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Monday, April 29, 2013

Skirmish at Yellow Creek

Compared with the great Civil War campaigns back East, the struggle west of the Mississippi River had relatively few battles. Most of the fights were skirmishes that are all but forgotten today, yet they had a cumulative effect on the outcome of the war.

One such was the skirmish at Yellow Creek on August 13, 1862. Since August 9, Union forces under Col. Odon Guitar and Brig. Gen. Benjamin Loan had been pursuing pro-Confederate Missouri State Guard forces under Col. James Poindexter through Chariton and Livingston Counties in north-central Missouri.

The chase ran across 250 miles. The Union forces numbered 550 horsemen, while Poindexter's rebel force was much larger but suffering from supply problems. Col. Guitar estimated their number to be 1,500-2,000 but officers on both sides were not averse to exaggerating enemy numbers to inflate a victory or excuse a defeat.

Whatever the numbers involved, it was still a sound Union victory. The running fight cost the rebels horses and men, who were shot or fell by the wayside to be captured. The chase only ended when the rebels destroyed the bridge over the Muscle Fork river, stopping the Union pursuit cold.

Guitar boasted that by that point Poindexter only had about 400 men left, "with few arms and no ammunition. All of the latter I captured at Little Compton, with several hundred guns and horses, all his wagons, a large amount of clothing, and other plunder. In the round I have killed, wounded, and drowned 150 of his men and taken about 100 prisoners. Our loss has been 5 men wounded and some 10 horses shot."

He added, "I was unable to bring away a great part of the horses and plunder captured at Little Compton; besides, the condition of the greater part of them was such as to render them worthless. I have killed and worn down the greater part of my horses."


2 comments:

  1. Now that would be an interesting statistic - how many horse were killed during the war?

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    Replies
    1. It would be tough to count, but probably more than the human death toll. Horses not only got shot, but also ridden to death.

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