Campaign: Price’s Missouri Expedition (1864)
Date(s): October 25, 1864
Principal Commanders: Colonel John F. Phillips and Lieutenant Colonel Frederick W. Benteen [US]; Maj. Gen. Sterling Price [CS]
Forces Engaged: 1st Division, Army of the Border [US]; Army of Missouri [CS]
Estimated Casualties: Unknown
Description: "The victorious Union leaders paused to decide what to do next. Price's withdrawal, it was clear, threatened the Federal positions and supply routes from Fort Scott to forts Gibson and Smith on the Arkansas River. On October 24, determined to destroy Price's force, Curtis and Pleasonton took off in pursuit with about 7,000 men. That night, Price camped on the Kansas side of the border about twenty-five miles north of Fort Scott, Pleasonton's advance brigade under General Sanborn came on the Confederates, but a rainstorm and the darkness prevented contact between the two sides. Just before dawn, a brisk skirmish occurred at the crossing of the Marais des Cygnes River. Price's men, thrown into disorder, left some guns behind, but managed to get away".
"Led by Shelby's division, the Confederates hurried a few miles across a prairie to the crossing of Mine Creek, a tributary of the Marais des Cygnes. Following closely in their rear was Pleasonton's cavalry, now led by two brigades under Colonel John F. Phillips and Lieutenant Colonel Frederick W. Benteen, the latter destined, twelve years later, to be one of the survivors of Custer's 7th Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana. Shelby's division and part of the wagon train got across Mine Creek, but then several wagons became mired and overturned, blocking the crossing. In the dangerous situation, with the Federal cavalry almost on top of them, Fagan and Marmaduke extended their divisions of almost 8,000 mounted men in a defensive line along the northern bank of the creek".
"In a few moments, Phillips and Benteen, at the head of 2,600 blue-coated troopers, appeared across the prairie and, surveying the scene, ordered an immediate charge against the Southerners' line. It began with a roar, but suddenly, as if swept by fear, the first line of Federal cavalrymen faltered and pulled up. Just behind them, in the second line, Major Abial R. Pierce, commanding the 4th Iowa, screamed at his men to continue the charge. Galloping past the hesitant first line, the Iowans headed toward the waiting Confederates. The whole Union force started up again in a thunderous charge. Seconds later, 2,600 men and horses crashed into the two Confederate divisions, exploding their line with such fury that, as an Iowa trooper later wrote, "it all fell away like a row of bricks" For a few moments, men fought each other with pistols and slashing savers. Then the Confederates turned and fled. The "enemy was completely routed and driven in the wildest confusion from the field," Benteen reported. About 500 confederates were killed or wounded and 560 captured, including Generals Marmaduke and Cabell. In the debacle, Price lost eight more of his artillery pieces and numerous wagons."
Source Heritage Preservation Services, National Park Service: http://www2.cr.nps.gov/abpp/battles/mo026.htm
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