BATTLE OF SPRINGFIELD II – JANUARY 8, 1863
INTERIOR DEPT. SUMMARY: Brig. Gen. John S. Marmaduke’s expedition into Missouri reached Ozark, where it destroyed the Union post, and then approached Springfield on the morning of January 8, 1863. Springfield was an important Federal communications center and supply depot so the Rebels wished to destroy it. The Union army had constructed fortifications to defend the town. Their ranks, however, were depleted because Francis J. Herron’s two divisions had not yet returned from their victory at Prairie Grove on December 7. After receiving a report on January 7 of the Rebels approach, Brig. Gen. Egbert B. Brown set about preparing for the attack and rounding up additional troops. Around 10:00 am, the Confederates advanced in battle line to the attack. The day included desperate fighting with attacks and counterattacks until after dark, but the Federal troops held and the Rebels withdrew during the night. Brown had been wounded during the day. The Confederates appeared in force the next morning but retired without attacking. The Federal depot was successfully defended, and Union strength in the area continued.
Principal Commanders: Brig. Gen. Egbert B. Brown [US]; Brig. Gen. John S. Marmaduke [CS]
Estimated Casualties: 403 total (US 163; CS 240)
Result(s): Union victory, although the raid ultimately failed.
Stamp Location: Springfield History Museum on the Square (see Springfield I for alternate location at the Route 66 Springfield Visitor Center)
Website: historymuseumonthesquare.org & springfield1863.org
Chamber of Commerce: www.springfieldchamber.com
Address: Fox Theatre (during construction), 154 Park Central Square (during construction, temporary location at 157 Park Central Square)
Phone Number: 417-831-1976
WIKIPEDIA BATTLE SUMMARY: On December 31, 1862, three columns of cavalry under the command of Confederate Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke left Pocahontas, Arkansas and Lewisburg, Arkansas, and moved north on separate roads toward Missouri and the Union supply line. Marmaduke’s immediate objective was the destruction of the Union Army of the Frontier’s wagon trains and supply line between Rolla and Springfield. If successful, Marmaduke would cause elements of the Army of the Frontier to withdraw from Arkansas and pursue Marmaduke’s Division.
Marmaduke’s main column proceeded north through Forsyth, Missouri, where Marmaduke learned from scouts that the Union army’s major supply depot at Springfield was weakly defended. To clear the way for his Confederates, Marmaduke marched on Ozark, Missouri. The Union garrison stationed at Ozark withdrew and the Confederates burned its abandoned fort. A second column, commanded by Colonel Emmett MacDonald, destroyed the Union fort “Fort Lawrence” at Lawrence Mill on Beaver Creek, about ten miles southwest of Ava. A dispatch to the third column under Colonel Joseph C. Porter directed Porter to join Marmaduke at Springfield rather than at Hartville. If everything went as planned, all three commands would converge on Springfield in an attempt to capture the city’s lightly defended warehouses of military supplies.
As the morning of January 8, 1863 dawned, two of the Confederate columns under Marmaduke approached Springfield from the south. Since Porter’s and MacDonald’s columns had yet to arrive, Marmaduke occupied the early morning with foraging and capturing some of the Enrolled Missouri Militia about five miles (8 km) from Springfield. With MacDonald finally present by 10:00 a.m., the Confederates dismounted two regiments about three miles (5 km) from Springfield and advanced to feel out the Union lines and develop their strength. After the Confederates had pushed two Union Missouri State Militia Cavalry Regiments two miles (3 km) north, the smoking ruins of burning homes on the outskirts of Springfield came into view. To provide an unobstructed view for his artillery inside Fort No. 4 (located on the east side of South Avenue between Elm and Cherry Streets), Brown at the last minute ordered ten homes burned along South Avenue.
Colonel Joseph Orville Shelby took command of the tactical operations, launching piecemeal assaults upon the Union center and west flank. The Confederates advanced over open ground against Fort Number 4, seeking such shelter as they could get from tree stumps, piles of rock, and the charred remains of the homes burned by the Union forces. Despite repeated efforts, the assault on the fort failed.
Shelby then resolved to take Springfield by an oblique attack from the west. The Confederates were drawn by the cover offered by a ravine that led uphill toward town from what is now the intersection of Grand Avenue and Grant Street. At the head of this draw stood a two-story brick academy surrounded by a stockade. Used by the Federals as a prison, it stood near the northwest corner of what is now the intersection of Campbell Avenue and State Street. The Union forces failed to garrison the college stockade, so the Confederates were able to seize the building easily and use it as their own fortress to return the fire from Fort No. 4. However, heavy fighting soon erupted around the stockade as the Union forces attempted to retake the college and stockade. The Confederates found a local advantage in numbers and pressed their own attack. This phase of the assault saw the most severe casualties, hand-to-hand fighting, and the capture of a cannon by the Confederates. Union troops on the west flank also were pushed back to College Street from their original position along the Old Wire Road and State Street. But Union reinforcements halted the Confederate drive and even pushed back the Confederates to the vicinity of State Street.
With the sun sinking, Marmaduke launched a final assault against Fort No. 4. The Union forces again repelled the attack. As night fell, the Confederates withdrew down the Ozark Road to the Phelps farm (now Phelps Grove Park). The Battle of Springfield had ended, and the Union supply depot was safe. [Source: Wikipedia]