Army of Missouri

The Army of Missouri was an independent military formation during the American Civil War within the Confederate States Army, created in the fall of 1864 under the command of Maj. Gen. Sterling Price to invade Missouri. Price's Raid was unsuccessful, and his army retreated to Arkansas, where it was broken up and absorbed into the Confederate Army of the Trans-Mississippi. After the war, Price, accompanied by his subordinate Brig. Gen. Jo Shelby and several members of his former command, relocated to Mexico where they unsuccessfully sought service with the Emperor Maximilian prior to returning to civilian life in the United States.

The Army of Missouri traces its roots to the Missouri State Guard, which was created in 1861 under Sterling Price to enforce Missouri's official stance of "armed neutrality" in the conflict, while formally remaining in the Union. The Guard eventually became part of the Confederate States Army after engaging in skirmishes with the Union troops under Nathaniel Lyon who successfully removed elected Governor Claiborne Jackson and replaced him with a pro-Union governor. As the Missouri State Guard, they would win victories over the Union at the First Battle of Lexington and Wilson's Creek, where Lyon himself was killed.

Price and his State Guard troops were subsequently incorporated into Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn's Army of the West, where they suffered defeats at Pea Ridge, Arkansas, Iuka, Mississippi and Corinth, Mississippi. Following the Battle of Corinth, Price was sent back to Missouri by Confederate President Jefferson Davis but without any of the troops he previously commanded, who remained with Van Dorn. He raised a new force, and conducted operations in Arkansas in support of Southern efforts there.

By the late summer of 1864, a good portion of the Union Army in Missouri had been reassigned eastward to aid in efforts to seize Atlanta and to help in other campaigns. The Confederacy ordered Gen. E. Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, to send his infantry across the Mississippi River to reinforce beleaguered Southern troops in the east. However, Smith had alternative plans. He desired to "liberate" Missouri from Federal control, seizing the key cities of St. Louis and the state capital at Jefferson City, reinstating the Confederate governor and his supporters. Smith decided to send a large force of mounted infantry and cavalry under former Missouri governor Sterling Price to carry out this plan, which he also hoped might wreck Union President Abraham Lincoln's hopes for reelection that fall. Price eagerly accepted his new assignment, having previously lobbied for just such an opportunity; he named his new command "The Army of Missouri".

Considering that St. Louis was originally defended by only 8,000 Union troops (later reinforced by other Federal formations under Maj. Gen. Andrew J. Smith), Smith's hopes were not entirely unfounded–at least in the beginning. Were Price able to seize his primary objective, with its huge arsenal and warehouses filled with supplies, Union successes in Georgia and Virginia might yet be offset, leading to a loss for Lincoln and snatching a Southern victory from the jaws of defeat.

The Army of Missouri was organized into three divisions, led by Maj. Gen. James F. Fagan, Maj. Gen. John S. Marmaduke and Brig. Gen. Joseph O. Shelby, all veterans of previous combat during the war. It fielded fourteen artillery pieces. A breakdown of the Army of Missouri by divisions, brigades and regiments may be seen here.

Price's men formed a rather motley crew, with a quarter of his force being made up of deserters.Hundreds of Price's men were barefoot, and most had no personal equipment such as canteens or cartridge boxes; many carried jugs for water, and stuffed ammunition in shirt and pants pockets. Nearly 4000 were unarmed, as Price was unable to procure sufficient small arms for his command. Price's orders were to strike first at St. Louis, then make for Jefferson City if that was too stoutly defended. From there Price was then to continue onward to the west, cross into Kansas and head south through the Indian Territory, "sweeping that country of its mules, horses, cattle, and military supplies".


Major General Sterling Price (September 8-December 3, 1864)
Major General John B. Clark, Jr. (temporary: December 3, 1864)


Battle of Fort Davidson (September 27, 1864)
Fourth Battle of Boonville (October 11, 1864)
Battle of Glasgow (October 15, 1864)
Battle of Sedalia (October 15, 1864).
Second Battle of Lexington (October 19, 1864)
Battle of Little Blue River (October 21, 1864)
Second Battle of Independence (October 24, 1864)
Battle of Byram's Ford (October 22–23, 1864)
Battle of Westport (October 23, 1864)
Battle of Marais des Cygnes (October 25, 1864)
Battle of Mine Creek (October 25, 1864)
Battle of Marmiton River (October 25, 1864)
Second Battle of Newtonia (October 28, 1864)

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