“Joe Stiner (Joe Slinsworth)”


The singer, (Joe Stiner), has apparently recently arrived in the West when he is induced to join the army. After various adventures under General Lyon, the army he is with is defeated and he flees back to Saint Louis, vowing not to fight again


This song describes, with fair accuracy, the campaigns of Captain (later General) Nathaniel Lyon in 1861. The action takes place in Missouri, which was the northernmost of all slave states. Although a minority favored secession, most Missourians probably wanted to stay with the Union.

Governor Jackson, however, was not one of them. Having the machinery of state government at his back, he moved to take Missouri from the Union.

The Union governor, John C. Fremont, did little to prevent him, so Lyon, with the political support of Frank Blair, Jr., set out to circumvent him. Lyon captured the Missouri arsenal, then took Camp Jackson from Confederate General Frost. He then drove the Confederates in rout from Rolla.

Then Lyon made his mistake. He decided to risk his 5000 men against 10000 Confederates in a surprise attack. This might have worked (especially as Confederate generals Price and McCulloch hated each other), but Lyon's outflanking force (led by the inept Franz Sigel-- the Siegel of the song) was routed with small loss to the enemy.

The Confederates were now warned, and had a better than five-to-two numerical edge. Even so, the remnants of Lyon's little army held on all day, until their commander was killed. The senior surviving officer, Major (later General) Curtis, ordered a retreat.

Wilson's Creek was not really a costly battle by later standards; the forces involved were small, and so badly trained that they were almost unable to inflict casualties. But the campaign had been a hard one (it succeeded, all by itself, in preserving most of Missouri for the Union); it would not be surprising if a few soldiers refused ever to return to the army. - RBW

Historical references

  • Aug 10, 1861 - Battle of Wilson's Creek

Cross references


  1. Belden, pp. 362-363, "Joe Slinsworth" (1 text)
  2. Randolph 219, "Joe Stiner" (1 text)
  3. ADDITIONAL: Fred W. Allsopp, Folklore of Romantic Arkansas, Volume II (1931), p. 223, "(Joe Steinberg)" (1 fragment)
  4. Roud #3592
  5. BI, R219


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1904 (Belden)
Found in: US(So)