Why Didn't Siegel follow up at Wilson's Creek

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gary

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In a rather bold move, Union Gen. Lyon divided his force in face of the enemy. He wanted a simultaneous attack on the Conferates and hoped to bloody him enough to allow for his smaller force to retreat without being hard pressed by the larger Confederates. So, Siegel's force was sent south to attack the Confederates from behind. Lyon advanced from the opposite direction.

Siegel managed to get behind the Confederates and repulsed their attack. However, he didn't follow up. Why? Banks was on his own when he was killed, leaving Sturgis in command. Sturgis was unassisted by Siegel and held off the Confederates, but was badly mauled. Anyway, the Union left the field to the Confederates, giving the Confederates their first victory in Missouri.

Why didn't Siegel follow up? Was he too bloodied himself? He advanced but was driven off by the Confederates in a second attack.
 

SWMODave

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In a rather bold move, Union Gen. Lyon divided his force in face of the enemy. He wanted a simultaneous attack on the Conferates and hoped to bloody him enough to allow for his smaller force to retreat without being hard pressed by the larger Confederates. So, Siegel's force was sent south to attack the Confederates from behind. Lyon advanced from the opposite direction.

Siegel managed to get behind the Confederates and repulsed their attack. However, he didn't follow up. Why? Banks was on his own when he was killed, leaving Sturgis in command. Sturgis was unassisted by Siegel and held off the Confederates, but was badly mauled. Anyway, the Union left the field to the Confederates, giving the Confederates their first victory in Missouri.

Why didn't Siegel follow up? Was he too bloodied himself? He advanced but was driven off by the Confederates in a second attack.
Gary, a few corrections in your account. Sigel is the one who convinced Lyon to split their already inferior force, and attack Price/McCulloch. Lyon, in overall command, bears responsibility for this mistake, and paid for it with his life, but the plan originated with Sigel.

Sigel did not repulse any attack during this engagement. His initial cannonade surprised a sleeping force in a field below the hill he was on, his second cannonade dispersed cavalry that was trying to form in that same field, and his third location was to set up a defensive line on the Sharp's property, where he was attacked and fled.

Why Sigel did not continue his initial attack was due to a few things. First, with the forces split, Sigel had no way of knowing what was going on with Lyon on Bloody Hill. With an inability to communicate with each other, both men were blind to what the other was accomplishing, or doing. Sigel had no way of knowing if Lyon had won, was advancing, or was beaten and retreating. Second, was uniform identification. The day before the battle, Sigel's men had camped near the First Iowa, many of whom were wearing their gray militia uniforms. This gray was similar to that of the 3rd Louisiana, a force who advanced down the wire road toward Sigel, and then attacked him. This was early in the war and the gray and blue designation, separating the armies, had yet to be established. Third, bad decisions by Sigel. Even his 'defensive line' was not set up properly and left his artillery exposed and vulnerable.

Sigel could have advanced past the Sharps house and into the Wilson's Creek valley, but in my opinion, he would have been chewed up. Missourians were handling Lyon on Bloody Hill so McCulloch had all of the Arkansas and CSA forces available to attack Sigel, and keep Sigel from coming up behind Price's Missourian's. As it was, he only needed the 3rd Louisiana and a part of the 2nd Arkansas to defeat Sigel, but he had more he could have brought to bear, if he had needed them.

The moment Lyon agreed to Sigel's plan, he lost the battle - in my opinion. Lee and Jackson were able to pull it off at Chancellorsville for two reasons that did not apply at Wilson's Creek. First, Jackson, who had the advantage of surprise, attacked, attacked and kept attacking, never allowing the Federals the time to fully regroup. Sigel - not so much. Second, if you attack a superior force, twice as big, and surprise them, you need to leave them the option and way to retreat. This worked in Stonewall's advantage as panicked Federals where nearly as effective as his forces in breaking up hastily set up Federal defensive lines. Panic leads to more panic, and trapping a panicked enemy leads to desperation. Desperation can go one of two ways.

Lee and Jackson made a bold move. Lyon and Sigel , I would probably use a different adjective :rolleyes:
 
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mofederal

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Basically Sigel did what he usually did. He ran and his troops ran with him. Then he switched to other tactic, lie to the press about his actions. He was caught in these lies by several different newspapers. He ran in nearly every battle he fought in except one, Pea Ridge. In the others he exhibited a sub par performance.
 
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gary

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Sigel displayed a masterful handling of artillery at Pea Ridge. Then again, being European, he would have known about Napoleon's Grand Battery and lucked out that the Confederates sheltered themselves among the rocks where shards proved very deadly. Wellington would have sheltered his men on the reverse slope (like at Waterloo).
 

4th-MSM

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I was going to post a reply but @SWMODave already explained it better than I could have.

One thing I find interesting about Sigel's plan, is a what if scenario that could have occurred before the battle even started. While Lyon was marching towards the encampment on Wilson's Creek via smaller roads to the North and Sigel was marching in from the South, Price and McCulloch had actually planned to march toward Springfield via the Wire Road on the same night. Of course, they didn't because the possibility of rain and getting their powder wet, but it would have been interesting to know if Lyon/Sigel and Price/McCulloch would have detected one another during the march or if they would have swapped positions without even realizing it until later.

Also, just a note in regards to Wilson's Creek being the first Confederate victory in Missouri - while the Missouri State Guard wasn't actually part of the Confederacy, Union forces under Sigel were defeated by them at Carthage, Missouri about a month prior to Wilson's Creek.
 

Borderruffian

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" I goes to run mitt SIGEL!"

Sigel wasn't that much of a general except in his own mind. when his advance fell apart he high tailed it towards Springfield dressed in a privates uniform ala Santa Anna. ......But he was a rallying point for the "Dutch" so he was kept around lest the Germans decided they wouldn't fight for the union.
His later performance at Pea Ridge was no great showing of the Tuetonic military skill either.
 
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