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Nathaniel Lyon

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Nathaniel Lyon, 1818-1861.  Union Brigadier General.  Bold signature, N. Lyon, with rank and date, 1st Lt. 2d Infy and 1848.

This is a scarce signature of the first Union general killed during the Civil War.  Lyon died instantly when he was shot while leading a charge in an attempt to rally his heavily outnumbered forces at the Battle of Wilson's Creek, just outside of Springfield, Missouri, on August 10, 1861. 

Lyon's actions in taking control of the federal arsenal at St. Louis, keeping it out of the hands of pro-Confederate Missouri Governor Claiborne F. Jackson, and his subsequent pursuit of Jackson and the secessionist Missouri government likely saved Missouri, a border state, for the Union.  Lyon captured the state capital at Jefferson City and, when the secessionist government retreated west to Boonville, defeated part of the Missouri State Guard there, securing federal control of the Missouri River.  Jackson, the secessionist government, and the guard moved southwest, and Lyon installed a pro-Union government.  Lyon reinforced his troops and likewise moved southwest.

At dawn on August 10, Lyon's force, with 6,000 troops, attacked a combined Missouri, Arkansas, and Confederate force twice its size.  Lyon caught the secessionists by surprise, but the Union assault collapsed, and in the ensuing battle Lyon was killed.

Lyon's body was inadvertently left on the battlefield and fell into the hands of the secessionists, who returned it under a flag of truce to the Union.  Lyon was entombed in a temporary grave on the farm of a Union supporter, but his family subsequently moved his body to Eastford, Connecticut, where he is now buried.

Wilson's Creek was the first major battle of the Civil War west of the Mississippi River.  Although it was a Southern victory, Lyon's action neutralized the effectiveness of pro-Confederate forces in Missouri and allowed Union forces to secure the state. 

This signature is in very fine condition.  Lyon has boldly signed in brown ink.  The signature is tipped to a larger sheet on which a collector has noted Lyon's biographical information, which could be matted out if the signature were framed.  There is some bleeding from ink on the reverse side.  Overall the piece is in very fine condition.

Unframed.  Click here to ask about custom framing this piece.


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