The Skirmish at Dug Springs took place along the Wire Road near current day Clever, Missouri.
For the night of Aug 1, Union Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon’s forces camped in and around Wilson Creek. Because of reports that Missouri State Guard Brigadier General James S. Rains had 3,000 men southwest near Dug Springs, Lyon decided to form a battalion out of his regular army units. On August 2nd, Lyon placed them under the command of Captain Frederick Steele and sent them southwest down the Wire Road to determine the enemy strength. Lyon sent a section from Totten’s Battery to accompany Steele’s force. Steele established his defense line just south of Dug Springs. He deployed the guns from Totten’s Battery on the high ground just to either side of the Wire Road.The Missouri summer continued hot with temperatures soaring over 100 °F. Lyon’s forces struggled to march the short distance from their camps at Wilson Creek to Dug Springs.
In the meantime, Confederate Brigadier General Ben McCulloch had a hard time believing reports that the entire Union Army was to his immediate front. He decided to send his trusted lieutenant, Colonel James McIntosh, to scout out the enemy forces. McIntosh went forward with Rains and was able to see the Federal encampments off in the distance. McIntosh reminded Rains about McCulloch’s orders not to engage the enemy forces and then left to report his findings to McCulloch. Rains continued to probe the Federal positions.
Sometime between 4:00 and 6:00 P.M. on August 2nd, some of Rains cavalry units began skirmishing with Steele’s infantry units. Totten’s battery began firing cannister into the enemy lines. Captain David S. Stanley commanding a company of troopers from the 1st US Cavalry ordered a charge into the enemy. Rains’ forces panicked and fled back down the Wire Road back to the Southern camps. The Confederate troops would refer to this episode as “Rains’ Scare” and it served to add to McCulloch’s feelings that he could not count on the Missouri State Guard troops. The skirmish added to the rift that existed between McCulloch and Major General Sterling Price of the Missouri State Guard.