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
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.
General Samuel R. Curtis
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