History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Price's Raid and the Battles of Linn County

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General Sterling PriceDuring the early years of the Civil War guerrilla raids into Kansas were frequent, but the event which caused the greatest excitement in the state was the Price Raid of 1864.


In September, 1864, Confederate General Sterling Price, with an army of from 5,000 to 10,000 men, started from Arkansas to march through Missouri and into Kansas. In Missouri he formed a junction with the commands of Generals Marmaduke and Shelby, and there were other additions to his force until it numbered 15,000 men or more. General W.S. Rosecrans was in command of the Union troops at St. Louis, and General Ewing was in command of the southeast district of Missouri. The latter engaged Marmaduke at Pilot Knob on September 26th. His command numbered about 1,000 men, with 13 pieces of artillery, and Marmaduke's strength was at least three times as great.


During the night, Ewing managed to extricate himself from a perilous position and fell back to Harrison, where he was surrounded the next day and retreated to Rolla. It began to look as if Price would sweep everything before him.


General Samuel R. Curtis, commanding the Department of Kansas, which included the states of Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado, had less than 5,000 men, and they were scattered over the entire district guarding frontier settlements and the overland mail routes. When news of the threatened invasion reached Kansas, Curtis was in Nebraska, General Blunt was west of Fort Larned, and General Sykes was in command of the District of Southern Kansas with headquarters at Lawrence. Curtis hurried to Fort Leavenworth, recalled Blunt from the west, and began preparations for the defense of the Kansas border. On September 24th he notified Governor Carney of Price's advance and requested him to call out the militia. A telegraph from General Rosecrans on October 2nd advised Curtis that Price's army was at Washington, Missouri, 70 miles west of St. Louis, and rapidly moving westward. On the 8th, the governor issued his proclamation calling out the militia and the next day Curtis issued an order calling all troops in the department to the border to resist Price's advance. General Blunt arrived that day at Olathe and relieved General Sykes. By the 11th, pursuant to orders issued by General George W. Deitzler, commanding the militia, some 12,600 of the state troops were assembled at Atchison, Olathe, Paola, Mound City, Fort Scott and Wyandotte, more than one-half of them being mobilized at Olathe.

In the meantime General Alfred Pleasonton had taken command at Jefferson City on the 8th and had sent General John B. Sanborn with 4,100 mounted men to follow Price. On the 14th Blunt moved to Hickman's Mills, Missouri, with three brigades commanded by Colonels Jennison, Moonlight and Blair. Price was now between two armies. In the rear were Rosecrans and Pleasonton in close pursuit, while in front were Curtis' army and the Kansas Militia waiting to give him a warm reception. General Blunt moved to Lexington, where he engaged Price's advance guard on the 19th and fell back to Independence, Moonlight's brigade being forced back to the Little Blue River. Here, Blunt's whole force was engaged on the 20th against ten times its number and fell back in good order to the Big Blue, where another engagement was fought on the 22nd, resulting in a decisive Union victory. Pleasonton and Sanborn joined Blunt that night and occupied Independence, Price's army resting near Westport.


The citizens of Kansas had responded nobly to Governor Carney's call, and on October 23rd some 20,000 of them were under arms. That day was fought the Battle of Westport, which ended in a complete defeat of the Confederates. On the 24th, Price crossed the state line into Kansas and that night encamped near Trading Post, Linn County, on the Marais des Cygnes, where his men committed a number of outrages, murdering old and unarmed men, robbing women and children of their food, and wantonly destroying property. Early on the morning of the 25th, the enemy was driven from his camp at Trading Post and across the ford, leaving behind the sick and wounded.


Price, Fagan and Marmaduke, with some 15,000 men, formed a line of battle on the north bank of Mine Creek soon after evacuating Trading Post, and Curtis was reinforced by Colonels Crawford and Blair. In the engagement that followed the Confederates were again ingloriously defeated, Generals Marmaduke, Cabell, Graham and Slemmon, with about 800 men and 9 pieces of artillery, being captured.




This practically ended the raid. Price was vigorously pursued and another victory was won at the crossing of the Osage River on the 25th. Three days later occurred the Battle of Newtonia, after which Price retreated precipitately beyond the Arkansas River. Governor Carney issued orders on the 27th for the militia to return to their homes, but the volunteer troops followed Price to the Arkansas River, where the pursuit ended. Claims aggregating several hundred thousand dollars were filed for services rendered and losses sustained during the Price Raid, and some of these claims were still unsettled in 1911.


Massacre of Marais des CygnesLinn County Civil War Battles

Battle of Trading Post/Marais des Cygnes (October 25, 1864) - Also known as the Battle of Osage and the Battle of Trading Post, this skirmish took place on October 25, 1864 in Linn County, Kansas during Price's Raid in the American Civil War. When Major General Sterling Price was leading  an expedition into Missouri, he encountered Union troops under Major General Samuel R. Curtis and Major General Alfred Pleasonton around Kansas City, Missouri. Price withdrew south into Kansas and Pleasonton, commanding in the field, engaged the rebel troops at the Marais des Cygnes River in Linn County.

After an artillery bombardment that began around 4:00 am, Pleasonton’s men attacked furiously. Although outnumbered, they hit the Rebel line, forcing them to withdraw. Casualties for this skirmish are unknown. The Union troops would once again pursued the southerners some six miles south and engage in a larger battle later in the day at Mine Creek.


The Battle of Mine Creek (October 25, 1864) - Also known as the Battle of the Osage, the Battle of Mine Creek was one of the largest cavalry engagements of the Civil War. In the fall of 1864 General Sterling Price led some 8,000 troops in a raid through Kansas. Arriving in the free state on October 24th, the Confederate forces camped on the Marais des Cygnes River where early the next morning they found themselves in a battle with Union Forces and withdrew six miles to the south. However, they were followed by the federal brigades under the command of Colonel  Frederick W. Benteen and Colonel John F. Phillips, of Major General Alfred Pleasonton’s Provisional Cavalry Division. The Union troops overtook the rebels as they were crossing Mine Creek where they were slowed by their wagons crossing the ford.


Battle of Mine Creek, KansasThough the Confederates quickly formed a line on the north side of Mine Creek, the Union troops, numbering about 2,500 commenced an attack on the far larger rebel army. The speed of the attack did not allow time for the cavalrymen to dismount, making the battle one of the largest mounted cavalry fights of the war. The southerners,  overwhelmed by the rapid attack, were soon surrounded. Though the battle lasted only about 30 minutes, when it was over the Union troops captured about 600 men and two generals – Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke and Brigadier General William L. Cabell. The Confederates, having some 1,200 casualties, retreated with their remaining men back into Missouri. The Union casualties were about 100.



Compiled by Kathy Weiser/Legends of Kansas, updated March, 2017.



About the Article: Much of this historic text was first published in Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Volume I; edited by Frank W. Blackmar,  A.M. Ph. D.; Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912. However, the text that appears on this page is not verbatim, as additions, updates, and editing have occurred.




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