The Battle of Carthage, Missouri

First Trans-Mississippi Conflict of the Civil War


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About the Book

The Battle of Carthage, Missouri, was the first full-scale land battle of the Civil War. Governor Claiborne Jackson’s rebel Missouri State Guard made its way toward southwest Missouri near where Confederate volunteers collected in Arkansas, while Colonel Franz Sigel’s Union force occupied Springfield with orders to intercept and block the rebels from reaching the Confederates. The two armies collided near Carthage on July 5, 1861. The battle lasted for ten hours, spread over several miles, and included six separate engagements before the Union army withdrew under the cover of darkness. The New York Times called it “the first serious conflict between the United States troops and the rebels.” This book describes the events leading up to the battle, the battle itself, and the aftermath.

About the Author(s)

Kenneth E. Burchett teaches at the University of Central Arkansas. He lives in Branson, Missouri.

Bibliographic Details

Kenneth E. Burchett

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: 38 photos, 2 maps, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6959-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9283-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1

Rebellion and Reprisal
1. Crisis in the Making 5
2. Trouble in Southwest Missouri 11
3. Federal Occupation of Springfield 15
4. Rebel Rendezvous at Roup’s Point 22

Signs of War
5. Lyon and the Great Comet 29
6. Generals at Opposite Ends 36
7. Union Blockade at Neosho 42
8. Closing Forces 50
9. Carthage, Blossom on the Prairie 58
10. Slavery in Jasper County 64
11. On the Brink of Battle 68

The Battle of Carthage
12. First Contact 73
13. The Advance 78
14. State Guard Order of Battle 83
15. Itching for a Fight 89
16. Sigel’s Nationals 96
17. Shotguns and Cannons 102
18. The Cannonade 109
19. Rebel Cavalry on Both Flanks 118
20. Standoff at Dry Fork Creek 128
21. Charge at Buck Branch 136
22. Spring River Crossing 144
23. Melee in Carthage 150
24. Chase Up the Sarcoxie Road 156

After the Battle
25. A Late Supper 165
26. Uncertain Victory 170
27. Hell on Retreat 177

Postscript 183
Appendix: A Story of Casualties 185
Notes 196
Bibliography 210
Index 21

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “expands our knowledge of the battle…recommended”—Civil War News
  • “Missouri Civil War battle histories appear only infrequently, and this is a good one, heartily recommended to serious students of the conflict’s first year in the Trans-Mississippi Theater”—Civil War Books and Authors
  • “an extremely well-researched work that details the events from beginning to end”—North Carolina Historical Review
  • “there is much to commend this study. Burchett is a skilled storyteller and offers many interesting anecdotes…a valuable addition to the bookshelf of any Civil War enthusiast”—Kansas History
  • “Burchett has done a masterful job providing the reader an easy to read, well researched and documented story of Missouri during the first three months of the Civil War. This book is a great addition to any Civil War library”—On Point
  • “well-researched with a great deal of detail…an excellent job describing the battlefield terrain and tracking the time-specific events occurred. This is a very interesting and enjoyable book about an overlooked battle and a good story of the early war in the Trans-Mississippi”—Blue & Gray Magazine
  • “excellent…a very readable and informative volume…valuable…recommended”—The Journal of America’s Military Past
  • “a detailed, readable account…valuable contribution”—
  • “well researched…meticulously documents the strategic objectives and maneuvers of the battle, but never loses sight of its human element”—H-Net Reviews
  • “a detailed description of the six separate engagements that made up the 10 hour Battle of Carthage”—Reference & Research Book News