Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Midlist Writer blog, where he talks about writing, adventure travel, caving, and everything else he gets up to. He also reproduces all the posts from Civil War Horror, so drop on by!

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for the Battle of Newtonia

The Battle of Newtonia on October 28, 1864, was the last Civil War battle in Missouri. The state had been in Union hands for more than two years when Confederate General Sterling Price led an invasion from Arkansas in September of 1864 in an attempt to take it back. He crossed the breadth of the state, fighting all the way until he suffered a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Westport near Kansas City. His shattered army fled south, suffering another defeat at Mine Creek shortly afterwards.

Still fleeing south, they were harassed by a small Union army led by General James Blunt. All the other Union forces had given up the chase so while Price's army was demoralized, they actually outnumbered the overeager Blunt.

When Blunt came upon Price's supply wagons at the rear of the Confederate column, he formed up his cavalry and led them in a charge. The rebels were exhausted and demoralized through a long march and a string of defeats, but one Confederate unit remained strong--General J.O. Shelby's Iron Brigade. They rushed to the rear and fought off Blunt's charge. Shelby held them off long enough for Price's army to slip away into the Indian Territory.

It wasn't the end of the rebels' troubles. They struggled through snow and hail, fighting starvation while smallpox ravaged the ranks. It is at this low point that the as-yet-unfinished sequel to A Fine Likeness begins. The protagonist is a cavalryman in Shelby's Iron Brigade and he has his own ideas of how to win the war.

Actually this was the Second Battle of Newtonia. The first was a small affair that took place on 30 September 1862 and was also a Confederate victory. The only book on these battles is Larry Wood's excellent The Two Civil War battles of Newtonia. Also check out Larry Wood's blog for lots of cool posts on Missouri history, especially the outlaws of the Ozarks.

Photo of Blunt courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

1 comment:

  1. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.


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