely tough for most of the men to lose their personal horses. I've read Ware's account previously, but the rest are new to me. Thanks for posting.
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!