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General Nathaniel Lyon
- Nathaniel Lyon was born July 14, 1818, in Ashford, Connecticut. He grew up there on his family’s farm.
- He faced hardship in his early childhood. When his eldest brother died unexpectedly, young Nathaniel was often the victim of his father’s misplaced anger.
- He attended West Point Military Academy and graduated 11th in his class in 1841. Afterward, he served in the Second Seminole War and the Mexican-American War.
- He was stationed in California during the Gold Rush and developed a reputation as an effective Indian fighter.
Kansas and Missouri
- After returning East for a short time, Lyon was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, in 1854, where the conflict known as “Bleeding Kansas” was at its height.
- Lyon sympathized with those opposed to slavery. In July 1854, he wrote to Capt. M. Knowlton, stating that he hoped the violence would “hardly keep back our hardy people [abolitionists], who I trust will come forth with strong hands and honest hearts to execute the high duties of humanity.”
- Lyon’s strong opposition to slavery was only surpassed by his dedication to the Union. When Lyon came to St. Louis in 1861, his dedication would be tested.
- Capt. Lyon was at the center of organizing Union supporters who would eventually be mustered into Federal service. He led these troops against the predominantly pro-South Missouri Volunteer Militia stationed at Camp Jackson.
- Afterward, he led Federal forces in driving from power the pro-South forces under Confederate general Sterling Price and Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson.
- He was victorious over the pro-South forces at Boonville before being defeated at Carthage. Although tactically insignificant, the battle helped to spark Southern recruiting.
- The final battle of the Lyon’s campaign was fought at Wilson’s Creek on August 10, 1861. When the battle ended, Lyon was dead.