Nathaniel Lyon

Nathaniel Lyon (1818 - 1861)

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Gen Nathaniel Lyon
Born in Ashford, Windham, Connecticut, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
[spouse(s) unknown]
[children unknown]
Died in Springfield, Greene, Missouri, United Statesmap
Profile last modified 25 May 2020 | Created 5 Oct 2016 | Last significant change: 25 May 2020
15:32: Linda (Carruth) Peterson edited the Biography for Nathaniel Lyon (1818-1861). (Add source) [Thank Linda for this]
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Gen Nathaniel Lyon served in the United States Civil War.
Enlisted: March 1861
Mustered out: Aug 10, 1861 (DMS)
Side: USA
Regiment(s): Company B of the 2nd U.S. Infantry
Roll of Honor
Gen Nathaniel Lyon was Killed in Action, Wilson Creek, during the United States Civil War.
Image:Image file
1st LT Nathaniel Lyon served with the United States Army during the Mexican-American War
Service Started: 1841
Unit(s): 2nd U.S. Infantry
Service Ended:

Nathaniel Lyon was born July 14, 1818 at Ashford, Connecticut, the son of Amasa and Kezia (Knowlton) Lyon. He never married.

Military Career

He graduated from West Point in 1841, 11th in a class of of 52 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was assigned to the 2nd U.S. Infantry and was involved in the Mexican War where he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant at the Battle for Mexico City. He was then moved to the frontier where he participated in the Indian battle of Promo Lake, California and the Bloody Island Massacre. He was reassigned to Fort Riley, Kansas where he apparently became antislavery and began supporting the Republican Party.

Dates of Rank[1]

  • Cadet, United States Military Academy - July 1, 1837
  • 2nd Lieutenant, 2nd Infantry - July 1, 1841
  • 1st Lieutenant, 2nd Infantry - February 16, 1847
  • Brevet Captain - August 20, 1847
  • Captain, 2nd Infantry - June 11, 1851
  • Brigadier General, Missouri Volunteers - May 12, 1861
  • Brigadier General, US Volunteers - May 17, 1861.


General Lyon was killed in battle at Wilson's Creek at about 9:30 AM on Bloody Hill, he was 43 years of age. Lyon had been previously wounded twice and his life was taken on that fateful day, while positioning his troops.[2]He was the first Union General to be killed in the Civil War.[1]Victors in the Battle at Wilson's Creek were the Confederates, with Major Samuel Sturges withdrawing at 11:00 AM on the same day as General Lyon was killed. In the confusion, the General's body was left behind and was found by the Confederates and brought to the home of a local farming family by the name of John Ray and his wife Roxanna Steele Ray. The Ray's home was used as a Confederate hospital during the battle. There the body of General Nathaniel Lyon was wrapped in a coverlet and laid in the master bed until temporarily buried by Mrs. Phelps, the governor's wife, at Springfield until it could be recovered by his family and returned to Connecticut.

The coverlet that wrapped the body of General Lyon can be seen at the Wilson's Creek Museum near Springfield, Missouri.
NYGBR28 source indicates genealogy of Ephriam, Amasa, Nathaniel Lyon.


The funeral for General Nathaniel Lyon was held at The Congregational Church in Eastford, Connecticut on September 5, 1861. 15,000 people assembled to show their respect.[2]


The United States Congress passed a resolution of thanks for the "eminent and patriotic service" of General Lyon on December 24, 1861.[2]Lyon County in Southwestern Minnesota is named in his honor.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Wilson's Creek National Battlefield.
  • The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. New York, NY: New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, 1870-. (Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011.)Vol. 28, p. 76. "The Lyon Family of Windham, County, Connecticut" by Eugene F. McPike of Chicago, Illinois.subscription site.]
  • The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1847-. (Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2013.)Vol. 20, p. 97ff. April, 1866. "Memoir of General Nathaniel Lyon" by Ashbel Woodward, M.D. of Franklin Connecticut.subscription site.
  • Lyon Lyons, Albert Brown, 1841-1926; Lyons, G. W. A; Lyon, Sidney Elizabeth, 1846-; Miller, Robert B. Published 1905

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DNA Connections
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Nathaniel by comparing test results with other carriers of his ancestors' Y-chromosome or mitochondrial DNA. Y-chromosome DNA test-takers in his direct paternal line on WikiTree:
  • Rande Thorpe Find Relationship : Family Tree DNA Y-DNA Test 700 markers, haplogroup R-FT82986, FTDNA kit #B63883 + Y-Chromosome Test, haplogroup FT82986
It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with Nathaniel:

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Rejected matches › Nathaniel Lyon (1816-1863)

Nathaniel is 15 degrees from Donald Howard, 13 degrees from Julia Howe and 15 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.