Price’s Missouri Expedition – August-October, 1864 – Also known as Price’s Raid, this expedition through Missouri and Kansas occurred in the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the Civil War in the fall of 1864. It was led by Confederate Major General Sterling Price, who started from Camden, Arkansas, on August 28, 1864. The campaign intended to recapture St. Louis and recover Missouri for the Confederacy. The Confederate forces won several victories early in the campaign, but the tides changed after being defeated in Westport, Missouri. They then made their way to Kansas, where they lost the Battles of Marais des Cygnes and Mine Creek before they were forced to retreat to Missouri and ultimately to Arkansas.
Fort Davidson – September 27, 1864 – The first battle of Price’s Raid, the Battle of Fort Davidson, also called the Battle of Pilot Knob, occurred in Iron County, Missouri. In September 1864, a Confederate army under Major General Sterling Price crossed into Missouri from Arkansas to capture St. Louis. Union Brigadier General Thomas Ewing moved down the railroad to Ironton with reinforcements to slow Price’s advance. On September 27, 1864, the Confederates attacked, driving the Federals back into their defenses anchored by Fort Davidson. In the late afternoon, Price unsuccessfully assaulted the fort repeatedly, suffering heavy casualties. Considering the time involved, Price had dismissed the possibility of mounting guns on the high ground to compel the fort to surrender or to shell the garrison into submission. During the night, the Federals evacuated the fort. Price had paid a high price in lives, giving Union forces the necessary time to concentrate and oppose his raid. The Union victory resulted in 184 Union casualties and 1,500 Confederate casualties.
Fourth Battle of Boonville – October 11, 1864 – Occurring in Cooper County, Missouri, this was the second battle of Price’s Expedition. General Sterling Price’s Confederate forces arrived in Boonville, Missouri, on October 10, 1864. Even though the town was mainly sympathetic to the Confederacy, undisciplined members of Price’s force engaged in a two-day frenzy of looting that delayed their advance. In the meantime, Union forces were working on a strategy to defeat the Confederates. Union Brigadier General John B. Sanborn, who followed Price and his men, came upon Price’s rearguard outside Boonville on October 11. Still, he was repulsed by Confederate Major Generals John S. Marmaduke and James F. Fagan. Sanborn then withdrew south of Saline Creek. On the same day, “Bloody Bill” Anderson and his bushwhackers arrived in Boonville with Union scalps dangling from their horses’ bridles. Appalled, ordered Anderson to remove the scalps immediately and refused to speak to him until he did. Once Anderson complied, Price ordered him to take his men northward to break up the North Missouri Railroad. However, Anderson and other bushwhackers had already halted the railroad line, so he attacked and looted small towns and depots north of the Missouri River. On October 12, Price and his troops left Boonville.
Glasgow – October 15, 1864 – Part of Price’s Missouri Expedition, this battle occurred in Howard County on October 15, 1864. While Major General Sterling Price led his men westward across Missouri, he sent a detachment to Glasgow to liberate weapons and supplies in an arms storehouse purported to be there. This combined mounted infantry, cavalry, and artillery force laid siege to the town and the fortifications on Hereford Hill. Before dawn on October 15, Confederate artillery opened on the town, and Rebels advanced on Glasgow by various routes, forcing the Yankees to fall back. The Union forces retreated out of town and up the hill toward the fortifications on Hereford Hill. They formed a defensive line in this area, but the Confederates advanced. Convinced that he could not defend against another Confederate attack, Colonel Chester Harding surrendered around 1:30 pm. Although Harding destroyed some Federal stores, Price’s men found rifle-muskets, overcoats, and horses. The Confederates remained in town for three days before rejoining the main column with new supplies and weapons and marching toward Kansas City. The victory and capture of supplies and weapons boosted Price’s army’s morale. The Confederate victory resulted in 400 Union casualties and 50 Confederates.
Sedalia – October 15, 1864 – While Confederate Brigadier Generals John B. Clark and Joe Shelby were engaged in the Battle of Glasgow, General Price sent Brigadier General M. Jeff Thompson and elements of Shelby’s Iron Brigade, including about 1,500 men, to attack the town of Sedalia, Missouri. The Confederates defeated and captured the Missouri Union militia stationed there in two fortified redoubts, and then some of the Confederates’ troops began sacking the town. Realizing what was happening, Thompson ordered them to stop, permitting them to keep only the weapons, equipment, and horses he had already seized from the patroled defenders. Thompson and his men then left Sedalia to rejoin Price’s main force.
Lexington – 2 – October 19, 1864 – A battle of Price’s Missouri Expedition, this skirmish took place in Lafayette County on October 19, 1864. Major General Sterling Price’s march along the Missouri River was slow, allowing the Yankees to concentrate. Major General William S. Rosecrans, commanding the Department of the Missouri, proposed a pincer movement to trap Price and his army. However, he could not communicate with Major General Samuel R. Curtis, commander of the Department of Kansas, to formalize the plan. Curtis had problems because many of his Kansas militia troops refused to enter Missouri. A force of 2,000 men under Major General James G. Blunt’s command set out for Lexington. On October 19, Price’s army approached Lexington, collided with Union scouts and pickets at about 2:00 pm, drove them back, and fought with the main force. At first, the Yankees resisted, but Price’s army eventually pushed them through the town to the western outskirts and pursued them along the Independence Road until nightfall. The Yankees could not stop Price’s army without Curtis’s entire force, but they further retarded their slow march. Blunt gained valuable information about the size and disposition of Price’s army. The Confederate victory resulted in an unknown number of casualties.
Little Blue River – October 21, 1864 – Also called the Battle of Westport, this battle, taking place in Jackson County on October 21, 1864, was part of Price’s Missouri Expedition Price’s march along the Missouri River was slow, providing the Yankees a chance to concentrate Major General William S. Rosecrans, commanding the Department of the Missouri, proposed a pincer movement to trap Price and his army. Still, he could not communicate with Major General Samuel R. Curtis, commander of the Department of Kansas, to formalize the plan. Curtis was having problems because many of his troops were Kansas militia, who refused to enter Missouri. However, about 2,000 men under Major General James G. Blunt’s command set out for Lexington. He met the Confederate troops at Lexington on the 19th, slowed their progress, and defeated and retreated. On the 20th, Blunt’s troops arrived on the Little Blue River, eight miles east of Independence The Union forces prepared to engage the Confederates again in a solid defensive position on the west bank. Curtis, however, ordered Blunt into Independence while leaving a small force, under Colonel Thomas Moonlight, on the Little Blue. The next day, Curtis ordered Blunt to take all the volunteers and return to the Little Blue River. As he neared the stream, he discovered that Moonlight’s small force had burned the bridge as ordered, engaged the enemy, and retreated away from the strong defensive position occupied the day before, crossing the river. Blunt entered the fray and attempted to drive the enemy back beyond the defensive position he wished to reoccupy. The Yankees forced the Confederates to fall back initially, but their numerical superiority took its toll in the five-hour battle. The Federals retreated to Independence and went into camp there after dark. Once again, the Confederates had been slowed, and more Union reinforcements were arriving. The Confederate victory resulted in an unknown number of casualties.
Independence – 2 – October 22, 1864 – Part of Price’s Missouri Expedition, this skirmish took place in Jackson County on October 22, 1864. Major General Sterling Price’s army rode west toward Kansas City. On the night of the 21st, he camped at Independence and resumed his westward march the next morning with Brigadier General Joe Shelby’s division in the lead, followed by Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke’s division, with Brigadier General James Fagan’s division bringing up the rear While Shelby’s men met success at Byram’s Ford, the other two columns did not fare as well Major General Alfred Pleasonton’s Union force crossed the Little Blue, beat up a Rebel brigade in Fagan’s command, and occupied Independence Marmaduke’s division then met Pleasonton about two miles west of Independence, hit the Federals hard, pressed them back, and held them at bay until the morning of the 23rd Pleasonton’s actions, however, frightened Price and his army, and influenced them, after they had crossed the Big Blue, to send their wagon trains to Little Santa Fe on the Fort Scott Road. The Confederate victory resulted in 140 Confederate casualties; the number of Union casualties is unknown.
Byram’s Ford – October 22-23, 1864 – Also called the Battle of Big Blue River, this skirmish occurred in Jackson County, Missouri, as part of Price’s Missouri Expedition on October 22-23, 1864. Major General Sterling Price’s Army of Missouri was headed west towards Kansas City and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In and around Westport, Major General Samuel R. Curtis’s Army of the Border was blocking the Confederates’ way west. Major General Alfred Pleasonton’s provisional cavalry division pressed Price’s army’s rear. Price had nearly 500 wagons with him and required a good ford over the Big Blue River to facilitate the passage of his supplies. Byram’s Ford was the best in the area and became a strategic point during the fighting around Westport On October 22, Major General James G. Blunt’s division held a defensive position on the Big Blue River’s west bank Around 10:00 am on the 22nd, part of Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby’s Confederate division conducted a frontal attack on Blunt’s men This attack was a ruse because the rest of Shelby’s men flanked Blunt’s hasty defenses, forcing the Federals to retire to Westport Price’s wagon train and about 5,000 head of cattle then crossed the Big Blue River at Byram’s Ford and headed southward toward Little Santa Fe and safety Pleasonton’s cavalry was hot on the tail of Price’s army Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke’s Rebel division held the west bank of the Big Blue at Byram’s Ford to prevent Pleasonton from attacking Price’s rear Pleasonton assaulted Marmaduke at Byram’s Ford around 8:00 am on the 23rd Three hours later, Marmaduke’s men had enough and fell back toward Westport With Pleasonton across the river, he was now an additional threat to Price, who was fighting Curtis’s Army of the Border at Westport Price had to retreat south The number of casualties in the Union victory is unknown.
Westport – October 23, 1864 – Confederate Major General Sterling Price’s Missouri Expedition had changed course from St. Louis and Jefferson City to Kansas City and Fort Leavenworth. As his army neared Kansas City, Major General Samuel R. Curtis’ Army of the Border blocked its way west. At the same time, Major General Alfred Pleasonton’s provisional cavalry division closed on their rear. Price decided that he needed to deal with the two Union forces and decided to attack them one at a time. With Pleasonton still behind him, Price chose to strike Curtis at Westport. First, Curtis had established strong defensive lines, and during a four-hour battle, the Confederates hurled themselves at the Union forces but to no avail. The Rebels could not break the Union lines and retreated south. Westport was the decisive battle of Price’s Missouri Expedition, and from then on, the Rebels were in retreat. The estimated casualties in the Union victory were 1,500 for both Union and Confederates.
Battle of Trading Post/Marais des Cygnes – October 25, 1864 – Three battles occurred within several hours of each other on October 25, the first of which was the Battle of Marais des Cygnes. After losing the Battle of Westport, Price was in a headlong retreat while hotly pursued by Major-General Alfred Pleasonton’s Union cavalry.
The Union general caught up with the Confederates as they camped on the Marais des Cygnes River banks near Trading Post in Linn County, Kansas. After an artillery bombardment that began at 4:00 am, Pleasonton’s men launched a furious assault. Price ordered his troops to cross the swollen river, leaving Major General James F. Fagan to hold off the Federals until he could get his wagon train across. Although the Union captured two cannons and several prisoners, they could not escape Price’s force. The number of casualties in the Union victory is unknown Pleasonton continued his pursuit of Price, catching up with him again later that morning at Mine Creek.
Battle of Mine Creek – October 25, 1864 – The Battle of Mine Creek, Kansas, also known as the Battle of the Osage, was fought on October 25, 1864, as part of Price’s Raid. The second-largest cavalry engagement of the war was fought between two divisions of Confederate Major General Sterling Price’s Army of Missouri and two Federal brigades under the command of Colonels Frederick Benteen and John Finis Philips. About six miles south of Trading Post, the brigades of Benteen and Philips of Pleasonton’s division overtook Price’s Confederates as they were crossing Mine Creek. The Southerners had been stalled as their wagons crossed the swollen ford. They formed their battle line on the north side of Mine Creek. Although outnumbered, the Federals commenced a mounted attack led by the 4th Iowa Cavalry. One participant described it as bursting upon the Confederates “like a thunderbolt,” causing Price’s line to disintegrate “like a row of bricks” Superior Union firepower and the ferocity of their attack made up for their smaller numbers, and Pleasonton’s cavalry forced Price to retreat once more Approximately 600 of Price’s men, including two of his generals, John S. Marmaduke and Brigadier General William L. Cabell, were captured, together with six cannon.
Marmaton River – October 25, 1864 – Also called the Battle of Shiloh Creek or Charlot’s Farm, this skirmish occurred on October 25, 1864, as part of Price’s Missouri Expedition. Major General Sterling Price continued his cartage towards Fort Scott following the Battle of Mine Creek. In the late afternoon of October 25, Price’s supply train had difficulty crossing the Marmiton River ford, and, like at Mine Creek, Price had to make a stand Brigadier General John S. McNeil, commanding two brigades of Pleasonton’s cavalry division, attacked the Confederate troops that Price and his officers rallied, including a sizable number of unarmed men. Not knowing that many were unarmed, McNeil observed the sizable Confederate force and refrained from an all-out assault. After about two hours of skirmishing, Price continued his retreat, and McNeil could not mount an effective pursuit Price’s army was broken by this time. It was simply a question of how many men he could successfully evacuate to friendly territory. There was an unknown number of casualties in the Union victory.
Newtonia – 2 – October 28, 1864 – Fought in Newton County on October 28, 1864; this battle was part of Price’s Missouri Expedition Price’s force was in full retreat following its expedition into Missouri. On October 28, 1864, it stopped to rest about two miles south of Newtonia, Missouri. Soon afterward, Major General James G. Blunt’s Union troops surprised the Confederates and began to drive them. Brigadier General Joe Shelby’s division, including his Iron Brigade, rode to the front, dismounted, and engaged the Yankees. The other Rebel troops retreated towards Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Brigadier General John B. Sanborn later appeared with Union reinforcements which convinced Shelby to retire. The Union troops forced the Confederates to retreat but failed to destroy or capture them. The Union victory resulted in 400 Union casualties and 250 Confederate.
Compiled and edited by Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated May 2023.
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