On September 24, 1864, Confederate General Sterling Price and his troops arrived in the small railhead town of Pilot Knob Missouri on a trek to regain Missouri for the Confederacy and divert troops from the struggling Eastern Theater of battle. His infamous raid took him from southeast Missouri through the center of the state and then briefly into Kansas whereupon what was left of his army began retreating into Arkansas, sealing that fate of the country west of the Mississippi to the Union.
That was 150 years ago this year. As the sesquicentennial has arrived it is interesting to see what events are being planned across this infamous path that Price travelled. Some portions appear to have embraced their significance and will be planning events, while smaller locations, no less significant however, seem to be passing this anniversary by.
Last year on my Facebook group Civil War in Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas, I made the statement that I had a bold plan of travelling Price’s route on the anniversary of this event. Unfortunately, I am not seeing a whole lot of activity at locations where there should be.
The Reenactment of the Battle of Pilot Knob, however is indeed hosting a major event at the Fort Davidson Historic Site. The event will take place on Friday, September 26th and last to Sunday, September 28th. I have been invited by a Civil War reenactor friend of mine to “put on the wool” and join him in his artillery unit. I’m still working on that but hoping to be able to get my uniform and gear in order before it becomes too late. But regardless, my travel will start at Pilot Knob.
From there the path lead to a small town in south-central Missouri called Leasburg, where the retreating Union army took a stand against the pursuing Confederates. From what I have been told, nothing is being planned at the location, which is a shame.
From there the next major stop would be at Boonville, MO. along the Missouri River. Unfortunately, it does not appear that anything will be happening here as well.
The next stop would be Lexington. So far, no information on an event held here as well.
From there the retreating Confederates would duke it out in Westport, MO, knows as the “Gettysburg of the West”. There will sesquicentennial events there on Saturday October 25th. http://www.battleofwestport150.org/
From this point on the Confederates were on the run and on October 25th would face their final demise at Mine Creek and Marmiton River. There will be a significant 150th event held at the Mine Creek Battlefield SHS near Pleasanton KS Saturday, October 18, 2014. More information will be forthcoming at the Kansas Historical Society webpage.
In full retreat, the Confederates had one final engagement on October 28th at the second battle of Newtonia, MO. CSA General J.O. Shelby held off the Federals and allowed Price and the rest of the Confederates to safely retreat into the Indian Territory and finally to Laynesport AR ending what turned out to be a disastrous endeavor from the outset.
There are other stops along the way that were much smaller engagements, such as Glasgow, or not directly linked with Prices Raid such as Centralia and Richmond that are also having events in 2014. It saddens me that some of the sites of more importance are letting this anniversary pass. The next anniversary, the Bicentennial, I will probably not be around to see (I would be 97). I remember the Bicentennial of the American Revolution in 1976, and I hope that on the Bicentennial of Prices Raid there is more effort put into the significance of the event.