Resume of military operations in Missouri and Arkansas, 1864-65.
The capture of Fort Smith
by General Blunt
, and of Little Rock
by General Steele
, early in September, 1863 [see “The conquest of Arkansas
III., p. 441], put the Arkansas River
, from its mouth to its junction with the Grand
and Verdigris rivers
, into the possession of the Federal
This general advance of the Federal
line forced General Price
to fall back with his army from his fortified positions around Little Rock
, in the southern part of the State
Having now no threatened positions of importance to hold, the Confederate
generals in Arkansas
were free to use their mounted troops and light artillery in attacking and threatening with attack the small posts and lines of communication in the rear of the Federal
On his retreat from Little Rock
[see map, p. 348], Price
detached General Joseph O. Shelby
with a brigade from Marmaduke
's cavalry division and a battery of light artillery to make a raid into Missouri
, hoping by this diversion to cause the withdrawal of at least part of the Federal
troops from the Arkansas valley
, with his brigade of upward of two thousand men1
and with two pieces of artillery, crossed the Arkansas River
on the 27th of September, moved north rapidly, entered south-west Missouri
about the 1st of October, and captured the post of Neosho
with a detachment of the Missouri State militia stationed there, and paroled them.
he moved north, and, with scarcely any opposition, reached the vicinity of Marshall
in central Missouri
, where he encountered General E. B. Brown
with a force of the State
the 13th of October, after a sharp fight of several hours, Shelby
was defeated, his artillery captured, and his command dispersed.
General Thomas Ewing, Jr.
, commanding the District of the Border, on hearing of the advance of the Confederate
raiding force into central Missouri
, marched with a force of about two thousand men from Kansas City
to join General Brown
, and picked up some of Shelby
's demoralized command in their retreat toward the Kansas
Having suffered this reverse, Shelby
's next object was to get out of the State
in as good shape as possible, and at once he commenced a hasty retreat south.
He was pursued day and night by Ewing
, in an exciting chase of upward of two hundred miles, and until his command lost all cohesion in the mountainous regions of Arkansas
Thus western Missouri
was not only relieved for the remainder of the year 1863 of Shelby
's raiding force, but also of Quantrill
's murderous band of guerrillas, who, on the 20th of August, had burned the city of Lawrence, Kansas
, and murdered 150 of her citizens in cold blood; and on the 6th of October had killed some 80 of Blunt
's escort at Baxter Springs, Kansas
, most of whom were first wounded and fell into his hands.
During the winter of 1863-64 the forces of Generals Steele
held the Arkansas River
as a Federal line of advance.
The winter was so cold that no important aggressive operations were attempted.
During this period of inactivity, however, Steele
was making preparations for a vigorous spring campaign.
It was decided that the column under General Banks
and the columns under General Steele
from Little Rock
and Fort Smith
should converge toward Shreveport, Louisiana
The Federal columns under Steele
left Little Rock
and Fort Smith
the latter part of March, moved toward the southern part of the State
, and after some fighting and manoeuvring drove General Price
's forces from Camden
, and Washington
In the midst of these successful operations, Steele
received information that Banks
's army had been defeated and was retreating2
[see p. 354], and that Price
had received reenforcements from Kirby Smith
of 8000 infantry and. a complement of artillery, and would at once assume the offensive.
Not feeling strong enough to fight the combined Confederate forces, Steele
determined to fall back upon Little Rock
He had scarcely commenced his retrograde movement when Smith
began to press him vigorously.
A retreating fight was kept up for several days, until the Federal
army reached Jenkins's Ferry on the Saline River
Here the swollen condition of the stream and the almost impassable swamp on the opposite side held Steele
's forces until his trains were crossed over on the pontoons.
While he was thus detained, on the 30th of April, Smith
came up and attacked him with great energy.
The battle raged furiously nearly half a day, when the Confederate army was repulsed with heavy loss and withdrew from the field.
crossed the river without further opposition and retired leisurely to Little Rock
, with all his army except the division under General John M. Thayer
, which was sent back to Fort Smith
was so badly beaten that he made no effort to pursue the Federal
forces north of Saline River
After the battle of Jenkins's Ferry, instead of making preparations to attack the Federal
forces at Little Rock
and Fort Smith
commenced organizing his forces for an expedition into Missouri
, to be led by him in person.
The Confederate troops under Cooper
, and Gano
, in the Indian Territory
and western Arkansas
, were to make demonstrations against Fort Smith
and Fort Gibson
, and the line of communication between those points and Kansas
, while another part of the Confederate army was to threaten Little Rock
's army for the invasion of Missouri
numbered some 15,0003
men and 20 pieces of artillery before crossing the Arkansas River
, and consisted of three divisions, commanded by Generals Fagan
, and Shelby
These troops were mostly veterans, having been in active service since the first year of the war. About the 1st of September, while strong demonstrations were being made against Fort Smith
and Little Rock
, with his army, crossed the Arkansas River
about half-way between those points at Dardanelle
, and marched to the northern part of the State
without opposition, and, in fact, without his movements being definitely known to General Rosecrans
, who then commanded the Department of the Missouri at St. Louis
When the Confederate forces entered Missouri
they were met by detachments of the State
militia, who captured several Confederate prisoners, from whom it was ascertained that the invading force was much larger than had been supposed, and that Price
was marching direct for St. Louis
Rosecrans at once commenced collecting his forces to meet and check the enemy.
General Thomas Ewing, Jr.
, was in command of the District
of South-east Missouri
. Pilot Knob
, near Iron Mountain
[see map, Vol I., p. 263], was a post of importance, with fortifications of considerable strength, and was on Price
's direct line of march to St. Louis
, which was only eighty-six miles distant.
Finding that General Price
was certainly advancing toward St. Louis
, in order to defend Pilot Knob
, drew in the detachments of his command stationed at different points in south-east Missouri
As the Federal
forces around and in the vicinity of St. Louis
were considered inadequate to defend the city against the reported strength of Price
's veteran army, on the request of Rosecrans General A. J. Smith
's veteran division of the Army
of the Tennessee
, 4500 strong, passing up the Mississippi River
to join Sherman
's army, was detained at Cairo
to assist in checking the advance of the Confederate army.
arrived before Pilot Knob
in the afternoon of September 26th, and skirmished until night with detachments of Federal cavalry, which had been thrown out to meet his advance.
had 1051 men at that post, which were only enough to man the works.
Having got his troops and artillery all up, Price
opened the attack on the fort at daylight on the 27th, and kept it up all day with great resolution.
's well-served artillery of eleven pieces and his thousand small-arms repulsed every assault made by the Confederates
When night came, however, Ewing
was satisfied that he could not hold out another day against the superior attacking force, and he determined to evacuate the fort.
Shortly after midnight his troops marched out, and a few moments later his magazine was blown up, and the ammunition which could not be taken along was destroyed.
then marched with his force and joined the troops engaged in the defense of St. Louis
and of Jefferson City
On hearing the explosion of the magazine, Price
suspected the retreat of the garrison, and immediately ordered his generals to start in pursuit.
Continuing his march north with his army he came up and attacked the defenses of St. Louis
some miles south of the city, but was repulsed by General A. J. Smith
's veterans and other troops, and then changed his line of march and moved westward toward Jefferson City
, the State
's plans were not definitely known, his movements indicated that he would endeavor to take Jefferson City
determined not to allow the State
capital to fall into the hands of the invader, and not only called out the enrolled militia of central Missouri
for its defense, but also ordered General John B. Sanborn
, commanding the District
of South-west Missouri
, and General John McNeil
, commanding the District of Rolla, to march to its defense with their available forces, with the least possible delay.
General E. B. Brown
and General Clinton B. Fisk
, commanding districts in central
and north Missouri
, were also directed to bring forward to Jefferson City
all the State
militia that could be spared from their respective districts.
moved forward and attacked the capital, but as he was closely pursued by the Federal
forces from St. Louis
he was soon driven off, and continued his march westward up the south side of the Missouri River
His next objects were understood to be the capture of Kansas City
, and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
, and more particularly the invasion and desolation of Kansas
He conscripted and pressed into service every man and youth found at home able to bear arms.5 Major-General S. R. Curtis
, commanding the Department of Kansas and the Indian Territory
, the moment he was advised of the approaching storm, began collecting all his forces along the eastern border of the State
south of Kansas City
, and urged Governor Carney
, of Kansas
, to call out the militia to cooperate with the volunteers in resisting the threatened invasion.
In response to the governor's call, twenty-four regiments of militia were hastily organized, and took position along the eastern line of the State
Early in these preparatory operations for the defense of the border, Major-General George Sykes
commanding the District of South Kansas, was, at his own request, relieved, and Major-General James G. Blunt
was placed in command.
As soon as information was received that Price
had been driven from Jefferson City
and was moving westward, Curtis
took the field in person to direct the operations of their forces in defense of the border.
took the available force of the volunteers and several sections of artillery, and moved down to Lexington
, some forty miles, to meet and hold the enemy as long as possible, so that Rosecrans
's forces in pursuit from St. Louis
and Jefferson City
, under Generals Alfred Pleasonton7
and A. J. Smith
, could come up and attack Price
in the rear.
On the afternoon of October 20th Price
's advance under Shelby
came within sight of Lexington
on the south side of the city.
Sharp fighting at once commenced between the opposing forces, and lasted until night, when Blunt
, having ascertained the strength of the enemy, fell back to Little Blue River
, a few miles east of Independence, to form a new line of battle.
As this stream was fordable at different points above and below where the Independence
road crossed it, Blunt
's forces, under Colonel Thomas Moonlight
, were obliged, on the 21st, to abandon the position taken up behind it after an engagement with Shelby
's division, lasting several hours, and fall back behind the Big Blue River
, a few miles west of Independence.
Here a new line of battle was formed with all Curtis
's available troops, including most of the Kansas State militia, who had consented to cross the State
line into Missouri
determined to hold Price
east of the Big Blue as long as practicable in the hope of receiving assistance from Rosecrans
, who, it was thought, was following close upon the rear of the Confederate army.
's forces were thus fighting and skirmishing with the enemy over nearly every foot of the ground from Lexington
to Big Blue, Pleasonton
's provisional cavalry division of Rosecrans
's army was marching day and night from Jefferson City
to overtake the invading force.
On the 22d, just as Curtis
's troops were being driven from the line of the Big Blue back upon the State
line and Kansas City
's cavalry came up and attacked the rear of Price
's army, east of Independence, and routed it and drove it in great disorder through the town.
Pleasonton at once sent a messenger to Curtis
, announcing his presence upon the field.
The night of the 22d Price
's army encamped on the west side of the Big Blue, just south of Westport
's cavalry encamped that night around and in the neighborhood of Independence, east of the Big Blue.
's forces were encamped from Kansas City
and along the State
line west of Westport
At daylight on the 23d the columns of Pleasonton
began to move west, and those of Curtis
to move south, and in a short time afterward they became warmly engaged with the Confederates
, who were drawn up in the line of battle two and a half miles south of Westport
The opposing armies fought over an area of five or six square miles, and at some points the fighting was furious.
At times there were as many as forty or fifty guns throwing shot and shell and grape and canister.
About the middle of the afternoon Price
's lines began to give way, and by sundown the entire Confederate army was in full retreat southward along the State
line, closely pursued by the victorious Federal forces.
In the meanwhile General A. J. Smith
was bringing forward his division of veteran infantry on forced marches from Lexington
, but, receiving information that the Confederate army was retreating down the border, changed his line of march to move via Pleasant Hill
, to head off Price
and bring him to a stand.
When, however, General Smith
's division reached a point some four miles south-west of Harrisonville
, he ascertained that Price
had already passed on southward down the line road.
After the battle near Westport
the cavalry of Curtis
kept up the pursuit and was constantly engaged in skirmishing with the Confederate
rear column until the Southern
forces arrived at the Marais des Cygnes River.
was obliged to make a stand to get his artillery and trains across the river.
After being driven from this position he formed a line of battle on the 25th., a few miles south of the Marais des Cygnes, near Mine Creek
, in Linn County, Kansas
, placing his artillery, supported by a large force, on a high mound in the prairie.
The Federal cavalry coming up charged his position with great gallantry, broke his line, captured nearly all his artillery, ten pieces, and a large number of prisoners, among them Generals Marmaduke
and many other officers of lower rank.
In his retreat from this position Price
was closely pursued by the Federal
cavalry, his rear-guard being almost constantly under fire.
His army encamped that night on the Marmiton River
, about eight miles nearly east of Fort Scott
, which place he had intended to capture with the large depot of Government supplies.
Having lost most of his artillery, about midnight he blew up such of his artillery ammunition as was unsuitable for the guns which he still had. The troops of Curtis
, who reached Fort Scott
that night and replenished their haversacks and cartridge-boxes, heard the loud explosion.
From Fort Scott
the pursuit was. continued by Curtis
's forces under Blunt
, and by Rosecrans
's cavalry under Sanborn
in south-west Missouri
, on the 28th of October, Price
made another stand, and was attacked by the pursuing forces named, and finally driven from the field with heavy loss.
This was next to the severest battle of the campaign.
, and some of the Missouri
troops, continued the pursuit to the Arkansas River
, but Price
did not again attempt to make a stand.
His line of march from Westport
was strewn with the debris of a routed army.
He crossed the Arkansas River
above Fort Smith
with a few pieces of artillery, with his army demoralized and reduced by captures and dispersion to perhaps less than 5000 men. Most of the noted guerrilla, bands followed him from the State
raid,” as it was called in the West
, was the last military operation of much consequence that took place in Missouri
It is certain that Price
lost more than he gained in war material and that the raid did not tend to strengthen the Confederate
cause in the West
He did not capture and take off a single piece of cannon on his raid.
Large numbers of the men he conscripted and pressed into service during the raid left him at the first opportunity and returned to their homes, or were picked up by the Federal
cavalry and paroled.
[In General Price
's report occurs the following summary of the campaign: “ I marched 1434 miles, fought 43 battles and skirmishes, captured and paroled over 3000 Federal officers and men, captured 18 pieces of artillery, 3000 stand of small-arms, 16 stand of colors, . . . a great many wagons and teams, large numbers of horses, great quantities of subsistence and ordnance stores, . . . and destroyed property to the cost of $10,000,000. . . . I lost 10 pieces of artillery.
2 stand of colors, 1000 small-arms, while I do not think I lost 1000 prisoners. . . . I brought with me at least 5000 recruits.”--editors.]
Surrender of the Tennessee, battle of Mobile Bay. |
The Brooklyn after the battle of Mobile.
From a sketch made at the time. |