I. An Earnest Meeting
  • I. An Earnest Meeting:

    Sterling Price

    June 20, 1864
    Camden, Arkansas,
    Headquarters, Confederate District of Arkansas

    The dining hall of a plantations mansion in the outskirts of the city. It is late evening and the room is only dimly lit by candles. Three men are hunching over the dining table which is covered by a large topographic map. On a side table lays a discarded dispatch. The attendees are: Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the Confederate Trans-Mississippi-Department; Thomas Caute Reynolds, Missouri governor-in-exile and Sterling Price, commander of the Missouri State Guard and Confederate major general.

    Reynolds: I am no military man, but to me this operation seems to be... ambitious, to say the least.

    Kirby Smith: It is downright ludicrous. There is no army with the means to drive all the way east to Louisville and liberate two entire states on the march. And I would not be the man to lead it. My duty is here, to administer the whole trans-mississippi region. I can not simply leave. This captain seems to have way too much leisure.

    Price: Gentlemen, you are both right in most regards. We can not take this whole proposal seriously to the last letter. But this fellow certainly has a point concerning the great picture. A larger scale expedition...

    Kirby Smith: Which you would be all to eager to lead, General Price?

    Reynolds: You seem to focus first and foremost on pleasing the spirit of your soldiers... and definitely yourself!

    Price: Gentlemen, hear me on! I know, we had our differences and certainly we had misconceptions about eachother's aims. General Kirby Smith, sir, your opinion differed from mine regarding the pursuit of Steele's, but nonetheless I have defeated him. Governor Reynolds, you believe it is my dream to conquer myself a neat military dictatorship, but my only wish is, to parade you triumphantly to the state house of Jefferson City and bring you back from exile. This cause, our freedom, our independence and our southern way of life is in a dire state. And based on this letter I can formulate a plan to decidingly even the odds.

    Kirby Smith: Go on, General Price, you have attracted my attention.

    Price: Instead of just opportunisticly marching into Missouri for purposes of recruitment and supplies, let us strike swiftly towards Jefferson City and St. Louis. When we have taken the capital and the second largest city of the state, volunteers will flock to our side by the thousands. Afterwards we cross the Mississippi in large strength, march south through the lush, unmolested countryside of Illinois, wade through the Ohio and head straight on Nashville. We might very well negate all the gains the federals have made in the last two years and we can give those northerners a taste of what it means to be invaded.

    Reynolds: I can see the possible merits of this idea...

    Kirby Smith (after pondering about the proposal for several minutes): General Price, I believe you are right. To alter the course of this war, we have to take drastic measures and to shoot for the stars, if need be. But you have to consider, that we cannot allow that a hostile army remains in the vicinity while we strip the department of troops. This means you will have to deal with Steele and Little Rock first. To accomplish this grand scheme, I will provide you with another two brigades. This means you will go into this operation with twelve brigades of infantry as well as Fagan's, Shelby's and Marmaduke's cavalry divisions.

    Price: Thank you sir, I am grateful for this opportunity. But I will have to reorganize the troops in a fashion to accomplish these new goals. The large presence of cavalry might not be suitable for a proper invasion.

    Kirby Smith: The composition of the troops is up to you, but we have to strike swiftly to be effective. You are going to move out as soon as you are prepared. Governor Reynolds, I would like the location of our next meeting to be your residence in Jefferson City!
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    II. Preparations
  • II. Preparations:


    Before Price could make his return into Missouri, there were still several things to be done, especially concerning the organisation of his troops. He needed to piece together an army not only for the purpose of raiding the countryside but to liberate an entire state. He had to make a long march from south of the Arkansas River through rugged and punishing terrain, but most importantly, he had to destroy the sizable Union force in Arkansas under the command of Frederick Steele, who was now located in the direct vecinity of Little Rock.

    Price began his final planning for the expedition directly after the assembly with Reynolds and Kirby Smith on June 20. He wasted little time and called for a series of meetings with several high-ranking officers to structure his army. Present were at that time in and around Camden the infantry divisions of John G. Walker, Thomas J. Churchill and Mosby Parsons as well as the cavalry divisions of John S. Marmaduke, Joseph Shelby and James F. Fagan.

    Especially the cavaly was in a deplorable state, because there was a severe shortage of horses and mules. Despite a windfall of captured animals from the Red River campaign, hundreds of men in those three divisions had no horses, and thousands more rode mules. Just as problematical, the overall quality of many animals could only be described as marginal. Active campaigning and hard riding lay behind them and scores of animals were worn down and needed rest.

    This led Price to a fateful decision: Marmaduke's and Shelby's divisions were to dismount and enter the campaign as infantry, while only Fagan would form the army's mounted wing. This not only freed up thousands of animals for the wagon train, but provided the infantry with a larger mass of experienced troops to deliver a real punch in battle. Based on this decision, Price formed his units into two corps of infantry and one cavalry division.

    Command of the I. Corps was given to Major General Mosby Parsons and the force was nearly exclusively comprised of Missourians. His own division would now serve under Brigadier General John B. Clark and consisted of two brigades under Colonels Charles S. Mitchell and Simon P. Burns. The next division, Brigadier General Joseph Shelby's, incorporated his own Iron Brigade under Colonel David Shanks as well as a brigade under Colonel Sidney D. Jackman, who had been a bushwhacker once before. The third division served under Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke and consisted of another two brigades under Colonels Colton Greene and Thomas R. Freeman. Rounding up the corps were four full batteries of artillery. Therefore the command fielded about 9,200 men and 24 guns.

    Command of the II. Corps was given to Major General John G. Walker and was comprised of Texas and Arkansas troops. Walker's former division was now commanded by the illustrous Major General Camille A. J. M. Prince de Polignac and consisted of the division's original three Texas brigades under Brigadier General Thomas N. Waul and Colonels Philip N. Luckett and Oran M. Roberts as well as an additional brigade of dismounted Texas cavalry under Colonel Michael Looscan, which had been provided by Kirby Smith. The second division, Brigadier General Thomas J. Churchill's, incorporated four Arkansas brigades under Brigadier Generals James C. Tappan, Alexander T. Hawthorn, Thomas P. Dockerty and Colonel Lucien C. Gause. Dockerty's brigade was reassigned by Kirby Smith as well. With three additional batteries of artillery, the corps fielded about 10,500 men and 18 guns.

    As mentioned before, the cavalry was commanded by Major General James F. Fagan with brigades under Brigadier General William L. Cabell and Colonels Archibald S. Dobbins, William F. Slemons and Thomas H. McCray, all in all nearly 6,200 troopers.

    The assignments were not only based on seniority, but served practical purposes as well. Price had, for example, feuded with Marmaduke for years. Therefore it was not unwise to not put him under his direct authority but to interpose a corps commander to mitigate conflicts.

    Therefore Sterling Price's forces were organized in the following order of battle:

    Army of the West, Major-General Sterling Price, 25.900 men:

    I. Corps, Major-General Mosby Parsons, 9.200 men

    Clark's Division, Brigadier-General John B. Clark jr., 2.200 men

    Mitchell's Brigade, Colonel Charles S. Mitchell, 800 men
    8th, 9th Missouri Infantry, Ruffner's Missouri Infantry Battalion

    Burns' Brigade, Colonel Simon P. Burns, 1.400 men
    10th, 11th, 12th, 16th Missouri Infantry, 9th Missouri Infantry Battalion

    Shelby's Division (dismounted), Brigadier-General Joseph Shelby, 3.100 men

    Iron Brigade, Colonel David Shanks, 1.400 men
    5th, 11th, 12th Missouri Cavalry, Elliott's Missouri Cavalry, Crisp's Missouri Cavalry Battalion

    Jackman's Brigade, Colonel Sidney D. Jackman, 1.700 men
    Hunter's, Jackman's Missouri Cavalry, Schnable's, Williams' Missouri Cavalry Battalion, 46th Arkansas Infantry

    Marmaduke's Division (dismounted), Brigadier-General John S. Marmaduke, 3.900 men

    Greene's Brigade, Colonel Colton Greene, 1.200 men
    3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th, 10th Missouri Cavalry, 14th Missouri Cavalry Battalion

    Freeman's Brigade, Colonel Thomas R. Freeman, 2.700 men
    Freeman's, Fristoe's Missouri Cavalry, Ford's Arkansas Cavalry Battalion


    Harris' Missouri Battery
    Collins' Missouri Battery
    Connor's Missouri Battery
    Lesueur's Missouri Battery

    II. Corps, Major-General John G. Walker, 10.500 men

    Polignac's Division, Major-General Camille A. J. M. Prince de Polignac, 5.600 men

    Waul's Brigade, Brigadier-General Thomas N. Waul, 1.300 men
    8th, 18th, 22nd Texas Infantry, 13th Texas Cavalry (dismounted)

    Luckett's Brigade, Colonel Philip N. Luckett, 1.600 men
    3rd, 16th, 17th, 19th Texas Infantry, 16th Texas Cavalry (dismounted)

    Roberts' Brigade, Colonel Oran M. Roberts, 1.100 men
    11th, 14th Texas Infantry, 28th Texas Cavalry (dismounted), Gould's Texas Infantry Battalion

    Looscan's Brigade, Colonel Michael Looscan, 1.600 men
    15th, 17th, 22nd, 31st, 34th Texas Cavalry (dismounted)

    Churchill's Division, Brigadier-General Thomas J. Churchill, 4.900 men

    Tappan's Brigade, Brigadier-General James C. Tappan, 1.600 men
    24th, 27th, 33rd, 38th, Hardy's Arkansas Infantry

    Gause's Brigade, Colonel Lucien C. Gause, 1.000 men
    26th, 32nd, 36th Arkansas Infantry

    Hawthorn's Brigade, Brigadier-General Alexander T. Hawthorn, 1.300 men
    34th, 35th, 37th, Cocke's Arkansas Infantry

    Dockerty's Brigade, Brigadier-General Thomas P. Dockerty, 1.000 men
    18th, 19th, 20th Arkansas Infantry, 12th Arkansas Infantry Battalion


    Hynson's Texas Battery
    Hughey's Arkansas Battery
    Blocher's Arkansas Battery

    Cavalry Division, Major-General James F. Fagan, 6.200 men

    Cabell's Brigade, Brigadier-General William L. Cabell, 2.700 men
    Gordon's, Monroe's, Morgan's Arkansas Cavalry, Gunter's, Harrell's, Hill's Witherspoon's Arkansas Cavalry Battalion

    Dobbins' Brig, Colonel Archibald S. Dobbins, 800 men
    Dobbins', McGhee's, Witt's, Lyle's Arkansas Cavalry, Anderson's Arkansas Cavalry Battalion

    Slemons' Brigade, Colonel William F. Slemons, 1.000 men
    2nd, Calton's, Crawford's, Rogan's, Wright's Arkansas Cavalry

    McCray's Brigade, Colonel Thomas H. McCray, 1.700 men
    15th Missouri Cavalry, 45th, 47th Arkansas Mounted Infantry
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    III. Steele's Dilemma
  • III. Steele's Dilemma:


    Frederick Steele had been born in the state of New York in 1819 and graduated from the military academy of West Point in 1843. He served bravely in the Mexican-American War and the Yuma War but quickly rose through the ranks after the beginning of the Civil War. He was promoted to major general of vulunteers in march 1863 and invaded Confederate-held Arkansas in the late summer of the same year. In September 1863 Steele skillfully outmaneuvered Sterlin Price and captured Little Rock with his Army of Arkansas. Subsequently he was given command of the VII Corps in the Department of Arkansas.

    During the military operation in late march 1864 styled the 'Camden Expedition', Steele was obliged to march to Shreveport, Louisiana, where he would link up with an amphibious expedition led by Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks and Rear Admiral David D. Porter, whose force was to advance up the Red River Valley; once joined, the Union force was to strike into Texas. Steele was expected to garrison Shreveport while Banks would forge ahead into northeastern Texas. The Union army clashed with Confederate troops under Kirby Smith and Price at Mount Elba, Elkin's Ferry, Prairie D'Ane, Poison Spring and Marks' Mills and suffered terrible losses. At the Battle of Jenkins' Ferry however Steele was able to extradite the remains of his army via a pontoon bridge across the Saline River. After having lost most of his supply wagons and over 2,500 men, he returned to Little Rock on May 3rd without ever coming close to reaching Shreveport or the state of Texas.

    Steele's command was in a miserable condition, low on supplies, morale and human resources. In and around Little Rock he was only able to muster about 10,400 men and three batteries of artillery.

    His army fielded six brigades of infantry in two divisions under Brigadier-Generals Frederick C. Salomon and John M. Thayer as well as three brigades of cavalry commanded by Brigadier-General Eugene A. Carr.

    These were the troops that formed the only obstacle on Sterling Price's way towards Missouri. Now, as Steele heard of the Confederate advance on June 29th, 1864, he was faced with a dilemma: Should he meet his old adversary Price in the field or settle down to be besieged?

    VII. Corps, Department of Arkansas, Major-General Frederick Steele

    3rd Division, Brigadier-General Frederick C. Salomon, 3.700 men

    1st Brigade, Colonel Charles E. Salomon, 1.700 men
    50th Indiana, 29th, 33rd Iowa, 9th Wisconsin Infantry

    2nd Brigade, Colonel Wiliam E. McLean, 1.100 men
    43rd Indiana, 36th Iowa, 77th Ohio Infantry

    3rd Brigade, Colonel Adolph Engelmann, 900 men
    43rd Illinois, 40th Iowa, 27th Wisconsin Infantry

    Frontier Division, Brigadier-General John M. Thayer, 3.400 men

    1st Brigade, Colonel John Edwards, 1.100 men
    1st, 2nd Arkansas, 18th Iowa Infantry

    2nd Brigade, Colonel Charles W. Adams, 1.200 men
    1st, 2nd Kansas (Colored), 12th Kansas Infantry

    3rd Brigade, Colonel Owen Bassett, 1.100 men
    2nd, 6th, 14th Kansas Cavalry

    Cavalry Division, Brigadier-General Eugene A. Carr, 3.300 men

    1st Brigade, Colonel John F. Ritter, 800 men
    1st, 2nd Missouri Cavalry

    3rd Brigade, Colonel Daniel Anderson, 1.000 men
    10th Illinois, 1st Iowa, 3rd Missouri Cavalry

    Independent Brigade, Colonel Powell Clayton, 1.500 men
    1st Indiana, 5th Kansas, 7th Missouri Cavalry, 18th Illinois, 28th Wisconsin Infantry
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    IV. The Battle of Ferguson Lake
  • IV. The Battle of Ferguson Lake:


    28th Texas Cavalry holds back Eugene A. Carr's Union division
    Confederate commander Sterling Price had started his move towards Little Rock in the morning of June 29th, 1864. While Fagan's cavalry feigned moves against other Union strongholds at Fort Smith, Pine Bluff and Helena, the main army was directly marching in the direction of the state capital. Around midday of July 2nd, the leading columns of Walker's corps in the form of Polignac's division reached Ferguson Lake south of the hamlet and small road hub of Ironton, about 12 miles to the south of Little Rock. Union Major General Frederick Steele however had not been idle in the meantime and had decided to confront the van of Price's force in order to ascertain his opponent's strength. He formed his full command along a small river called Clear Creek, with his right flank resting on the shore of Ferguson Lake. There he patiently waited for Walker to make the first move.

    Seeing the federals to their front across Clear Creek but being oblivious to their strength, Walker sent for three of Polignac's brigades. The frenchman's fourth brigade, under Brigadier General Thomas N. Waul, was to remain guarding the division's wagon train. Polignac led the brigades of Colonels Philip N. Luckett and Oran M. Roberts to report to Walker near the river bank while Looscan's brigade was already skirmishing with federal cavalry at a ford to the east. The men were deployed about three-quarters of a mile south of the Creek. Polignac directed Luckett to probe Steele's main line across the water, but the men were not making any headway. Roberts' soldiers were taking a stationary position and after a short while, one of Walker's aides rode up and told Luckett to fall back and deploy on Roberts' right. The Union presence was visibly growing and no Confederate reinforcements were at hand

    At that critical moment, Frederick Steele had made up his mind. He saw clearly, that he was only facing an isolated portion of Price's force which was additionally being outnumbered by him. After having put both of his infantry divisions into line, the federals began their push on the lakeside and over the stream. Near the evening, Steele's men came up against Polignac's line.

    The federal commander decided to have the infantry attack the french duke's position along the river bank while the majority of Eugene Carr's cavalry would attack the Confederate left and Clayton's independent brigade would cover his own left flank. Just before the Union attack, Walker and Polignac rode along the line shouting encouragement and exposing themselves to fire.

    When the federals attacked, Steele's infantry first assaulted Luckett's advanced line. Luckett's brigade fell back and reformed on crest of a ridge in contact with Roberts' brigade. Steele's force made no immediate move to follow up their attack during Luckett's retirement. Luckett's force had time to throw up fence rail barricades before receiving another attack. When the Union infantry finally resumed the attack, Polignac's reorganized defensive line, using heavy, well directed volleys of musketry, twice drove them back. On the left, Eugene Carr's cavalry attacked the 28th Texas Cavalry guarding the extreme western flank of Roberts' brigade, who continued to hold out despite heavy losses, until they finally ran out of ammunition. By presenting a good front, without any cartridges left, the dismounted cavalrymen discouraged a further attack against them as they occupied a stronger position further south and pretended they had ammunition. As dark was coming on, Polignac led Looscan's men in a charge that drove the federals back, seeming to drain their remaining energy.

    By this time, the night had become very dark and Steele ordered the Union attack ended in the face of Polignac's resistance. Colonel Clayton later criticized Steele for making this decision, stating the federals had lost "a golden opportunity" and that "daylight had nothing to do with it" Nonetheless, skirmishers and videttes of the opposing sides continued to fire at each other for hours after dark.

    The two armies' battle lines were very close to each other at the end of the day's battle, in places only about 100 yards apart. Steele's infantry was across the main road towards Ironton with parts of Carr's cavalry on the right and Clayton's cavalry on the left. Polignac's two brigades were holding Walker's front and slept on their arms in anticipation of an early morning attack. After a lengthy discussion however, Steele decided to fall back to more defensible gound around Ironton despite the fact he had succeeded in driving the better part of a confederate division from the field.

    Although only a partial victory which did not remove Walker from the field, the Battle near Ferguson Lake temporarily gave the initiative to the disadvantaged federals. Confederate infantrymen fought both Union cavalry and infantry and slowed the spirited Union progress throughout the day. Walker's delaying actions were effective at several points but the Confederate line had been pushed back several miles by the end of the day. Nonetheless, the federals had suffered and were not eager to hold their advanced position. While Steele lost about 750 men during his assault, Walker suffered nearly 350 losses. Most prominent casualty of the day was Texan Colonel Oran M. Roberts, whose right index finger was ripped off by a minie ball.
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    V. The Battle of Ironton
  • V. The Battle of Ironton:


    The Pursuit of Steele's force

    At dawn on July 3, 1864, Polignac reported to Price, who had recently arrived on the field, that his scouts had found that the Federals had withdrawn from their positions in front of the line confronting the final Confederate defensive line set up on the evening of July 2. After Steele's withdrawal, Price planned to attack the federals at Ironton as soon as possible. Price ordered Walker to pursue Steele's force with Polignac's and Chuchill's divisions. Brigadier General Thomas N. Waul's brigade of Polignac's division was recalled from guarding the wagon train.

    When Polignac reached the junction of Evans Road and Brokes Road with Luckett's and Looscan's brigades, he found Shelby's division of Parsons' corps had arrived at that location about dawn. Due to the wet ground, Walker decided to deploy Polignac's men and move them cross country to turn the Union right flank. Polignac moved his men forward with Luckett's brigade on the left and Looscan's on the right, with Fountain Head Lake to their left. Polignac's men captured a few Union stragglers and drove off a patrol guarding the southern end of Fountain Head Lake. When Polignac's men approached within several hundred yards of the Union defensive line at Pratt Road, he decided not to attack the apparently strong defenses but to send out combat patrols to test the line. They could not find a weak spot in the line so Polignac told his men to hold their ground.

    When Polignac's troops moved off the Tafton Road, Walker sent Churchill's force up that road to a local farm where they met Clark's division, which had begun to arrive about 7:00 am, with Marmaduke's division following soon thereafter. After Churchill had met with Clark, he moved toward Ironton. Hawthorn's brigade discovered that Union infantry held the crossing in force. Churchill then sent Tappan's brigade to ford the creek and establish a position on the other side. Hawthorn then sent his force to follow Tappan's men across while the rest of Gause's brigade covered the right flank and rear of the division. Churchill then sent the brigade to take a wooded area between the creek and Pratt. The men got within a few dozen yards of the Union line and some of the men even briefly crossed the line and brought back some prisoners before being driven off. Hawthorn formed his brigade and moved them into the line. Gause's brigade also was brought forward to oppose the center of the Union line.

    Polignac's division was on the left of the Confederate line and its farthest right brigade, Luckett's, was at first in contact with Hawthorn's brigade from Churchill's division but the brigade moved off to look for the rest of their division. Luckett then moved back to reform his line and to move to the right in thick woods about 400 yards south of the Union line. After this move, Luckett was across from Tappan's brigade, rather than from Hawthorn's brigade. The soldiers threw up log breastworks while waiting for further orders.

    Waul's brigade of Polignac's division arrived at Tafton with the wagons at 11:00 am. After Waul allowed his men to rest until 1:00 pm, they moved up to the battle line to report to Polignac.

    Price's plan of attack; Parsons' Corps called up


    Major General Mosby M. Parsons

    Price then planned an attack where Polignac would feint toward the Union right flank with Looscan's brigade, Parsons' infantry corps would attack the left flank and Churchill, joined by Luckett's brigade, would make a frontal attack on the Union entrenchments when they heard Parsons' attack begin.Price sent a staff officer to order up Parsons' Corps and an engineer to turn the front of Parsons' Corps obliquely to and a short distance from Pratt Road, about one mile east of Ironton.

    The engineer reached Parsons at a farm at 1:00 p.m. with Price's instructions. Upon hearing Price's order, Parsons sent a staff officer to have the division commanders move up at once. The man gave Marmaduke and Clark the message and sent another officer to contact Shelby while he waited to see that the orders were obeyed as promptly as possible by the divisions at the farm.

    Parsons went to see Price who briefly and tersely explained to him the tactical situation and plan of operations. Parsons then rode to examine the ground where his men were to be massed on and he sent his escort to patrol as far as Pratt Road to prevent the Federals from discovering his corps' movement.

    Price told Parsons to advance with his entire corps in a two-division front oblique to the road with the third division following in reserve. He wanted the attack in a single blow and not piecemeal. Otherwise, Parsons could determine the number of assault waves and length of the line. Parsons decided that each division should put both of its brigades in front.

    Marmaduke's division reached its designation first and deployed as Parsons instructed. Clark's division arrived soon after Marmaduke's. Parsons showed him where to set up and asked him to be as expeditious as possible in forming his line. Shelby's division arrived last and Parsons also asked him at least twice to move expeditiously.

    If the angle in the Union line had been where Parsons was led to believe it was, Marmaduke's men would hit it first and Clark would be with him to reinforce the attack. Shelby's division would prevent the Union troops in the earthworks facing Pratt Road from reinforcing McLean's brigade which was holding the return. Parsons prepared a sketch map of the presumed situation for the division commanders. The instructions directed the corps to advance northwestwardly to the Pratt Road, wheel to the left, take a position at right angles to the road and that as soon as they were engaged, Polignac's and Churchill's men were to charge along the rest of the line. No cavalry were yet on the right with Parsons' corps but Fagan's troopers were reported to be advancing on Pratt Road towards Parsons' position.

    The ground where Parsons' corps formed was rough, wooded and filled with ravines. Since the Union breastworks could not be seen from this location, the direction of advance depended on the roads and supposed location of the Union works along Pratt Road.

    Parsons used all exertions possible to get his troops to the point of departure. The march appeared to be off to a good start. Clark received his orders at 2:00 pm. The division marched two and a half miles over a narrow, woody road, arriving at the marshaling area about 4:00 pm, which most observers agreed was reasonable time.Parsons offered to move with those troops which were ready if Price so directed, but Price wanted all the infantry to attack at once.

    Shelby starts Parsons' attack; Price leads from the front


    Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby

    When Shelby finished aligning his men, about 4:15 pm, the order was given for the attack. Price and Parsons rode at the front of Shelby's division. Confederate skirmishers drove in the Union outposts.

    As Shelby's men crossed Pratt Road, they ran into Fagan's approaching cavalry. Price had ordered Fagan to strike towards Fish Creek, covering Parsons' right flank. Parsons soon realized that his corps had crossed Pratt Road east of the left of the Union line and Marmaduke's division was starting to diverge from Shelby's. Parsons thought that the Union line must be in the edge of the woods, about 300 yards from the road and continued to lead the corps toward the northwest.

    McLean's Union brigade began to fire on Shelby's division after they crossed Pratt Road and entered a field beyond. This established that the Union line was not immediately across Pratt Road but 700 yards to 800 yards west of that intersection. The bad information about the location of the Union line had put Parsons' march off target, with two of the three divisions past the end of the Union line but in a position to strike from the rear.

    Parsons later recalled that McLean's brigade was in a thick belt of woods, which disrupted their aim and reduced initial Confederate casualties. The Union refused left flank was shorter than 150 yards in length. Shelby realized the situation soon after the attack began and changed his front to the left to face the bend of the line. Shelby then led the line in the attack. Marmaduke, however, failed to adjust his movement when Shelby changed his front and Clark continue to follow Marmaduke north and west through the woods.

    Shelby's men had faltered briefly when they became exposed to closer, more accurate firing from McLean's brigade. Price then rode along the battle line shouting encouragement. Shelby's right flank brigade under Colonel David Shanks had moved well ahead of Marmaduke's division and began to waver as the troops realized they might be exposed to a flank attack. On his horse, Price called for his battle flag. He rode among the soldiers shouting encouragement and orders to close ranks. His color sergeant was killed. Another staff officer was wounded and at least two other staff officers' horses were killed. Price and Shelby and his officers managed to quickly get the troops under control and order them forward again. This time some of McLean's defenders broke for the rear. The Union gunners limbered up their four artillery pieces and pulled out just as Shelby's men came over the earthworks. Shelby's men killed or captured all of McLean's men who had not fled.

    As some of his men got away from the crumbling line, McLean had to be freed from under his wounded and grounded horse. An officer in one of McLean's regiments later wrote: "The Rebels simply run over us and crowded us so that it became impossible to shoot." The color-sergeant of the 5th Missouri Cavalry Regiment planted the first Confederate flag on the Union line.

    Shelby had taken the key to the entire Union line, over 1,000 prisoners and eight battle flags.

    Price ordered Shelby to halt and reform his division. When it was obvious that the Union line in fact had given way, Price ordered Shelby to move forward.

    Parsons searches for Clark and Marmaduke


    Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke

    When Clark's and Marmaduke's divisions diverged from Shelby, Shelby sent a message to Clark to come up on his right. Price also sent orders to Clark and Marmaduke to come in on the right. Parsons sent staff officers in pursuit of them. Parsons established a command post in the field east of the return where he thought he could get information from all points and exercise control of the whole field assigned to his corps. Price, however, thought Parsons should have been leading from the front.When the staff officers did not report back promptly, Parsons himself went looking for the wayward divisions. He was fired upon when he reached a local landmark about 800 yards north of the end of the Union refused line, by the volleys that caused Shanks' brigade to recoil.

    Marmaduke's division had come in several hundred yards from the road before they wheeled to the left, entirely missing the approximately 150 yards Union return line. Parsons first found Colonel Thomas R. Freeman's brigade and told him to form his brigade at right angles to its previous direction and wait until another brigade could close up on his right.Parsons and his staff officers could not find Marmaduke to tell him to move his other brigades. When Parsons came back from the woods, Freeman was gone, having been ordered forward by one of Price's staff officers who was also searching for Marmaduke. A patrol of Clayton's cavalry stopped Freeman's advance from concealed positions. Freeman brought up Ford's Arkansas Cavalry Battalion which drove out Clayton's men and allowed Freeman's brigade to resume their move to the west.

    One of Parsons' staff officers found Marmaduke and had him swing to the right to join Freeman. Since Freeman had moved, Marmaduke proceeded toward the landmark, with the brigade of Colonel Colton Greene, encountering a few of Clayton's pickets as they progressed. Marmaduke then found and moved against Clayton's dismounted troopers, which still moved Marmaduke toward the northwest away from the main Union line.

    Clark joins the main attack


    Brigadier General John B. Clark jr.

    Parsons finally found Clark about 800 yards north of the return at the landmark. Clark had pushed ahead of Marmaduke's division and had gone even further to the right of the end of the refused segment of the Union line. Clark realized something was wrong when he did not come up against fortifications after marching about one mile and only finding Clayton's outposts as opposition.

    Colonel Simon P. Burns of Clark's division rode to the left when he heard increased firing and saw the Union left flank on the opposite side of the field. Clark also rode to the same spot and saw the Union movement along Pratt Road. A major then rode up and told Clark that Parsons wanted him to move toward Pratt Road by the left flank. Meanwhile, all of Clark's men except three regiments of Burns' brigade had moved off and joined Marmaduke's division.

    Clark then led Burns' three regiments across the open field. Colonel Charles S. Mitchell saw the division flag moving to the left and followed Clark with his brigade. By the time Parsons returned to Pratt Road, Shelby's division had captured the return. Since no attack was now needed at the refused end of the Union line, Parsons sent a staff officer to tell Clark to push westward toward the Ironton Road. Clark turned his men to the right and headed west parallel to Pratt Road. Parsons then turned back toward the return to look again for Marmaduke's division.

    The Second Union left flank line is breached

    The collapse of McLean's brigade put both Salomon's and Bassett's brigades in danger of being outflanked and attacked from the rear. The three Union brigadier generals quickly threw up a new defensive line with light field works at a right angle to Pratt Road in the woods at the west end of an open field in order to protect Ironton Road. Clark's division soon charged against this line with Mitchell's brigade on the left and Burns''s brigade on the right. When Mitchell's men attacked, their right wing overcame the new Union line and then a Confederate regiment and a battalion headed toward Pratt Road while Clark's remaining troops maintained their pressure on that part of the Union line which was still holding out. Another of Mitchell's regiments and a battalion continued to pressure the Union line. Burns' regiments met stiff resistance and even engaged in hand-to-hand fighting. Some of Burns' men took cover in rifle pits where Mitchell's men had broken the line. Clark's men succeeded in breaking the line after a fight of about half an hour.

    The generals and staff officers had to reform Burns' brigade and deploy the men at right angles to the Union line so they would not be trapped if the Federals managed a counterattack. Mitchell rushed two regiments to help. Together, these units put the Federals to flight, taking about 1,500 prisoners and several battle flags. Burns and Mitchell reorganized 150 to 200 stragglers and put them back into the battle. Mitchell saw Colonel Shanks' battle flag to the rear and asked Shanks to have his brigade assist Mitchell's men, which Shanks did. Suddenly confronted by a large number of Federals, Mitchell feared being caught in a cross-fire when the Federals suddenly threw down their arms and surrendered.

    Price orders Shelby, Clark and Mitchell forward

    As the second Union return line collapsed, Shelby and Price came forward. Price ordered Mitchell to take command of all the infantry in the vicinity and to push for Ironton. He did so with the help of one of Clark's staff officers. After being cautioned by Price and Shelby that his men were firing into their own cavalry, Mitchell told Price that he should go to a safer place. Instead, Price rode west on Pratt Road, following Clark and Burns who had just come up.

    Clark had not paused with the victory at the second defensive line but continued to advance to Ironton where he met the men of Luckett's and Tappan's brigades who had just broken through the Union fortifications. Shelby's division then reached Ironton as well. On the right, Burns' brigade reached Ironton Road and captured an ambulance and wagon train.

    Marmaduke moves forward

    Marmaduke's troops also moved steadily across Ironton Road from the northern end of the field and captured seven ambulances and some wagons from Salomon's brigade. Marmaduke sent these wagons with many prisoners to the rear so fast that Marmaduke's provost marshalcould not keep an accurate count of them.

    After Shelby's division had captured the return, Parsons again went to search for Marmaduke. He found Marmaduke's division in good order facing west. Parsons ordered Crawford to wheel to the left and drive south against Ironton because Parsons perceived that the Federals still held the crossroads because of artillery fire coming from that direction. Freeman's brigade led the attack on the left of Ironton Road with Greene's brigade and several of Burns' separated regiments coming up on the right. From woods in the south, the Federals fired steadily on the Confederate battle line.

    When Union commander Frederick Steele finally arrived on the battlefield, he found that his subordinates, McLean, Bassett and Salomon, had formed a new line parallel to and east of Ironton Road and were fighting with Clark's division.

    The third Union left flank is formed but collapses

    Steele pulled Adams' brigade from the line west of Ironton along with two guns to shore up the line and added stragglers from McLean's and Salomon's brigades to the line in order to man a third line of resistance east of Ironton Road. Freeman's Confederate brigade faced fierce fire from Adams' brigade and an artillery battery but continued to advance with the support of Marmaduke's two other brigades and two of Burns''s regiments.

    Adams' brigade broke when Freeman's men rushed into the woods and over their line, although Adams was able to reform part of the brigade. Seeing the disordered condition of Adams' brigade, and although the Federals still controlled the intersection, Steele gave up the fight at Ironton Road and ordered Adams to go across country to the Railroad. Freeman's brigade took a large number of prisoners from Adams' brigade and captured the two guns.

    After Adams' brigade had been broken, Parsons told Marmaduke to oblique his division to the right and occupy Pratt Road west of Ironton to close the last line for Union retreat. Polignac's division was engaged in fierce combat to the southwest of Marmaduke. Marmaduke's left flank passed north of Ironton and Parsons split off for Ironton.

    Edwards and Carr cover Union withdrawal

    When Steele sent Adams off the field, he called for Edwards' brigade to come from the front and deploy on the west side of the city center at a right angle to Pratt Road. The Confederate forces would need to cross an open field to advance. Steele's objective was to gain time for the survivors of the shattered brigades of McLean, Bassett and Salomon to escape. Edwards' men threw up light field works and Anderson's and Ritter's brigades of Carr's cavalry division supported them to the south and west.

    Fagan's cavalry had advanced on the right of Parsons' and scattered Clayton's picket line as well as screening the infantry. Fagan had to pause twice to break up pockets of resistance.The Confederate cavalrymen captured large numbers of prisoners during their advance.At about 9:00 pm, Fagan halted and reported his location to Price. Price sent instructions to have a cavalry detail relieve the infantry detachment then guarding the Fish Creek ford on Ironton Road.

    After Clayton and his remaining troopers crossed Fish Creek, they remounted, crossed back and rode to the right to report to Steele. Realizing that they only could get trapped by continuing to fight, Steele ordered Clayton to rejoin Carr north of Fish Creek. They did so after recrossing the river to the west and reported to Carr after dark.

    Walker's corps attacks

    In line with Price's order, Walker ordered Churchill and Polignac to charge the Union works as soon as they heard the sound of battle from the attack to their right. They were to leave one brigade each in reserve to exploit any breakthrough. Churchill's men and Luckett's brigade of Polignac's division attacked the fortifications along Pratt Road when they heard the musketry from Parsons' corps. Luckett was at Polignac's command post where Polignac told him to call for his leading regiments so he could support Polignac's flank attack.

    Within minutes of speaking with Polignac, Luckett heard the sound of firing, followed by the appearance of a staff officer who told him that Walker had sent Luckett's brigade into the attack. Polignac said he must be mistaken and rode off. Luckett headed for the front only to find that his brigade in fact had attacked, faltered and was pulling back in confusion. In his after action report, Luckett said the failure to maintain contact with Tappan's brigade, the removal of Looscan's brigade from his left and the fact his men were running out of ammunition caused the retreat.With Luckett's brigade no longer on his left, Churchill had to pull his division back. While the Union forces regrouped, Churchill supplied Luckett's men with more ammunition and the Confederate attack was resumed. After renewing their attack, Luckett's brigade fell back again but Churchill's division continued their attack against Bassett's and Salomon's brigades.

    After Shelby's division broke the Union line, Bassett and Salomon had to withdraw a large number of their troops to man the new defensive line at right angles to Pratt Road. Nonetheless, Luckett's men were being held back at the breastworks and Price halted them temporarily because he was concerned that Shelby's men would fire into them. It was only after Adams' brigade was pulled out of the front line to form the third left flank line that Luckett's brigade made progress.

    Ironton is taken

    The Union detachments from Adams', Bassett's and Salomon's brigades could not carry on holding the front of the Union line when Confederate troops from Clark's division appeared on their left to add weight to the attack by Churchill's division who charged over the fortifications as Clark's men came up. Churchill and Polignac reported that they captured almost 1,000 prisoners and seized two battle flags and two guns during the battle.

    After Walker's corps broke the front line at the intersection, Clark's and Shelby's divisions arrived at the scene, causing some disorder as units intermingled.After restoring organization to their commands, Churchill wheeled his division to the left and set up on Clark's left while Shelby's division was behind Clark's. Then the Confederate battle line moved to the west of the junction.

    Parsons leads a final charge

    Parsons found Marmaduke's division hesitating at the edge of the woods on the east side at the same time Polignac's division was being held back by Carr's men to the south and west. The Confederate soldiers were not heeding officers' orders to move forward against Edwards' line of breastworks. After a few minutes for reorganization of the units, Parsons took the corps flag and rode into the field with his staff officers and called for the men to follow. The men then rose and followed their officers and color bearers to attack Edwards' brigade, capturing many prisoners and dispersing the other Federals. In the attack, Parsons' horse was shot from under him just short of the Union line and an orderly was killed.

    After Edwards' brigade had been scattered, Marmaduke's men moved west on Pratt Road about half a mile. After mopping up a few pockets of resistance, Parsons halted the pursuit since no more Federals could be seen and night was falling. Parsons had earlier sent his aide to tell Price he had gained the enemy's rear, taken over 1,500 prisoners and was pushing in a division as fast as he could.

    When Steele ordered Edwards to the west side of the town, he ordered Carr to prepare to withdraw to the railroad. Carr covered his dismounted men with his mounted men and fought a successful delaying action as he slowly retreated. He had to speed up as Edwards' brigade collapsed. Yet, Fagan could not cut off many of Carr's men, who crossed Fish Creek far to the West and then marched to Ironton Road to report to Steele. Fagan followed Carr's men for about six miles but gave up and set up camp on the battlefield as darkness closed in.

    The Confederates sustained nearly 850 casualties but Steele lost about 600 men killed and wounded and, most importantly, 2,400 taken prisoner. Combined with the losses from the previous day, the Union army had clearly lost more than a third of its original strength. While parts of Steele's force like Carr's cavalry and elements of Thayer's division were coherently retreating towards Little Rock and retaining their command structure, other units were in the process of simply disintegrating and were streaming in the general direction of the Arkansas River or minor outposts where they hoped to find safety and shelter.
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    VI. To the River
  • VI. To the River

    "[...] I received two letters from you, for all of which you must accept my thanks. It was amusing to me in reading those to see how little idea you had of the stirring times through which we were passing here at Little Rock. During the 1st instant there were rumours of Pap Price advancing and we begun to fear that Steele would make his stand in this very location and therefore exposing the citizens to the horrors of combat. We were mightily released however when the blue columns were leaving the city early on the 2nd instant in a southern direction. During this day and the following one, we occasionally heard the thunder of guns and we were able to witness several yankee couriers frantically dashing up the main street towards the telegraph office. Shortly before midnight of the 3rd July, we were deprived of our sleep by the sounds of marching men. There were heated debates in that characteristic northern accent and I got to the conclusion that the bluecoats were unsure of their next moves. From their appearance and their disordered behaviour I concluded them to be defeated. To take safety measures in case they were to take revenge on us for their reverse, I went to grab my old hunting rifle, but when I reappeared from the cellar, I heard them leave the city in western direction. This 4th of July 1864 was a day we will not soon forget. Pap Price entered the town in the morning at the head of a mighty column. As we saw them passing out North street, it was a most reassuring sight, and never were a lot of bronzed and dirty looking veterans, many of them barefooted, more heartily welcomed. The streets were lined with women, waving their handkerchiefs and cheering them on as they moved out in the direction of the river. There were Arkansas troops in the van, led by the gallant General Churchill, and as we were able to make out their regimental banners, the crowds went wild with cheers. I went to the town square in front of the mayor's mansion because the word was passed around, that General Price was to address the citizens. I was early and therefore able to see him from near and not only from a distant. He was dressed in a neat, spotless uniform and his hair was groomed. Although not being the youngest fellow anymore, he seemed to radiate with energy and his smile was being contagious. The general told us, that we were freed once more from the yankee menace and that he was optimistic, that the action of the day before would compell the foe to abandon any claim on that beautiful state of ours. He thanked the brave men and women for coming out to see him and for their hospitality, but that he had to decline any invitations made. Also he told us he was sorry for denying us the opportunity to celebrate with his fellow soldiers, because Little Rock would not be the finale but the mere beginning of a military campaign. When he was asked were he would go next, he simply patted his coat directly over his heart and, with a melancholic smile, answered that Missouri had always been in his mind and that a war was to be won. Then Pap Price remounted and trotted towards the river with his entourage, followed by thundering applause. It took nearly the whole afternoon for the troops to cross the river, and together with the last rays of daylight the grey columns faded in the distance. [...]"
    -A citizen of Little Rock in his correspondence with his cousin in Pocahontas, Arkansas
    VII. Unpleasant News
  • VII. Unpleasant News


    July 13, 1864
    North of the Chattahoochee River
    State of Georgia

    Union Major General William Tecumseh Sherman was in his headquarters pondering over logistical problems with Major General James B. McPherson when a boy from the telegraph's office arrived. "A message from General Grant, sir." Sherman took the envelope, nodded absentmindedly and tore it open.

    General Sherman,

    The rebel leader Sterling Price has gone on the offensive in Arkansas. He was able to completely rout the forces of our General Steele and was able to take back Little Rock. Videttes observed Price crossing the Arkansas River and afterwards heading in a northern direction. It seems obvious to me, that his objective is Missouri. Reliable reports estimate Price's strength at around twenty thousand men and it is to be expected that volunteers will be joining his ranks. Our troop conditions in Missouri are miserable and the units in Kansas have almost no combat experience. To avoid any major setback in the broader conflict, that would only strengthen those petitioning for peace with the traitors, I have to order significant additional forces to Missouri. You are therefore obliged to entrain General Schofield and the Army of the Ohio immediately and put them on the rails towards St. Louis via Nashville. After consulting your latest reports I am confident about your chances of taking Atlanta even in the face of this substraction of manpower because you still field twice as many men as Johnston. It is mandatory for you to use your superiority in a way to achieve significant progress in the coming weeks. I am fully dependant on your service.
    General Grant

    "What is this?" Mc Pherson asked.

    "Telegram from Grant. Steele has failed in Arkansas. Schofield is ordered to reinforce Missouri." Sherman answered.

    "Damn that Steele, this could certainly complicate matters."

    "This is an understatement, James. Although we will have left almost 80,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry, the grey fox Johnston has some of tge strongest fortifications in the world to rely upon."

    "Then we should keep our momentum going, Cump. If we only pressure him enough, he has to crack somewhere."

    "Your words in the ear of the Lord." Sherman concluded sarcastically. It is time to move forward again, he thought to himself. But first I have to tell the news to Schofield. I imagine he will not be very fond of this mess.
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    VIII. The Battle of Peachtree Creek
  • VIII. The Battle of Peachtree Creek

    Peachtree Creek Price AH.jpg

    Retreating from Sherman's advancing armies, General Johnston withdrew across Peachtree Creek just north of Atlanta, and laid plans for an attack on part of the Army of the Cumberland as it crossed Peachtree Creek. On July 17, he received a telegram from Confederate President Jefferson Davis relieving him from command. The political leadership of the Confederacy was unhappy with Johnston's lack of aggressiveness and replaced him with Hood.In contrast to Johnston's conservative tactics and conservation of manpower, Hood had a reputation for aggressive tactics and personal bravery on the battlefield. He formally took command on July 18 and launched the attempted counter-offensive.

    It was not until July 19 that Hood learned of Sherman's split armies advancing a swift attack from multiple directions. Thomas's Army of the Cumberland was to advance directly towards Atlanta, while the Army of the Tennessee under the command of Major General James B. McPherson quickly moved several miles towards Decatur so as to advance from the northeast. This was apparently an early premonition of Sherman's general strategy of cutting Confederate supply lines by destroying railroads to the east. Thomas would have to cross Peachtree Creek at several locations and would be vulnerable both while crossing and immediately after, before they could construct breastworks.

    Hood hoped to attack Thomas while his Army of the Cumberland was still in the process of crossing Peachtree Creek. He sent forth the corps under Alexander P. Stewart and William J. Hardee as well as an additional division from Cheatham's corps, Hindman's, to meet the Army of the Cumberland. By so doing, the Southerners could hope to fight with rough numerical parity and catch the Northern forces by surprise. Hood thus sought to drive Thomas west, further away from McPherson. This would have forced Sherman to divert his forces away from Atlanta.

    On the morning of the 20th, Hood began moving his troops into line. However, he soon learned that Cheatham was too far north to cover the Union advance from Decatur. In response, he instructed the Tennessean to slide to the south and ordered Hardee and Stewart to sidestep a half-mile each to maintain contact with their right. Unfortunately, Cheatham continued to shift south for not one but two miles. Hardee could not move a half-mile and still maintain contact. Without further instructions from Hood, who was not on the field, Hardee continued to march to his right, while a frustrated and angry Stewart, eager to attack, followed. Time and opportunity were rapidly slipping by. As Hood’s corps moved to the right, Union artillery served notice that the long-feared Yankee hordes were rapping on Atlanta’s door. The brief shelling gave noisy proof that McPherson was moving on the city, albeit at snail-like speed.

    Peachtree Creek 2 Price AH.jpg

    Finally, at 3:30 p.m., the bulk of the Army of Tennessee was ready to advance toward Peachtree Creek. Thomas was ill-prepared for the coming attack. Although captured Rebels had told him that heavy enemy forces were in his front, Thomas had still not fully deployed his lines. On his left, Brig. Gen. John Newton’s detached division from the IV Corps was busily entrenching and throwing up barricades on a ridge top along Peachtree Road, three-fourths of a mile south of the creek. Major General Joseph Hooker’s XX Corps, to Newton’s right, was largely undeployed and arrayed in an irregular V-shaped pattern. His 3rd Division, led by Brig. Gen. William T. Ward, milled about in the creek bottom several hundred yards to Newton’s right and rear. Beyond Ward, Brig. Gen. John W. Geary had formed his 2nd Division along and beyond Collier Road, which ran east to west and connected Peachtree and Howell’s Mill roads. To Geary’s right and 500 yards to the rear, Brig. Gen. Alpheus Williams’ 1st Division rested near the creek and along nearby ridges. Major General John Palmer’s XIV Corps was entrenched still farther to the right and rear and seemed in no hurry to move abreast of Hooker. The long saunter to the right was not a complete disaster for Hood. Although Newton and Geary were spending the afternoon busily strengthening their positions, by sheer luck Hardee’s line now overlapped the Union left. Major General William Bate’s division had moved unobserved into the gap to the east of Newton. His assignment was to deliver a devastating blow to the Union flank while Maj. Gen. William H.T. Walker’s division assailed the front. Hardee anxiously awaited Bate’s attack, but it never came. The Tennessean was trapped in a tangle of brush and briars in Clear Creek valley, to the east of Peachtree Road, and could not find Newton’s left.

    Hardee then ordered Walker forward. Advancing two of his brigades along the right and left of Peachtree Road, Walker’s whooping gray lines ran headlong into a semicircular line of Union barricades and breastworks. Newton’s 5,000 battle-tested Midwesterners, still shoring up their defenses, dropped their shovels and unleashed a murderous fire on the stunned Confederates. Those who had forced their way around Newton’s right quickly found themselves under a galling flank fire and retreated in short order. Walker’s right, moving along the slopes east of the road, fared better, at least momentarily. Newton had formed his line in a ‘T,’ with Colonel John W. Blake, temporarily in command of Brig. Gen. George Wagner’s brigade, posted in the rear and fronting Peachtree Road. Blake’s men had just commenced building barricades of posts and rails when Walker’s men burst from the woods. For a while, it appeared that Walker would turn Newton’s left, but massed artillery near Peachtree Creek, which Thomas himself had posted, took the steam out of Walker’s assault with shot, shell and canister. For all his trouble, Walker had gained nothing.

    As Hardee attacked on the extreme right, Stewart ordered his right division, commanded by Maj. Gen. William W. Loring, into action. Relaying Hood’s orders, Stewart told Loring’s men, ‘We must carry everything, allowing no obstacle to stop us.’ He said that the fate of Atlanta depended on the outcome of the battle. His soldiers took the message to heart. On Loring’s right, Brig. Gen. Winfield Scott Featherston led his Mississippians some 800 yards over the ridges and deep ravines to their front. The rough ground and dense growth of vines and brambles formed an almost impenetrable jungle that scrambled the Mississippians’ lines but did not stop them from chasing off the enemy skirmishers. Stopping and reforming, Featherston waited in vain for the expected attack of Hardee’s left division, commanded by Brig. Gen. George Maney and posted in the woods to Featherston’s right.

    Hearing nothing on his right and assuming that there were no Federals in Maney’s front, Featherston ordered his men forward on the double-quick. Yelling as they ran, they soon hit Ward's right and dashed into the gap between Ward and Geary, striking the former's three brigades in front and temporarily driving back his advancing blue lines. Ward's right soon gave way in considerable confusion but then re-formed and opened a deadly fire on the Mississippians’ right. Featherston now found his outnumbered troops nearly surrounded and under a murderous fire from the front, right and rear. Those in front of Ward seemed completely addled.

    At that critical moment, Maney struck. His four brigades, guided by the sound of combat, smashed into Ward's center and left flank. The freshly reformed Union brigades were again forced back and were slowly but surely driven against Newton's rear. Due to Walker's long range musketry that pinned Newton in place, it was not possible for the federals to realign their formation. Suddenly, Bate appeared on Walker's right after stumbling through the undergrowths for nearly half an hour. His men assailed Newton's left, that rested at the bank of Peachtree Creek. Bate succeeded in driving Newton's exhausted brigades to the north-west and, most importantly, beyond Collier's bridge.

    Witnessing the unraveling federal line, Hardee turned to his reserve division, Patrick Cleburne's. He turned to the battle-hardened Irishman and simply said 'Break them, drive them into the river'. Cleburne saluted without a word in return and began to shout orders. His four brigades advanced in a single line, passed Walker's spent men and hurled themselves against the small tip of Warf's and Newton's improvised V-shaped formation. The federals had enough. Their line broke and the formation began to fall apart. As a disorganized mob, the two divisions fled north, Cleburne, Maney and Bate at their heels. When they reached the creek, hundreds threw themselves into the water to escape. The majority however lay down their weapons and surrendered. Thomas' left flank was finished.

    The center of the Army of the Cumberland was also under assault. Loring’s other brigades advanced in line with Featherston and struck Geary in front. Following Thomas’ general orders to advance toward Atlanta, the Union brigadier had spent the morning driving enemy skirmishers from the ridges around Collier Road and throwing up rail barricades. That done, he advanced his skirmishers again. Brigadier General Thomas M. Scott’s largely Alabamian brigade suddenly burst from the woods in the Union front and seconds later on the right, at a range of less than 75 yards. Giving a Rebel yell and firing steadily, they rushed the first line and captured a stand of colors. The Rebel assault struck Geary as magnificent. ‘Pouring out from the woods they advanced in immense brown and gray masses, with flags and banners,’ he wrote, ‘many of them new and beautiful, while their general and staff officers were in plain view, with drawn sabers flashing in the light, galloping here and there as they urged their troops on to the charge.’ Geary could not help but notice, too, that the enemy seemed to rush forward ‘with more than customary nerve and heartiness in the attack,’ which was unfortunate for his surprised New Yorkers, Pennsylvanians and Ohioans.

    Geary had stacked his three brigades one behind the other on the ridges and ravines south of the Peachtree Creek valley. With Williams’ division still hundreds of yards to the rear, Scott’s men completely enveloped Geary’s right. A colonel of a Pennsylvania regiment became aware of the battle not by the sounds of firing but by ‘the disorganized masses of men as they rushed by the right of my line.’ The soldiers seemed panic-stricken, and the officers ‘manifested a lack of energy, coolness, and determination’ that was ‘truly deplorable.’ Many threw away knapsacks, guns and accouterments in their pell-mell flight.

    Riding up on a splendid horse, Hooker rallied Geary’s hard-pressed troops and helped reform the lines. The New Yorkers, Pennsylvanians and Ohioans quickly reformed and linked up with Williams’ left brigade. Artillery batteries posted on the ridge and across the creek poured a rapid fire of case shot, shells and canister into the victory-sensing Confederates. At one point, the swarming Southerners overran a section of guns but fell back when other artillery and rallying infantry opened fire at close range. Ultimately, Geary’s reformed lines were able to blunt the attack. Together with the advance of Williams’ left brigade and with murderous artillery fire, Geary’s assault eventually sent the battered, bloodied and exhausted Confederates back toward a sheltering ravine. Almost simultaneously with Loring, Stewart sent Edward Walthall’s and Samuel French's divisions up the Howell’s Mill Road.

    Brigadier General Joseph Knipe’s Union brigade quickly formed a line around the Embry House in an effort to stave off the advance of Walthall’s left. The Arkansas brigade soon passed down a ravine, struck Knipe in flank and briefly challenged the strongly entrenched left of the XIV Corps near the creek. However, Knipe changed front to the west to catch at least part of the advancing Confederates in flank. The musketry was so rapid and the afternoon heat so intense that some weapons ignited prematurely, sending bullets and ramrods flying. To relieve the pressure on the Confederate left, division artillery chief Major William L. Preston personally posted a battery on the slope of an open field to the left of the road. As the battery lieutenant rapidly shifted fronts to counter fire from two directions, a shot from an opposing battery struck and killed the major. Meanwhile, Walthall’s right brigade was passing down an 80-foot-deep ravine to the east of Howell’s Mill Road. Colonel E.A. O’Neal’s Alabama and Mississippi troops, ‘yelling like demons,’ temporarily unnerved the Federal brigade in their front. In hand-to-hand fighting, O’Neal forced his way through to an open field, but like his predecessors under Loring, he was taken in flank by Geary’s men, who now held the ridge top. Before long, French's, O’Neal’s and all of Walthall’s men had to retrace their steps.

    Suddenly, it became dangerous for Hood's force, as out of nowhere Palmers lead divisions arrived from the West. Walthall's and French's troops as well as the rest of Loring's division were in no shape to confront the slowly advancing federals while Hardee's men were busy processing several thousand prisoners to the rear. Stewart eventually ordered Hindman's division forward. The former Tennesseean lawyer, who was bitterly feuding with Hood at that time, stopped Palmer's advance units in their tracks. As the confederate leader cheered his men however, a stray bullet hit him in the neck and wounded him mortally. Palmer was discouraged by the stiff resistance to his front and the disturbing news from fugitives of Newton's and Ward's divisions. He decided to stand his ground and wait for further orders. The Confederates slowly pulled back to their earthworks.

    Although the firing continued until dark, the battle had essentially ended. Their left flank had been virtually destroyed but Thomas' army had held and the field belonged to them. They had suffered nearly 9,000 casualties including 4,000 prisoners from Newton's and Ward's divisions. In turn they had inflicted 2,500 on their opponents and captured seven stands of colors. What essentially ended as a draw gave nonetheless hope to Hood and his army, mostly due to the lopsided losses.

    Order of Battle:

    Army of the Cumberland, Major General George H. Thomas, 40,000 men present.

    IV. Corps, Major General Oliver O. Howard, 5,000 men present.

    Second Division, Brigadier General John Newton, 5,000 men.

    XIV. Corps, Major General John M. Palmer, 20,000 men.
    First Division, Brigadier General John H. King, 6,000 men.
    Second Division, Brigadier General Jefferson C. Davis, 6,000 men.
    Third Division, Brigadier General Absalom Baird, 8,000 men.

    XX. Corps, Major General Joseph Hooker, 15,000 men.
    First Division, Brigadier General Alpheus S. Williams, 5,000 men.
    Second Division, Brigadier General John W. Geary, 5,000 men.
    Third Division, Brigadier General William T. Ward, 5,000 men.

    Army of Tennessee, General John B. Hood, 35,000 men present.

    Hardee's Corps, Lieutenant General William J. Hardee, 18,000 men.

    Maney's Division, Brigadier General George E. Maney, 5,000 men.
    Cleburne's Division, Major General Patrick R. Cleburne, 5,000 men.
    Walker's Division,Major General William H. T. Walker, 5,000 men.
    Bate's Division, Major General William B. Bate, 3,000 men.

    Stewart's Corps, Lieutenant General Alexander P. Stewart, 12,000 men.
    Loring's Division, Major General William W. Loring, 4,000 men.
    French's Division, Major General Samuel G. French, 4,000 men.
    Walthall's Division, Brigadier General Edward C. Walthall, 4,000 men.

    Cheatham's Corps, Lieutenant General Benjamin F. Cheatham, 5,000 men present.
    Hindman's Division, Major General Thomas C. Hindman, 5,000 men.

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    IX. Rosecrans and the Department of Missouri
  • IX. Rosecrans and the Department of Missouri


    The head of Missouri's Union military department, Major General William S. Rosecrans, was relatively new to the region. He had been sent to Missouri almost as an exilee in January 1864 to lead a department of which was only demanded tp provide manpower and supplies to other, more important places. Rosecrans had long feared a Confederate invasion of Missouri, but he was left with almost no devices to counter it. By July 1st, he had only 11,400 troops besides some local militias. Although the bulk of this force was made up by two divisions of Major General Andrew J. Smith's XVI Corps, all in all 7,500 veterans in five brigades, the remaining units, a provisional infantry brigade and two cavalry outfits, were largely comprised of men who had yet to see the elephant. Those men were the only mustered force to defend a state of sixty-nine thousand square miles. It was not additionally helpful that the troops had to be scattered about the state in several geographical districts to maintain a show of law and order while suppressing the ever-present bands of Confederate guerrillas. This task was near impossible because of their limited numbers, the terrain and the strength of rebel sympathies in the local populace. Rosecrans therefore had made several calls for reinforcements and as a result angered and annoyed Halleck and Grant to the extreme. Other measures therefore had to be taken.

    Since the beginning of the war, Missouri had struck a variety of deals with the federal authorities to maintain a viable home defense force. The first offshoot of this was the Missouri State Militia (MSM), which mustered men into a federally subsidized longterm active duty. The militia was conceived in 1861 and began its service in 1862 as a full-time military force. Equipment and finances were provided by the federal government, but the units were under the control of the Union governor of Missouri who had the right to appoint officers for the MSM. The size of the militia was limited to 10,000 in February 1862 to control expenses and the majority of these men were spread all over the state to hunt after Confederate recruiters and all sorts of troublemakers. As befitted locally raised units in a guerilla conflict, the MSM more often than not engaged in a bitter, bloody war with the guerillas. Such a struggle engendered lawless behaviour, and MSM units rarely hesitated to apply scorched-earth tactics. Although the service of the MSM was characterized, in part, by these sorts of outrages, they tended also to be well equipped and tactically versed. By the summer of 1864, the MSM had experienced two years of almost nonstop small-unit patrolling and combat. Its greatest tactical weakness would be in operating in anything beyond company strength as the various regimental commanders rarely, if ever, took the field at the head of the entire regiment. Rosecrans tried to combat that via splitting the units up to battalion-sized groups and gave command to several injured or invalid combat officers. One important asset of the MSM however was its mobility. The force was composed almost exclusively as cavalry and provided the Federals with the opportunity to speedily redeploy men in orderly fashion to counter threats.

    The Federal command could, in theory, count on another kind of militia for assistance during a time of crisis. Established in the summer of 1862, the Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM) registered all able-bodied males not already serving in a military force. It thus provided a readily available list of troops that could be trained and activated to guard depots, suppress local disorders or fight in engagements, if need be. If measured only by the raw numbers, the EMM was a great success, but it often proved more of a liability than a benefit. While many units could be counted on to serve loyally, others were riddled with all manner of ex-Confederate veterans, Southern sympathizers and bushwhackers.

    Difficulties with the EMM, and the open disaffection of some units could not have come at a worse time in early July, 1864. Rumors ran wild that Price and his cohorts were ready to invade. Indeed, paranoia swept the state. The Liberty Tribune of July 5th proclaimed fantastically: „Fagan coming up the line between Missouri and Kansas with 5,000. Shelby with 3,000 in Lafayette, Marmaduke in Jackson with 3,500. Col. Thomas McCarty on Hannibal Railroad with 26,000. The main column, 240,000 strong, on way to capture St. Louis.“ Although Rosecrans knew, those numbers were not to be taken seriously, he was now informed, that the rebels were up to something. Therefore he mobilized all his available troops to Jefferson City and St. Louis in order to await further confirmation on the direction of the Confederate thrust into Missouri.

    At St. Louis, first and foremost Major General Andrew J. Smith's men were gathered. He had two divisions under Colonels Joseph J. Woods and David Moore available as well as two light batteries of artillery. Next was a provisional brigade, consisting of the 7th Kansas, 13th Missouri and Merril's Horse, commanded by Colonel Edward F. Winslow. Two more brigades of Enrolled Missouri Militia under Brigadier Generals E. C. Pike and Thomas Ewing and 5,000 Home Guard commanded by Senator Benjamin Gratz Brown also answered the call. These forces were able to field more than 18,000 troops and 8 guns.

    Jefferson City was the major gathering point for the Missouri State Militia. Two brigades commanded by Brigadier Generals Egbert B. Brown and Clinton B. Fisk as well as a brigade of Enrolled Missouri Militia under Colonel John F. Philips made up the backbone of the infantry. They were supported however by two cavalry brigades under Brigadier Generals John McNeil and John B. Sandborn and a small battery of artillery. All in all, about 8,000 men and two guns were formed near the state capital.

    St. Louis, 18,400 men, 8 guns

    XVI Corps, Major General Andrew J. Smith, 7,500 men.

    1st Division, Col Joseph J. Woods, 3,000 men.

    2nd Brigade, Col Lucius F. Hubbard, 2,000 men.
    47th Illinois, 12th Iowa, 5th, 7th, 9th, 10th Minnesota, 8th Wisconsin

    3rd Brigade, Col Sylvester G. Hill, 1,000 men.
    35th Iowa, 33rd Missouri

    3rd Division, Col David Moore, 4,500 men.

    1st Brigade, Col T. J. Kinney, 1,500 men.
    58th, 119th Illinois, 89th Indiana

    2nd Brigade, Col James I. Gilbert, 1,500 men.
    14th, 27th, 32nd Iowa, 24th Missouri

    3rd Brigade, Col Edward H. Wolfe, 1,500 men.
    49th, 117th Illinois, 52nd Indiana, 178th New York

    Other Forces

    1st EMM-Brigade, Brigadier General E. C. Pike, 2,400 men.
    5 Battalions, Enrolled Missouri Militia

    2nd EMM-Brigade, Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, 2,000 men.
    4 Battalions, Enrolled Missouri Militia

    Provisional Brigade, Col Edward F. Winslow, 1,500 men.
    7th Kansas, 13th Missouri, Merril's Horse

    Home Guard, Senator Benjamin Gratz Brown, 5,000 men.

    Battery H, 2nd Missouri Light Artillery, Cpt William C. F. Montgomery
    4 guns

    Battery L, 2nd Missouri Light Artillery, Cpt Charles H. Thurber
    4 guns

    Jefferson City, 8,200 men, 2 guns

    1st MSM-Brigade, Brigadier General Egbert B. Brown, 2,500 men.
    5 Battalions, Missouri State Militia

    2nd MSM-Brigade, Brigadier General Clinton B. Fisk, 1,800 men.
    4 Battalions, Missouri State Militia

    3rd EMM-Brigade, Col John F. Philips, 1,500 men.
    3 Battalions, Enrolled Missouri Militia

    1st Cavalry Brigade, Brigadier General John McNeil, 1,400 men.
    17th Illinois, 13th Missouri, 5th Missouri Militia Cavalry Regiments

    Battery of 5th Missouri Militia Cavalry, Lt Adam Hillerich
    2 guns

    2nd Cavalry Brigade, Brigadier General John B. Sandborn, 1,000 men.
    2nd Arkansas, 8th Missouri Militia Cavalry
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    X. Price's Return
  • X. Price's Return


    After having triumphantly paraded through Little Rock and crossing the Arkansas River, Sterling Price and his army were making good progress. Since commencing the campaign, the men had averaged between fifteen and twenty miles per day. Although not being particulary testing for veteran infantry, even greener troops were keeping up, bolstered by their recent success on the field of battle. The terrain in northern Arkansas was certainly rugged and rough, but crossing several high hills and numerous streams did not hold the troops back at all. The army's spirit was optimistic and many a diarist noted the motivation of the officers, NCOs and private soldiers.

    Partly responsible for the good morale was the fact that Price had been able to liberate a large wagon train from the Little Rock arsenal. This enabled the army to carry especially sufficient food supplies and necessities to keep the men happy and satisfied. Extensive foraging however would have massively slowed down the march and would therefore have provided the Federals more time to react to the Rebel advance. Nevertheless, mounted foraging parties were sent out in western and eastern directions and many patriotic citizens along the way were willing to donate to men that were not demanding but kindly asking for support. Weapon shortages as well as the need for horses and mules now were an issue of the past due to Steele's rapid retreat from the area and his inability to gather or destroy most of those properties.

    Several weeks in advance of the campaign start, Sterling Price already had sent out an illustrous band of recruiters to Missouri. Those were to assemble any willing and able man, especially from the Pro-Confederate regions in Western Missouri. Part of this delegation were Colonels Charles H. Tyler, J. T. Coffee, Caleb Perkins and James T. Searcey as well as Lieutenant Colonels Alonzo Slayback and D. A. Williams.

    One man however had no official military rank, but was nonetheless an important puzzle piece in Price's plans. The individual in question was John W. Taylor from the Order of American Knights. This secret organization was formed in 1856 by New Orleans lawyer Phineas C. Wright and remained a paper tiger until its founder moved to St. Louis in 1860. There the OAK was redefined to protect civil rights, promote the movement to end the war and provide protection for Democrats against Unionist and Republican movements. Soon, the movement was organized in several temples and began to hold secret meetings. Although its members were not nearly as numerous as their leaders boasted, several held prestigous functions within local communities that were able to spread pro-southern propaganda. By providing Taylor with cash in gold and several printer presses, Price hoped to sow division within the civil society. The OAK was not able to achieve lasting success, but forced Rosecrans and the Union authorities to send several regiments worth of troops on a wild goose chase for the deviating plotters.

    Another factor for the invasion were the roaming bands of bushwhackers in Missouri, that professed some vague loyalty to Price. Although possessing a militant sense of independence, the bushwhackers scented that a major shift in the fortunes of war might be able to occur and doubled down on their activities. It has to be acknowledged that those warbands, in several instances lead by truly psychopaths lusting for simple murder and destruction, took adwantage of the situation to better plunder and intimidate the Pro-Union citizenry, but this nonetheless siphoned away even more men and materials from Rosecrans' department. All in all, the expedition seemed to be well underway.
    XI. The Battle of West Plains
  • XI. The Battle of West Plains


    Union department commander William S. Rosecrans was being bombarded with reports of supposed rebel columns converging onto Missouri from virtually every direction in early July, 1864. Local fearmongers and sensationalist newspapers were not additionally helpful to filter out those messages that had a factual basis. As a seasoned military man with a sense for strategy, Rosecrans was certain that Price, should he really be advancing, would either turn on St. Louis or the state capital, Jefferson City. Although he had been vaguely promised reinforcements by Grant, he was not willing to gamble on any of both locations and to therefore strip the other one of its defenders.

    To solve this issue, the commander decided to reinforce the forts along the path to St.Louis with local militia but at the same time he sent out cavalry from Jefferson City to probe for Price's main force. As soon as the direction of the latter could have been confirmed, Rosecrans would significantly bolster the major city in question to be able to confront the Southerners on comparable terms.

    In the first week of July, two Union cavalry brigades, all together 2,400 strong, left Jefferson City. Commanded by Brigadier General John McNeil, the troopers made their way south in the direction of the Missouri-Arkansas border. That landmark soon was crossed by Sterling Price, whose first aim was indeed the state capital. Led by Fagan's cavalry division, the two infantry corps were marching on parallel roads to the north.

    Early on July 12, 1864, Fagan's lead brigade, 800 men under the command of Colonel Archibald S. Dobbins, an Arkansas planter born in Tennessee, arrived at the small town of West Plains directly neighboring the border to Arkansas.

    The history of West Plains dated back to 1832, when settler Josiah Howell created the first settlement in the region known as Howell Valley. The location of West Plains led to nearly constant conflict due to the proximity to what was then the border between the Union and Confederacy. West Plains was largely burned to the ground, and Howell County as a whole was devastated. No major battles occurred in West Plains or Howell County however until the summer of 1864, but much of the devastation came from constant guerrilla warfare.

    The Federal cavalry advanced in a southern direction up until they encountered Peace Valley, reaching the hamlet after dark on July 12. The column was composed of Brigadier General John McNeil’s 1st Brigade, numbering 1,400 troopers; Brigadier General John B. Sandborn’s 2nd Brigade of 1,000 men and the battery of the 5th Missouri Militia Cavalry sporting two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles under Lieutenant Adam Hillerich.

    At 1 am on the 13th, the men were roused from their rest and ordered to move out. As the Federals traveled across the countryside, McNeil covered his advance with a heavy screen of pickets and sent small parties ahead to observe the roads and fords to mask his approach to Howell Creek. The head of the Union column reached Spradlin Ford at 8 am.

    Despite McNeil's precautions during his move to Peace Valley, the Confederates knew he was coming. By 6 pm the day before Dobbins' scouts had located McNeil's men near that hamlet. However, Dobbins still did not know whether the enemy intended to cross at Spradlin Ford or at Brandsville, several miles farther down the river. Belatedly divining the enemy’s goal, Dobbins moved to reinforce his 20-man picket party at Spradlin Ford with 40 more sharpshooters, but only 11 of the newcomers had reached the ford by daylight. In addition, Dobbins ordered all the regiments of his brigade to send sharpshooters down the road leading from West Plains to Spradlin Ford.

    At Spradlin Ford, the Confederates nervously awaited the Yankees. Meanwhile, they constructed an abatis on the south side bank of the ford and manned rifle pits that had been dug along the shore. The defenders also occupied two houses that overlooked the ford, as well as a nearby barn. As McNeil neared, the Southerners had only 30 men defending the ford with another 40 troopers five miles to the west where the creek ended. Captain William L. Anderson of Anderson's Arkansas Cavalry Battalion was in charge of the defense.

    Duel at the Ford

    At 8 am McNeil's blue column came within sight of Spradlin Ford, Sandborn’s brigade leading the way. In advance of the column were 100 men from the 8th Missouri Militia Cavalry whose task was to dash across the ford and capture the Southern pickets on the other side. Covering this move with small-arms fire would be two dismounted squadrons of the same regiment. The advance guard splashed into the water, which was so high it washed over the backs of their horses, but they were driven back by the fire of the well-protected Confederate sharpshooters on the southern shore. Two more attempts were also repulsed. A member of the 8th Missouri Militia Cavalry reported, “The firing was very sharp and incessant and it seemed as though our men could never cross in the face of that deadly fire.”

    A frustrated Sandborn, seeking to break the deadlock at the ford, sent a small body of men downstream a quarter of a mile to flank the defenders, but the deep water and steep riverbanks foiled the attempt. After 30 minutes of failing to get his men across the river, Sandborn opted for a more direct way to break the enemy resistance and get his men across the ford. He ordered his second in command, Colonel John E. Phelps from the 2nd Arkansas Cavalry to force a passage. The Colonel formed the men of the 2nd Arkansas Cavalry into a column of fours and led them across Howell Creek, where they immediately ran afoul of the abatis and were peppered by the well-aimed fire of the Confederates in their rifle pits. Southern bullets felled Phelps' horse and wounded the Colonel in the face. Seeing their leader fall into the water, the men of the 2nd Arkansas Cavalry beat a hasty retreat back to the northern bank of the river.

    Wounded and exposed to enemy fire, Phelps nevertheless called for volunteers with axes to wade the river and dismantle the abatis. Twenty troopers came forward and, under cover of friendly carbine fire, went to work to destroy the wooden impediment. With the colonel himself leading the way,the loyalist troopers from Arkansas once more plunged into the water and made for the other side but once again were driven back by heavy Confederate rifle fire.

    As more Federals dismounted to add covering fire for the axe men working at the abatis, Phelps gathered men of the 8th Missouri Militia Cavalry and directed their commander, Colonel Joseph J. Gravely to “either cross or not return.” Followed by Phelps, the balance of the 8th Missouri Militia Cavalry and the 2nd Arkansas Cavalry sped toward the ford and into a torrent of renewed enemy gunfire. The hail of bullets caused the Arkansas troopers to break and run at the water’s edge, while Phelps was wounded a second time, this time in the left cheek. His horse was mortally wounded as its rider fell to the earth. Dragged to the north bank by some of the axe-wielding pioneers, a frustrated Phelps turned his gun on the Confederates.

    The Arkansas men soon rallied, and with the 8th Missouri Militia Cavalry and the pioneers in tow, galloped into the frigid river. Firing their handguns as they rode, the soldiers made it across Howell Creek and charged at the barn, causing the Confederate defenders to flee. After a few daring attacks on the Rebel rifle pits, combined with the Southerners running out of ammunition, the Federals took some of the vulnerable places. Seeing no hope for a further defense, Anderson escaped.

    Soon the remainder of Sandborn's brigade crossed the river and broke the Confederate resistance at the ford, capturing 25 of the defenders as they tried to retreat. Over the next two hours the abatis and the road over Spradlin Ford were cleared of obstacles, allowing McNeils brigades to finally cross the river.

    The Federals advance

    While giving his men time to water their horses and take a short breather, McNeil rode ahead to scout the terrain beyond Spradlin Ford. He spotted an open plain a quarter of a mile up the road toward West Plains Court House and surmised that it would be there that any future battle with Dobbins would occur. The brigadier formed his regiments and at 10:15 am moved forward, leaving one squadron to guard Spradlin Ford. The blue-clad horsemen rode through the little settlement of West Plains, and followed the road southwest toward. Now McNeil's own brigade led the way with the 13th Illinois Cavalry deployed as skirmishers as well as the 13th Missouri Cavalry and 5th Missouri Militia Cavalry following as their support. The column moved slowly and cautiously with scouts investigating every piece of wood they came to. All in all it was a cautious advance and missed any opportunity to catch Dobbins' regiments isolated and possibly beat them in detail.
    As noon approached, Confederate skirmishers in the nearby woods drove back their Union counterparts. In response, the Federals brought up their artillery section and shelled the woods. The shelling drove out the enemy from the timber line, allowing McNeil's command to push through the wood and form a battle line in anticipation of an enemy attack. As the Federals cautiously moved forward, they spied Dobbins' brigade drawn up for battle on the far side of a wide field.

    Dobbins' Counterattack

    Although the Federals had a large numerical advantage, McNeil did not intend to attack Dobbins' position. Undaunted by the odds against him or the drubbing he had already received from his opponents earlier in the day at the creek, Dobbins elected to take the fight to the enemy. The Confederate commander’s decision was probably reinforced by the fact that if his attack failed McNeil would have been able to push on towards Price's unsuspecting infantry column.

    Dobbins sent his own regiment as well as McGhee's and Witt's Arkansas Cavalry at the center of the Union line, while the Lyle's Arkansas Cavalry and Anderson's Arkansas Cavalry Battalion struck McNeil's left. After crossing a small ravine, the Dobbins', McGhee's and Witt's troopers bore down on three squadrons of the 17th Illinois Cavalry posted on either side of a small stand of trees. Seeing the threat, McNeil brought up the 13th Missouri Cavalry and placed it 100 yards to the left of the Illinois troopers. The Union men deployed in a double line, the first line with carbines at the ready, the second rank eager to use their sabers.

    As the Confederates slogged through the muddy ground, their left was exposed to small-arms fire delivered by the 17th Illinois Cavalry. The Confederate advance was slowed by the muddy terrain, and their close-ordered formations quickly became ragged and fragmented. Colonel James H. McGhee's regiment was hit by enemy artillery fire the minute it started its advance toward the Yankee position. After they had passed through the enemy’s lines, the Federal gunners abandoned their battery. McGhee's men then attempted to capture the enemy guns but were prevented from doing so by a double fence and determined Union sharpshooters. Under heavy fire, the unsupported regiment retreated a quarter of a mile.

    As McGhee retired under enemy fire, Dobbins and Witt came within 25 yards of the position held by the 13th Missouri Cavalry. As the Rebel horsemen approached in three assault columns, the Union troopers poured lethal volleys into them. The Southerners retreated in small groups but then turned to charge again. The time was favorable for a Federal counterstroke before the retreating Arkansas units could rally and charge once more. After a short delay, the 13th Missouri Cavalry was ordered to charge, and the Confederates were pushed back to their starting position.

    While events took place on the Federal right, Lyle's Arkansas Cavalry and Anderson's Battalion tried to turn the enemy’s left flank. Under intense artillery fire by the two guns under Lieutenant Adam Hillerich and having to knock down a fence that stood in the way, the gray-clad troopers approached the Federal line only to veer to the left and right due to the heavy cannon fire they were receiving. On the Union left the 5h Missouri Militia Cavalry crashed into Lyle's men. The toll of dead and wounded was great, and the Confederates, outnumbered, broke and ran. Sandborn's brigade joined the pursuit of the enemy but halted at the ground from which Dobbins' counterattack had begun.

    Concerned about low ammunition, and used-up horses, McNeil ordered a retreat to Spradlin Ford. Sandborn's men covered the reverse movement, which was shadowed by small bodies of Confederates with an occasional rifle shot fired at the withdrawing bluecoats. While the engagement had cost the Yankees less than 80 casualties, they had inflicted almost 130 losses on Dobbins' brigade. More importantly however Dobbins' stubborn resistance in the face of a superior foe indicated to McNeil, that this had been no isolated foraging party but part of the main rebel column. He was almost certain to finally have located Pap Price and his army. On the same evening, riders were sent out to inform Rosecrans about the direction of the rebel advance.
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    XII. Moving through the Ozarks
  • XII. Moving through the Ozarks


    As soon as Rosecrans was made aware of Price's intentions, he sent a number of orders to his subordinates. Because he now was assured that Schofield and his Army of the Ohio were well underway to join him in St. Louis, the department commander ordered Major General Andrew J. Smith's two divisions as well as the brigades under Colonel Edward F. Winslow, Brigadier General Thomas Ewing and Brigadier General E. C. Pike as well as both batteries of the 2nd Missouri Light Artillery, together about 13,400 men and 8 guns to join Jefferson City's 5,800 defenders, leaving only Senator Benjamin Gratz Brown's 5,000 Home Guards in the second most important city of the state of Missouri.

    Meanwhile, McNeil's and Sandborn's cavalry brigades were hard pressed down south in the Ozarks. After being informed about the routing of Dobbins' brigade near West Plains, Major General James F. Fagan, commander of Price's mounted wing, had taken the reverse as a personal slight. As his brigades were following the Federals to the North, clearing the way for Walker's and Parsons' infantry corps, Fagan pondered about how to pay the Yankees back. After having crossed Boone Creek west of Licking on July 17, he sensed an opportunity to trap the uppity northerners. Intentionally Fagan sent out his second smallest brigade (Dobbins' roughly handled regiments were foraging the countryside at that time), William F. Slemons' 1,000 troopers, to engage the Federal rearguard under Sandborn with the explicit orders to retire westwards at the first opportunity, feigning a retreat. Sandborn, after sending word to McNeil, followed on Slemons' heels until the former had recrossed Boone Creek, dismounted and formed his men into line of battle. Sandborn, now authorized by McNeil, who had turned his brigade about to join him, to bring on a general engagment, neared the stream without noticing McCray's Confederate brigade, 1,700 strong, concealed in the woods behind Slemons.

    While Sandborn deployed his nearly 1,000 men Fagan sent word to Brigadier General William L. Cabell several miles south about the developing chance. After he gave up the crossing, as he intended to do, and moved west he correctly assumed that he would be followed by McNeil. Cabell moving north from Bucyrus with his 2,700 men would strike the Union column in the flank. If everything worked as planned then Cabell would seize the Boone Creek crossings behind the enemy cavalry trapping them between the two wings of Confederate cavalry. The Federals began the battle acting precisely as Fagan had hoped. After a futile effort to force a crossing at the bridge the 2nd Arkansas Cavalry was sent on a flanking march for a ford. The delay created by the time necessary to complete this flanking manuever allowed Cabell to move into position to execute the plan. After flanking Slemons out of his position on the west bank of Boone Creek, Sandborn forced him back more than a mile from the stream. At this point Brigadier General McNeil arrived with his 1,400 troopers and had Sandborn's men step to the side so that he could take the lead with his brigade. While McNeil advanced westward toward Ellis Prairie Sandborn was to follow. As McNeil was being easily confused by Slemons and McCray, Cabell gained the ground from which the trap could be sprung.

    Like all military matters things did not go exactly as planned. The execution of the trap was transformed by an unaccounted circumstance. In violation of his orders Sandborn did not immediately follow McNeil forward. Instead he threw out pickets and ordered his men to prepare dinner. As his command settled down to graze their horses and feed themselves the distance between them and McNeil grew larger. Slemons and McCray moved back west of Ellis Prairie with McNeil's command following. McNeil gradually outdistanced any hope of support from Sandborn and became isolated in front of Slemons' and McCray's brigades. Sandborn, meanwhile, rested somewhat unprepared in Cabell's line of march.

    After a several hour delay to complete the feeding process Sandborn awoke his exhausted men with an order to move out. There was no sign of any enemy as they began their move west in a column of fours.The order of march had the main column led by the 2nd Arkansas Cavalry followed by the 8th Missouri Militia Cavalry. The movement had traveled barely 300 yards when a mounted vidette was spotted in the tree line to the south. At first he was mistaken for a returning member of McNeil's command but all questions about his identity were removed when a minie ball struck down the horse of on of the leading riders. The forest was full of Cabell's Confederate cavalry.

    The 8th Missouri Militia Cavalry reacted rapidly to the new threat. The command was dismounted and took cover behind a nearby fence while a messenger was sent to inform Sandborn of the enemy presence. The head of the column was turned around and Sandborn soon had both of his regiments in line. One of the gamiest fights against odds was on. It was clear to the outnumbered Federals that the fight was to regain the bridge before they were cut off. Cabell was indeed trying to hold the Union line in place with his dismounted troopers while cutting off the route to the bridge. For his part Cabell was somewhat astonished to find this amount of opposition here. He expected that the entire Union column would be to the west and he could take the bridge without any resistance. The following fight was descibed as one of the most obstinate character. Unfortunately for Cabell, Sandborn's quick reaction did not allow him to gain the bridge until the enemy had crossed. After a fierce fight only one battalion of the 2nd Arkansas Cavalry was trapped on the west side of Boone Creek and was captured. Sandborn's insistence on feeding his men had saved them but his retreat left McNeil men to fend for themselves. With Cabell in their rear holding the bridge as well as Slemons and McCray in their front it was a challenging prospect.

    At the first indication that Cabell was engaged in the Union rear, Slemons and McCray turned and attacked McNeil's brigade suddenly and vigorously. Fagan did not duplicate Cabell's error of not taking full advantage of his numerical superiority. He immediately ordered a full charge. McCray's brigade, led by the 47th Arkansas Mounted Infantry struck down the pike at the strung out Union column. After a brief period of stubborn resistance the furiosity of the attack created the breakdown of order and discipline in the Federal ranks. As Slemons' brigade began to envelop the Federal flank the melee became an every man for himself race against death or capture.

    Fagan later reported to Price that the Yankees broke and the rout was soon complete. The chase, conducted at a full gallop, lasted from outside of Ellis Prairie up until both partys reached Licking. Lost to McNeil were nearly 250 prisoners as well as several wagons and an ambulance. One of the wagons captured contained Sandborn's personal baggage and private correspondence. Both sides additionally lost about 50 men killed or wounded. After his reverse at the Battle of Boone Creek, McNeil never again seriously contested Price's march towards Jefferson City and returned to the state capital to help strengthen the defences. A storm was approaching.
    XIII. The Battle of Jefferson City (Part I)
  • XIII. The Battle of Jefferson City (Part I)

    When Price's forces were nearing Jefferson City, Federal Major General Andrew J. Smith, acting commander of all Union forces in the state capital, was caught in a pinch grinder. Although having assembled every available man, his 21,300 defenders were still outnumbered by Price's 25,000, who had brought his army's strength back up from the losses near Little Rock by recovered wounded and eager volunteers. At first glance this ratio looked not too bad from the perspective of a defending force, but another important factor had to be counted in. The absolute majority of Jefferson City's population was pro-Confederate. Smith therefore feared sabotage and backstabbing from civilians, should Price settle for a prolonged siege. For this reason, the Federals were obliged to strike the Rebels first. Smith saw his opportunity when Price's army approached the city from the south on July 23. While Fagan's cavalry protected Price's right because the latter expected Union reinforcements from the direction of St. Louis, his left flank, Parsons' infantry corps, was in the air. Therefore Smith detached Moore's division of 4,500 men to leave Jefferson City during the cover of night in a western direction and to circle around Price's open flank. As soon as he would have found the flank on the following day, Moore was ordered to assault it, while Woods' division and the majority of the Missouri State Militia would join the attack from the north. With this attack Smith hoped to be able to defeat one of Price's two corps decisively and to force the Confederate commander back on the defensive.


    After marching all night and through the morning, Moore's division arrived late but ready to advance against Price's Army of the West shortly before noon on July 24. Since Moore did not know where the left flank of Mosby Parsons' corps terminated, he had sought to align his three brigades abreast, facing eastward. Just prior to battle, Moore's brigades formed a crescent from left to right: Kinney on the extreme left; Gilbert deployed to Kinney's right; and Wolfe on the far right. However, by the time Moore's division was ready to strike Parsons' corps, the Confederate left wing had changed its configuration so that the Federals would assault a well-protected flank rather than the Southerner's rear.

    During the morning of July 24, Confederate Major General Mosby Parsons had moved his reserve forces, Clark's division, into position to protect his left flank. The Confederate position resembled a capital "L," with the lower, horizontal portion well placed to intercept the impending Yankee attack, which otherwise would have struck a weak spot at the end of the Confederate left wing. As Moore's division prepared to break from its cover and begin its delayed assault, Confederate skirmishers were positioned in the field ahead.

    Shortly after noon on July 24, 1864, three Union brigades under the command of Colonels T. J. Kinney, James I. Gilbert and Edward H. Wolfe emerged from the heavily wooded, underbrush laden terrain west of Jefferson City after an arduous fifteen-mile march and, moving east and southeast respectively, launched the first attack in the Battle of Jefferson City. These three brigades, more than half of the Union infantry led by Major General Andrew J. Smith, expected to move forward unopposed against the rear of Major General Mosby Parsons' corps. Instead, Kinney, Gilbert and Wolfe encountered Confederate infantry and artillery occupying an advantageous position along slightly elevated ground. Most of the Confederate troops, Simon P. Burns' and Charles S. Mitchell's brigades, had arrived in their positions late in the morning.

    When the fighting started, the three Confederate divisions that comprised Parsons' corps were deployed along a front of more than a mile that resembled a capital "L", with the longer vertical portion extending west–east and the shorter horizontal segment extending north–south. Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby's and Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke's divisions were located near the top of the long part of the "L," facing Jefferson City to the north.

    Parsons' line connected on its right with the left of Major General John G. Walker's corps, which was located in the vicinity of Price's temporary headquarters. It's infantry was only lightly engaged on the first day of the Battle of Jefferson City, but its artillery had a role in the late afternoon fighting. Parsons' center division, Shelby's, connected with Clark's division to the left and Marmaduke's to the right.

    Burns' and Mitchell's brigades had been in reserve before moving into their battlefield positions on the morning of July 24. Burns' brigade moved first, marching west to a position at the far end of the lower part of the "L". The head of Burns' column, the 10th Missouri Infantry Regiment, was aligned along an north–south road with its sister units. After Burns' column arrived, Mitchell's brigade moved westward from where it had been in reserve, behind Shelby's line. Together, Burns and Mitchell, 2,200 troops, were in line with Harris' Missouri Battery. These guns faced west and south, the directions from which Moore's Union division soon would sweep forward. The attacking Federals did not expect to encounter two brigades with cannons aimed at them from elevated ground. Still, they carried on with their assault march.

    The fighting between Burns' and Mitchell's units of Clark's division and Kinney's, Gilbert's and Wolfe's brigades of Moore's division was among the few engagements late in the Civil War in which the opposing forces met in the open field, with no earthen works to protect either side. The Confederate infantry, supported with artillery fire, beat back the Yankees, but a Union column maneuvered into the gap at the angle in the Southerner's line and made threatening progress against Burns' right flank. Illinois and Indiana infantry, under the command of Colonel T. J. Kinney, caught Burns' right slightly exposed and in the same instant opened intense fire against the left flank of Shank's brigade of Shelby's division. At this critical moment in the battle, A. J. Smith ordered his second veteran division, Woods', to strike the Confederate front from the north. Combined, Woods and Moore brought up 7,500 infantry against less than ideally aligned 5,300 men under Clark and Shelby. The Confederates were taking a severe beating and the two division commanders decided to refuse the line in order to lessen the pressure put on them. Four brigades of Rebel infantry streamed to the southeast, but reformed under the watching eyes of corps commander Mosby Parsons on and around local high ground bythe name of Cedar Hill.

    The successful Federal assault against Parsons' flank, spearheaded by Moore, and the subsequent Confederate tactical retreat brought an end to the first phase of the day's battle. By reforming Parsons' two left divisions, the Confederate corps commander took the sting out of the Federal surprise attack. Still, the initial Yankee exploitation of a gap in the Rebel line, presaged greater gains, albeit temporary, from the ensuing attacks against Marmaduke's division to the east.


    Cedar Hill, later named Shanks' Hill by the Rebels after the struggle for its control on July 24, 1864, became the scene of the most ferocious fighting on the first day of the Battle of Jefferson. Opposing troops fired on each other at murderously close range and at times engaged in hand-to-hand combat, aided by bayonets and clubbed rifles. Shanks' men, the famous Confederate „Iron Brigade“ raised by Joseph Shelby, entrenched on the hill with Jackman's brigade to the right and Burns' brigade to the left, while Mitchell's small outfit was moved to the rear to provide support when needed. The high ground soon became the focus point for parts of four Union brigades that were converging on the landmark in order to tear open the extreme left of Price's army.

    Shanks' men fended off continuous Union attacks and suffered immense losses in the process. The northerners however were taking horrific casualties themselves during their nearly continuous wave of attacks on July 24, but they came close to dislodging the Rebels from the strategic high ground before being checked. During two hours of intense fighting, the Yankees captured a short portion of the Confederate line and established themselves in a ravine near the hilltop. However, the Federals failed to dislodge the Iron Brigade that especially honored its name on that occasion.

    Hoping to help Moore's and parts of Woods' troops take Cedar Hill Hill, A. J. Smith instructed the two brigades of Missouri State Militia and Winslow's provisional brigade to attack Marmaduke's division, which remained in control of the treeless high ground. Prior to attack, the Missouri State Militia occupied the southern section of Jefferson City's fortifications. The three brigades under Colonel Edward F. Winslow, Brigadier General Egbert B. Brown and Brigadier General Clinton B. Fisk were mobilized from behind the fortifications, and deployed into line of battle with Winslow and Brown at the front and Fisk in reserve.

    Winslow's brigade attacked first, moving from behind the fortifications charging southward against Colton Greene's brigade from Marmaduke's division. The other front line brigade on the left, Brown's, followed Winslow into combat. Even though the second prong of the Federal attack was delayed, it achieved partial success when a weak spot was found in the Confederate line between Greene's and Freeman's units. Fisk's 1,800 men charged forward while Brown and Winslow kept the Rebels occupied, broke through, and threatened to overrun Marmaduke's whole division. The gap that had been opened in the Confederate line could have, if further exploited, turned the tide of the battle against Price's Army of the West.

    General Price, observing the battlefield action from his headquarters, personally directed cannon fire from three different batteries (Collins', Connor's and Lesueur's Missouri Artillery) against the Yankee front and behind it, thwarting further gains and preventing reinforcements. Colonel Charles S. Mitchell, Parsons' only reserve at that point, was alerted to the dire threat posed by the breakthrough. Mitchell gathered his men and galloped on his white stallion toward the collapsed front of Marmaduke's division. He led his the 8th and 9th Missouri Infantry Regiment as well as Ruffner's Missouri Infantry Battalion, supported by artillery fire, in a counterstrike that hurled back Fisk's brigade and restored Marmaduke's line. The Confederate troops did not pursue their retreating foes, and the fighting came to a close. Combat continued until dark at Cedar Hill.

    The day's fierce fighting had cost Parsons' corps significantly. The Confederates had taken 3,500 casualties out of 9,200 men engaged. While Marmaduke's division had suffered comparatively lightly, Shelby's division had lost nearly 55% of its men while Clark reported about 45% casualties. Shanks' Iron Brigade was left with 600 effectives out of 1,400 that had gone into line that same morning.

    The Federals however had been hurt even more. Out of 13,300 men engaged, 5,500 were killed or wounded. A. J. Smith's veterans had nearly broken themselves assaulting Cedar Hill and lost 43% of their men. The other brigades committed had to report about 40% losses. During the night, Smith's beaten legions retreated back into the relative safety of Jefferson City's defenses.
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    XIV. News from the Eastern Theatre
  • XIV. News from the Eastern Theatre (June 20 - July 24)


    Beginning of the Siege of Petersburg

    After Ulysses S. Grant had crossed the James River on June 18, 1864, the Overland Campaign had effectively ended and Lee's and Grant's forces were now engaged in the Siege of Petersburg as the city was the last obstacle between the Union army and the Confederate capital, Richmond. As a result of the Federal failure to take Petersburg by assault, the Union supreme commander focussed on securing the three remaining open rail lines connecting Petersburg and Richmond.

    Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road

    On June 22, Birney's II and Wright's VI Corps advanced against the Weldon Railroad and encountered Confederate divisions under Cadmus Wilcox and William Mahone. While the main Rebel forces were holding both Union corps in place, Mahone sneaked an assault column to the rear of the II Corps via a ravine. The following suprise attack routed two of Birney's divisions that fell back to their own earthworks. A counter attack on the next day proved inneffectual because Mahone's men had already vacated the captured positions. To the south, a heavy skirmish foirce from the VI Corps was driven back by Wilcox' division. The alltogether inconclusive fight cost the Federals nearly 3,000 casualties while the Confederates lost fewer than 600 and remained in possession of the vital rail line.

    Battle of Saint Mary's Church

    On June 24 Philip Sheridan's Union cavalry returned from their failed effort to cut the Virginia Central Railroad and gathered supplies near White House in the vicinity of the James River. At St. Mary's Church Wade Hampton attacked two brigades of cavalry under David McMurtrie Gregg with five of his own brigades. The Rebels outnumbered the Federals by almost two to one and were able to envelop their positions and subsequently drove Gregg and his force from their breastworks. The resulting delaying action however enabled the wagon train to move towards the James River without being bothered. Gregg's losses were about 350 while Hampton took 250 casualties.

    First Battle of Ream's Station

    On June 29, Federal cavalry divisions under James H. Wilson and August Kautz advanced against the Wilmongton and Weldoin Railroad in southern Virginia. At Ream's Station they encountered Mahones Confederate infantry and cavalry from Rooney Lee's division. Around noon, Mahone struck the Union forces from the front while Rooney Lee outflanked the left end of their line. The attack succeeded in splitting the Federal forces and Wilson as well as Kautz were forced to cut their way back to the Union lines around Petersburg via cross-country races. Union losses were around 400 while the Rebels took about 200 casualties.

    Early's Washington Raid

    Much less static warfare was going on in the Shenandoah Valley however. After Jubal Early had defeated David Hunter's Union army at Lynchburg, the Confederate Army of the Valley struck in the direction of Maryland and Pennsylvania. Early had been informed, that an invasion was going on in Missouri and he therefore would not be obliged to set everything on one card and risk his force. For this reason he calculated how to inflict the maximum terror and confusion on the Federals while conserving his men in the most efficient way.

    Battle of Monocacy River

    On July 9, Early attacked an outnumbered Federal force under Lew Wallace at Frederick, Maryland along the Monocacy River. Wallace's Maryland Home brigade had, with support from Rickett's division of the VI Corps, intercepted Early and was determined to slow him down as long as possible. While Rodes' and Ramseur's divisions kept Wallace's forces in place, Gordon's and Breckinridge's divisions with McCausland's cavalry brigade in the van crossed the Monocacy via a ford in the south. It took both divisions the better part of the afternoon to fully deploy, but the Confederates were able to reap the fruits of their endeavor when they finally converged on the Federal left flank held by Rickett's division. The VI Corps men collapsed and nearly 1,200 out of 3,500 were taken prisoner. All along the line, 500 more Federals were killed or wounded while Early took around 500 combined casualties. He decided not to pursue Wallace's remnants in the direction of Baltimore, rested his men and put them on the march towards Washington DC the next morning.

    Battle of Fort Stevens

    In the morning of July 12, Early reached the outskirts of the Union capital near Fort Stevens. Scouts had informed him that two corps from the Army of the Potomac had joined the capital's defences. Those news did not unhinge the Confederate commander, because he had never expected to take Washington in the first place. He was even eager to have drawn so much attention away from the Petersburg lines and decided, to make a show of his appearance. For several hours he bombarded Fort Stevens and feigned several assaults without ever really committing any formation larger than a brigade. After he had lobbed a series of shells over the walls into the city, Early retreated late in the afternoon. He was sure to have scared the good people of Washington enough for the time being.

    Battle of Cool Spring

    As expected, the Union VI and XIX Corps under Horatio Wright immdiately pursued Early, who was falling back to Virginia. When Thoburn's Federal division followed Early's men over the Shenandoah River on July 17, Wharton's, Rodes' and Gordon's divisions turned around and suddenly charged the Union men. Driven with the back to the river, Thoburn fended off several savage attacks especially from Rodes' division until darkness put an end to the fighting. During the night the Federals retreated to the northern bank of the river and counted their dead while Early chose to continue heading to the south. 600 Federals and 400 Confederates became casualties that day.

    Second Battle of Kernstown

    Union commander Horatio Wright had mistaken Early's continued withdrawal for a sign of his army's dissolution and decided to return the majority of his forces to Petersburg, where Grant was not making any headway. As soon as he had departed the Valley however, Early changed his demeanor and went on the offensive again. Only George Crook's Army of West Virginia had been left to deal with the Confederates in the Valley and those nearly 10,000 men were no match for Early. On July 24 his 14,000 strong Army of the Valley assaulted Crook near Kernstown, where Stonewall Jackson had been defeated two years before. A flank attack of Wharton's division rolled up the Union line and sent Crooks men into flight. At the cost of not more than 600 men, Early had inflicted almost 2,000 casualties on the federals, two thirds of them prisoners taken by his pursuing cavalry. As soon as the news reached Grant, he decided to commit a decent force to put an end to Early's presence in the Valley once and for all. The man to lead this operation was to be Philip Sheridan.
    XV. The Battle of Jefferson City (Part II)
  • XV. The Battle of Jefferson City (Part II)


    July 25, 1864 found Major General Andrew J. Smith in a perilious situation. He had waited for any rebel movements until around 8 AM, but then, finding none, lulled into a false sense of security. The fatigued and decimated men of his own corps and the Missouri State Militia (Fisk's and Brown's brigades) took watch over the right flank while the Enrolled Missouri Militia (Pike's, Philips' and Ewing's brigades) occupied the breastworks in the center, directly in front of the city. To the left, McNeil's and Sandborn's cavalry brigades guarded the army's lifeline, the road towards St. Louis.

    The second day of the Battle of Jefferson City began early that morning as James Fagan’s cavalry, leading the Confederate advance, probed McNeil's line. The Union troopers alerted Smith and the EMM troops were ordered to pick up their rifles form their ranks.

    Problems began to arise for the Federal infantry almost as soon as the first shots were fired. Chief among their problems was the status of their defensive positions; in a changing world of combat, earthworks had risen to much prominence up until the summer of 1864. And simply stated, the Federal lines in front of Jefferson City were horrible.

    A. J. Smith’s men had dug the works hastily, because they did not arrive long before their adversaries and the local militia knew nothing about the erection of defensive positions. After being defeated in their offensive move the day before, the Union forces now had to rely on those lackadaisical positions. One of the men of Wood's veteran division commented that, “The works were too low to protect the troops. They were of very poor quality and reliance.”

    The first Confederate troops hit Smith’s corps to the right around noontime. Driving in the Federal skirmishers, the rebels under the direction of John Marmaduke (the only division of Parsons' corps with offensive capabilities left) were soon turned back. Colonel David Moore in temporary command of the corps sent his skirmishers forward again, and an hour later, at 1 PM, Marmaduke's cautious attack was again repulsed under a severe fire of musketry.

    By 3:30 PM, Marmaduke’s men had attacked and been repulsed twice. Moore’s front was holding, and the Missouri State Militia as well as the Enrolled Missouri Militia were providing support on his left. For the time being, the firing slackened.

    While the Federal soldiers waited in their lines, the Confederates were planning their next move. Major General Sterling Price took control of the situation as he brought up his main striking force, John G. Walker's corps, as well as all his seven batteries of artillery. The artillerists soon began positioning 42 guns in order to open fire.

    As Price brought up the majority of his fresh infantry, and placed his guns, Smith’s own forces were having new problems. With their three artillery batteries exposed, Union gunners and horses soon began falling prey to Confederate sharpshooters. With nowhere to take shelter behind the low works, the Federals continued sustaining casualties. In the face of the sharpshooting, several militia companies had to take up the places of fallen gunners.

    Finally, around 5 PM, having taken close to two hours to prepare, Price was ready to strike. The guns opened fire, shelling the Federal lines for close to forty minutes. The fire proved especially destructive because of the faulty design of the earthworks.

    Around 5:40, Price ordered Walker to unleash his infantry assault. The day’s fighting and the strenuous artillery barrage had softened the Federal infantry’s resolve. Striking the Union lines, Walker’s men acted like a nutcracker; the Federal line split open at the seams. Confederate soldiers vaulted over the works, sent the Union infantry reeling and took hundreds of prisoners while, on the Confederate right, James Fagan unleashed an assault of his own.

    As the Union troops were fleeing through the city, Price ordered his men to halt their advance. He feared carnage among his state capital's civilian population if he decided to take the city now by force of arms. Instead of sending his jubilant infantry after the Yankees, he ordered Fagan to put more pressure on McNeil and Sandborn to cut Smith's line of retreat. The Federal troopers however were in a good defensive position and their repeaters and carbines blunted several mounted and dismounted assaults against their firm line.

    No matter what he tried, Fagan and his men were turned back again and again. After taking a round to his right shoulder, Fagan had to retire from the field and ordered his exhausted men to cease their assault. While covering themselves with glory and expeding almost their last rounds, Brigadier Generals John McNeil and John Sandborn enabled major parts of Andrew Smith's forces to reach the road to the east. While the Confederates had taken another 800 casualties, mainly from Fagan's division and Walker's corps, Smith lost 600 killed and wounded as well as 2,100 unwounded prisoners. All in all, the struggle for Jefferson City had cost the Confederate Army of the West 4,300 men; Andrew Smith had taken 8,200 losses.

    With the nearing dusk, Price's victorious troops entered the capital of Missouri as liberators. Leading the army were Shelby's and Clark's divisions, who had bled the most during the struggle for the city. Then Marmaduke and Churchill followed with Polignac bringing up the rear. Cheering Missourians lauded their countrymen and several families celebrated impromptu reunions when the column entered the city. At the head of the troops rode Sterling Price and governor-in-exile Thomas Caute Reynolds.
    XVI. A Quartermaster's Dream
  • XVI. A Quartermaster's Dream


    The next morning, both Confederate corps prepared for a proper military parade in the fields before the city. Price and his commanders knew the state capital was filled with numerous old friends and a couple thousand people sympathetic to the cause and their expectations were not disappointed. As various units rolled through the open landscape, the citizenry took to the streets to cheer and cry for their heroes. By 11 AM, Sterling Price arrived at the city center to greet the cheering crowds and what had been a spontaneous celebration now turned into near bedlam. The civilians flocked to see him and for the rest of the day the scene baffled description. With no great exaggeration, Price recalled that „old and young, men, women, and children, vied in their salutations and in ministering to the wants and comforts of my wearied and war-torn soldiers“. That evening, Confederate Jefferson City continued the celebration with an exuberant and alcohol-drenched party at the governor's mansion.

    Early on July 27 after a light breakfast, Pap Price and an entourage that included Governor Reynolds, moved to the steps of the city hall where both continued to receive and greet guests. Below them, several of the army officers worked through the process of questioning and paroling the prisoners captured during the two-days-battle.

    In Jefferson City, Price finally got the reception he had come to expect. There were too many friends to meet and too much applause to receive for him to leave quickly. But more importantly, Price's personal reception was part of a larger outpouring of Confederate sympathies that netted the army thousands of recruits.

    Counting in the return of the slightly wounded, the fight for the city had brought Price's army down to little over 22.000 able-bodied men. The following two weeks of the stay in and around the Missouri state capital witnessed the arrival of nearly 7,000 volunteers from central and north western Missouri. Thousands of Southern sympathizers who had long waited for Price to liberate their state now willingly left farms and families to be a part of the grand expedition. Other, less enthusiastic, Southerners, when faced with the prospect of being conscripted by Union militia, chose finally to join the cause of the South. Still, such men needed to be encouraged, oraganized and brought to the army. This task was being fulfilled by the numerous host of recruiting officers sent into the state before the invasion with explicit instructions to raise whole units and then report back to the army when it had reached Jefferson City.

    Among the most successful of these was Colonel James T. Searcy who, in short order, raised a brigade worth of men in the Boonslick counties and presented it to Price only three days after the fall of the capital. Captain George S. Rathbun was another successful recruiter although being a native Ohioan. The one-time state legislator from Lafayette County went to his hometown and final destination, Lexington. The local Union militia fled, leaving the city as easy pickings for the anxious Rathbun. Over the next days, Rathbun conscripted no less than eight hundred men between the ages of seventeen and fifty. Former guerilla chieftain and commissioned Confederate Colonel Caleb Perkins dutifully brought nearly a thousand men from Audrain, Calloway and Boone counties while Lieutenant Colonel D. A. Williams, formerly with Jackman's brigade, had combed Livingston and Carrol counties and came up with twelve hundred men, at least one hundred of whom had ridden with Bloody Bill Anderson in the past. Those efforts did not mark the end of Price's endeavor to aquire men in the region. Throughout their stay, the commanders granted liberal furloughs to their soldiers. While Price was especially sympathetic to letting his soldiers see long-missed family and friends, the primary focus was to recruit among those. As a result, in early August Price was able to field an army of about 29,000 men. Their spirits were high and enough supplies were in stock. The Rebels were now able to contemplate their next moves [1].

    Due to the influx of new Missouri volunteers and confronted with the fact, that replenishments for Arkansas and Texas units were not in sight for the foreseeable future because of the distances, the Confederate army had to be reorganized in order to retain its combat efficiency. The volunteers that had not been used to bolster existing units were forming a new division commanded by Brigadier General M. Jeff Thompson, who had only days before rejoined the army after an exchange of prisoners of war. The order of battle was changed in the following way:

    Army of the West, Major-General Sterling Price, 29.000 men

    I. Corps, Major-General Mosby Parsons, 11.400 men

    Churchill's Division, Brigadier-General Thomas J. Churchill, 4.500 men

    Tappan's Brigade, Brigadier-General James C. Tappan, 1.500 men
    24th, 27th, 33rd, 38th, Hardy's Arkansas Infantry

    Gause's Brigade, Colonel Lucien C. Gause, 900 men
    26th, 32nd, 36th Arkansas Infantry

    Hawthorn's Brigade, Brigadier-General Alexander T. Hawthorn, 1.200 men
    34th, 35th, 37th, Cocke's Arkansas Infantry

    Dockerty's Brigade, Brigadier-General Thomas P. Dockerty, 900 men
    18th, 19th, 20th Arkansas Infantry, 12th Arkansas Infantry Battalion

    Clark's Division, Brigadier-General John B. Clark jr., 2.600 men

    Mitchell's Brigade, Colonel Charles S. Mitchell, 900 men
    8th, 9th Missouri Infantry, Ruffner's Missouri Infantry Battalion

    Burns' Brigade, Colonel Simon P. Burns, 1.700 men
    10th, 11th, 12th, 16th Missouri Infantry, 9th Missouri Infantry Battalion

    Thompson's Division, Brigadier-General M. Jeff Thompson, 4.300 men

    Tyler's Brigade, Colonel Charles H. Tyler, 800 men
    14th, 15th Missouri Infantry

    Coffee's Brigade, Colonel J. T. Coffee, 1.200 men
    17th, 18th, 19th Missouri Infantry

    Perkins' Brigade, Colonel Caleb Perkins, 1.200 men
    20th, 21st, 22nd Missouri Infantry

    Searcey's Brigade, Colonel James T. Searcey, 1.100 men
    23th, 24th, 25th Missouri Infantry


    Harris' Missouri Battery
    Collins' Missouri Battery
    Hughey's Arkansas Battery
    Blocher's Arkansas Battery

    II. Corps, Major-General John G. Walker, 11.800 men

    Polignac's Division, Major-General Camille A. J. M. Prince de Polignac, 5.200 men

    Waul's Brigade, Brigadier-General Thomas N. Waul, 1.200 men
    8th, 18th, 22nd Texas Infantry, 13th Texas Cavalry (dismounted)

    Luckett's Brigade, Colonel Philip N. Luckett, 1.500 men
    3rd, 16th, 17th, 19th Texas Infantry, 16th Texas Cavalry (dismounted)

    Roberts' Brigade, Colonel Oran M. Roberts, 1.000 men
    11th, 14th Texas Infantry, 28th Texas Cavalry (dismounted), Gould's Texas Infantry Battalion

    Looscan's Brigade, Colonel Michael Looscan, 1.500 men
    15th, 17th, 22nd, 31st, 34th Texas Cavalry (dismounted)

    Shelby's Division (dismounted), Brigadier-General Joseph Shelby, 2.900 men

    Iron Brigade, Colonel David Shanks, 1.300 men
    5th, 11th, 12th Missouri Cavalry, Elliott's Missouri Cavalry, Crisp's Missouri Cavalry Battalion

    Jackman's Brigade, Colonel Sidney D. Jackman, 1.600 men
    Hunter's, Jackman's Missouri Cavalry, Schnable's, Williams' Missouri Cavalry Battalion, 46th Arkansas Infantry

    Marmaduke's Division (dismounted), Brigadier-General John S. Marmaduke, 3.700 men

    Greene's Brigade, Colonel Colton Greene, 1.100 men
    3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th, 10th Missouri Cavalry, 14th Missouri Cavalry Battalion

    Freeman's Brigade, Colonel Thomas R. Freeman, 2.600 men
    Freeman's, Fristoe's Missouri Cavalry, Ford's Arkansas Cavalry Battalion


    Hynson's Texas Battery
    Connor's Missouri Battery
    Lesueur's Missouri Battery

    Cavalry Division, Major-General James F. Fagan, 5.800 men

    Cabell's Brigade, Brigadier-General William L. Cabell, 2.600 men
    Gordon's, Monroe's, Morgan's Arkansas Cavalry, Gunter's, Harrell's, Hill's Witherspoon's Arkansas Cavalry Battalion

    Dobbins' Brig, Colonel Archibald S. Dobbins, 700 men
    Dobbins', McGhee's, Witt's, Lyle's Arkansas Cavalry, Anderson's Arkansas Cavalry Battalion

    Slemons' Brigade, Colonel William F. Slemons, 900 men
    2nd, Calton's, Crawford's, Rogan's, Wright's Arkansas Cavalry

    McCray's Brigade, Colonel Thomas H. McCray, 1.600 men
    15th Missouri Cavalry, 45th, 47th Arkansas Mounted Infantry

    [1] This chapter was heavily influenced by excerpts from Kyle Sinisi's "The Last Hurrah". The actual numbers of recruits were maybe a quarter lower, but even in OTL many volunteers joined Price's force.
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