First Battle of Newtonia
Following the Battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862, most Confederate and Union troops had left northwestern Arkansas and southwestern Missouri. By late summer, the Confederates had returned to the area, which caused much apprehension in nearby Federally occupied Springfield, Missouri, and Fort Scott, Kansas. Confederate Colonel Douglas H. Cooper reached the area on September 27 and assigned two of his units to Newtonia, where there was a mill for making breadstuffs. In mid-September, two brigades totalling 1,500 men of Brig. Gen. James G. Blunt‘s division of the Union Army of Kansas left Fort Scott for southwestern Missouri.
On September 29, Union scouts approached Newtonia but were chased away. Other Federal troops appeared in nearby Granby where there were lead mines, and Cooper sent some reinforcements there.
On September 30, Union columns appeared before Newtonia and fighting ensued by 7:00 a.m. The Federals began driving the enemy, but Confederate reinforcements arrived, swelling the numbers. The Northerners gave way and retreated in haste. As they did so, additional Union reinforcements appeared and helped to stem their retreat. They soon renewed the attack, threatening the Confederate’s right flank. But newly arrived Confederates stopped the assault and eventually forced the Federals to finally retire.
Pursuit of the Federals continued after dark. Union gunners posted artillery in the roadway to halt the pursuit. As Confederate gunners observed the enemy artillery fire for its location, they fired back, creating panic. The Union retreat turned into a rout as some ran all the way to Sarcoxie, more than ten miles away.
Although the Confederates won the battle, they were unable to maintain themselves in the area given the great number of Union troops. Most Confederates retreated into northwest Arkansas. The 1862 Confederate victories in southwestern Missouri at Newtonia and Clark’s Mill were the South’s apogee in the area; afterwards, the only Confederates in the area belonged to raiding columns.
Newtonia was one of the few battles during the Civil War in which Native Americans played a significant role on both sides.
The Second Battle of Newtonia was fought near the same location on October 28, 1864.
First Battle of Newtonia Historic District
The First Battle of Newtonia Historic District is a national historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. Located in the district is the separately listed Mathew H. Ritchey House. The district also includes the Ritchey barn and barnyard site, a Civil War-era cemetery, the Newtonia Branch stream, the historic Neosho Road and the overall battlefield site.:5 The Civil War Trust (a division of the American Battlefield Trust) and its partners have acquired and preserved 8 acres (0.032 km2) of the Newtonia battlefield.
- U.S. National Park Service battle summary
- National Park Service (2010-07-09). “National Register Information System”. National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- Laura A. Hazelwood, Matt Stith, Tiffany Patterson, and Roger Maserang (May 2004). “National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: First Battle of Newtonia Historic District” (PDF). Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2017-01-01. (includes 15 photographs from 2003-2004)
-  American Battlefield Trust “Saved Land” webpage. Accessed May 23, 2018.
- Wood, Larry. The Two Civil War Battles of Newtonia. Civil War Sesquicentennial Series. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2010. ISBN 1-59629-857-X.