Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Marion Lucas, Richard Troutman, Richard Stone

Degree Program

Department of History

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Early in the Civil War, the Union Army drove pro-southern Missouri leaders and their followers into Arkansas, and the state fell under Federal occupation. However, many people of southern sympathies remained in Missouri, and between 1862 and 1864 Confederate forces launched four large scale cavalry raids into the state from their Arkansas bases. Major General Sterling Price, C. S. A., led the fourth and largest of these raids, September through November, 1864.

An ex-Governor of Missouri, Sterling Price was the truly representative figurehead of the state's Confederate element. Throughout the war, he constantly believed that an oppressed, hidden majority of Missourians restlessly awaited the day when they could free themselves from Federal domination. Fearing that the Confederate cause was nearly lost, Price and his followers hoped to revive the hearts of southern sympathizers by a raid into Missouri. Political and military circumstances motivated General E. K. Smith, commander of the South's Trans-Mississippi Department, to authorize the expedition, and in September 1864 Price entered Missouri at the head of a 12,000 man cavalry force.

Price's expedition was a total fiasco. The expected uprising did not occur, and most of the 5,000 men who joined Price subsequently deserted. After suffering a crushing defeat at Pilot Knob, Missouri, Price's army moved across the central part of the state, and the invasion that was meant to redeem Missouri for the Confederacy turned into a chaotic, large-scale looting expedition. After being routed at Westport, Missouri, on October 23, Price's army fled south and subsequently disintegrated.

The expedition was basically an expression of the South's desperate desire in the fall of 1864 for a smashing victory that would change the tide of the war. However, the expedition's total failure weakened the South's Trans- Mississippi forces to such a degree that no major campaigns occurred in that department for the last six months of the war.


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