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|Battle of Mine Creek, October 25, 1864
One of the largest cavalry engagements of the entire war was fought near the town of Trading Post, Kansas, on October 25, 1864. It proved to be the last major engagement of the War in the West.
On September 19, 1864, General Sterling Price led a Confederate army of about 12,000 men across the southern border of Missouri, with orders to "Rally the loyal men of Missouri" and fill his ranks with fresh recruits. If "compelled to withdraw from the State," Price was to make his "retreat through Kansas...sweeping that country of its mules, horses, cattle, and military supplies of all kinds."
Price's three divisions moved toward St. Louis. On September 27 they defeated a much smaller federal force at Pilot Knob. Confederate losses were heavy, however, so Price chose not to continue on to St. Louis. Turning west instead, he proceeded along the southern bank of the Missouri River, destroying sections of the railroad, and capturing several small towns as he moved toward the Kansas border. On October 8, upon learning of Price's movements, Kansas Governor Thomas Carney called out the state militia, and General Samuel R. Curtis combined the forces at his disposal to form the Army of the Border.
The fighting began for Kansas troops with a skirmish at Lexington, Missouri, on October 19. Confederates won several victories in the Kansas City area, including the Battle of the Big Blue on October 22. But the invading force was repulsed at Westport on October 23 and retreated down the state line. The following day General Curtis released most of the Kansas militia and reformed his army. General James G. Blunt commanded the First Division, and General Alfred Pleasonton commanded the Second Division. The total strength of this pursuing Union army was about 10,000 men -- all cavalry.
On October 24 the Confederate forces entered Kansas and camped on the Marais des Cygnes River, near the town of Trading Post. Early next morning General Pleasonton drove Price's rear-guard from the campsite. Price's force continued to retreat southward while engaging the Union Army.
Late in the morning, 7,000 Confederates under the command of General John Marmaduke were caught north of Mine Creek. They were protecting Price's supply train, which was having difficulty crossing the creek. Although the Union advance under Pleasonton numbered less than 2,500, the rebels were crushed by a furious cavalry charge. In the close fighting on the bottoms nearly 1,000 Confederate soldiers were killed or captured, including General Marmaduke, who was taken by a 20-year-old private. Union losses numbered about 100.
Price's wagon train was virtually destroyed during the battle and he was forced to abandon a planned attack on Fort Scott. After a short rest, Generals Curtis and Blunt renewed their pursuit of Price. On October 28 they handed Price his final defeat at Newtonia, Missouri. The rebel army recrossed the Arkansas River on November 8. For all practical purposes, the Civil War in the West was over.
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