Battle of Marmiton River
Following the Battle of Mine Creek, Confederate Major General Sterling Price continued his cartage towards Fort Scott. In the late afternoon of October 25, Price’s supply train had difficulty crossing the Marmiton River[NB 1] ford and, like at Mine Creek, Price had to make a stand. Brigadier General John McNeil, commanding two brigades of Alfred Pleasonton‘s Union cavalry division, attacked the Confederate troops that Price and his officers had rallied, which included a sizable number of unarmed men. McNeil observed the sizable Confederate force, not knowing that many of them were unarmed, and refrained from an all out assault. After about two hours of skirmishing, Price continued his retreat and McNeil could not mount an effective pursuit. Price’s army was broken by this time, and it was simply a question of how many men he could successfully evacuate to friendly territory.
The battle occurred at a crossing of the Marmaton river, where the water was only two feet deep, and about thirty feet wide, with steep banks approaching and leading from the crossing. The river at this point ran east and west, with the troop’s crossing going from the north to the south. General John McNeil’s brigade approached the Confederate troops about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Troops engaged for the Confederates included Jeff Thompson’s brigade (formerly J.O. Shelby’s Iron Brigade), Slayback’s battalion, and the remnants of Marmaduke’s and Fagan’s divisions (Dobbin’s and Clark’s brigades). The reserves consisted of Jackman’s and Tyler’s brigades. At this point in time, Price’s army had only the three guns left of Richard Collin’s battery. It is estimated that Price had about 8,000 men at this point in time.
McNeil’s brigade halted about 800 yards from the Confederate line, and after a short delay, Pleasonton relayed orders to McNeil to attack. McNeil’s men were on foot at this time, having dismounted their horses, when Tyler’s brigade charged the Union line, mounted. McNeil had four guns, two Rodman’s and two mountain howitzers, which then fired at the attacking Confederates. Eleven were killed and 24 wounded, before Tyler’s men had made it 400 yards.
Benteen’s brigade then arrived, forming on the right of McNeil, with his three regiments of the 10th Missouri, and the 3rd and 4th Iowa cavalry, still mounted. Benteen ordered a charge, which was halted due to the soft condition of the ground. The 4th Iowa then rode to the right, and charged the Confederate line, but was counter-attacked. Five of his men were wounded, with none killed, while the Confederates had four killed and ten wounded. The Union troops disengaged, and all brigades marched to Fort Scott, with the exception of McNeil’s and Benteen’s, who were left on the field.
Price’s troops then left the field, towards Arkansas.
- Today the name of the river is spelled “Marmaton”
- TGossett. “Battle Summary: Marmiton River, MO”. www.nps.gov. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
- Sinisi, Kyle (2015). The Last Hurrah, Sterling Price’s Missouri Expedition of 1864. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 299–302.