Rural Missouri - April 2013 - (Page 36)
Carter was then ordered to advance to Bloomﬁeld, where 2,000 Union troops were headquartered.
Their commander, Col. John McNeil, was despised
by Southerners as the “Butcher of Palmyra.” This
was the largest Union military force in the region
and worth capturing or dispersing. But Carter and
his men got mired in Mingo Swamp. McNeil and his
Union forces led by Col. John McNeil halt Confederate
men were gone by the time Carter’s mud-spattered
men and horses trudged into Bloomﬁeld.
push led by John S. Marduke into southeast Missouri
Marmaduke guessed that McNeil and his force
would pull back to Ironton or Pilot Knob. He waited
at Fredericktown with Col. Joseph Shelby’s Iron Brigade to intercept and attack the Union commander.
by Jim Denny
Marmaduke’s ﬁrst raid had forced the Federals to
Instead, on April 24, McNeil marched his force
withdraw their forces from northwestern Arkansas
into Cape Girardeau and took charge of the
back to Missouri.
defense of the heavily fortiﬁed town. Carter
Could the general repeat this feat in
n April 19, 1863, John S. Marmaduke
pursued him to the outskirts of town,
southeast Missouri and relieve the prescrossed the border into Missouri on his
where he waited for Marmaduke and
sure on Vicksburg and Little Rock?
second raid of the year. Three and a half
Shelby to join him and attack Cape
Marmaduke led the largest mounted
months earlier, the Confederate general
force yet to attempt a
led his raiders against Springﬁeld and
Marmaduke and Shelby learned of
cavalry raid at this stage
Hartville. This time, his two columns
McNeil’s location at about the same
of the Civil War. His
were headed toward the opposite end
time they received intelligence that
two columns comprised
of the state.
Union Gen. William Vandever had
5,000 Missouri and TexMarmaduke intended to cut a
ridden out of Pilot Knob with 5,000
as horsemen. But the
swath through southeast Missouri and
cavalry headed their way.
force was hobbled from
capture the Federal posts at Patterson
The Iron Brigade beat it out of
and Bloomﬁeld along with a quantity
Fredericktown and hurried by forced
Some 1,200 men had
of arms and horses necessary to fully
marches to Cape Girardeau.
no arms and 900 lacked
mount his entire force.
The Mississippi River town was stronghorses. If left behind, they
He could then advance toward Pilot
ly defended by four earthen forts
would likely desert. But
Knob and destroy tracks and bridges
and artillery emplacements.
if they tagged along,
along the St. Louis and Iron Mountain
Col. John McNeil
McNeil had 2,500 soldiers manthey would surely slow
Railroad. Or, he could threaten the
ning the trenches and reinforcements were
the columns until horses and
vital Mississippi River base of Cape
on the way. Nearby, Federal gunboats
arms were obtained
Girardeau. Or he could do all of
Jim Denny, a Co-Mo Electric member
for them courtesy of
from Lupus, brings the state’s Civil War
Marmaduke knew better than to
the enemy. A long
With Marmaduke rode the
history to life in Rural Missouri as we
attack such a redoubt. He ordered
wagon train also
highest hopes of the Western
commemorate the sesquicentennial of
Shelby to make a feint against the
Confederacy to help reverse
this time in our nation’s history. Order
Union works while he led the rest of
a military situation that was
Jim’s book, “The Civil War’s First Blood,”
the army southward.
The ﬁrst setbecoming increasingly dire.
online at www.ruralmissouri.coop.
Rain poured down in torrents as
Grant was advancing on Vicksthe battle developed. Shelby’s mock
burg, Miss., and threatening to
attack nearly turned into a full-blown
where a garrison of 400 Missouri milicut the South in half.
assault as he threw the Iron Brigade
tia guarded the town. Col. G. W. CartAnother Union army occupied the Mississippi
against Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin and
er’s Texas troops led the advance and
River bastion of Helena, Ark., and seemed poised to
Missouri State Militia cavalry units, who
squandered the element of surprise by
move on Little Rock and seize control of the Arkangave as good as they got.
ﬁring on a small Union outpost two miles
sas River Valley.
As the afternoon wore on, Shelby
from town. The noise of small arms
With Marmaduke on the rampage in southeast
Gen. John S. Marmaduke
ﬁnally managed to disengage and
and artillery ﬁre could be plainly
Missouri, Union commanders might have to halt the
act as rear guard for the withdrawal
heard in Patterson.
transfer of thousands of Missouri volunteers to the
of Marmaduke’s army.
The post commander, Col. Edwin Smart, set ﬁre
Vicksburg Campaign and hold back good regiments
Most of the raid’s 60 or so casualties occurred durto his store of supplies, mounted his troops and ﬂed
to protect valuable assets in the Iron Mountain
ing Shelby’s feint. Marmaduke now struggled to get
the town in the direction of Pilot Knob.
region and along the Mississippi River.
his men back to Arkansas. Hot on his heels were the
combined forces of Vandever and McNeil. He had to
get his men across the rain-swollen St. Francis River
at Chalk Bluff or risk losing his whole army.
There was no ferry or bridge at this crossing into
Arkansas, so a bridge had to be built on very short
order. Some desperate engineering produced a “crazy” bridge of lashed-together logs that heaved up
and down in the torrential current of the river while
thousands of soldiers made their precarious crossing.
The Federals were held at bay for hours while this
transfer took place. Once the army was across, the
crazy bridge was cut and carried away by the ﬂood.
No Federals felt inclined to build another bridge
and resume the pursuit. After a long slog through
more miry swamps on the Arkansas side of the St.
Francis River, Marmaduke’s bedraggled raiders eventually reached their ending point, on May 31, 1863,
at Jacksonport, Ark.
After the raid, Marmaduke’s rising star began to
recede. The raid came off as plodding and mismanaged. His superiors lost conﬁdence in him and split
his command in half. The raid had accomplished
Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign was already well
under way by the time Marmaduke crossed back
into Arkansas. The Federal regiments held back from
Vicksburg to protect southeast Missouri were later
engraving courtesy of Jim Denny
refashioned into a division of the Army of Arkansas
and played a key role in capturing Little Rock, Ark.,
An engraving from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper depicts the construction of Fort A in Cape Girardeau. The town
on Sept. 10, 1863. Among the defeated Confederates
along the Mississippi River was an important port for either side to control. In April 1863, Confederate Gen. John S.
ﬂeeing southward was John S. Marmaduke.
Marmaduke devised a plan to capture the town and push north, but Union forces held off his advances.
Marmaduke’s Cape Expedition
April 26, 1863 ~ Battle of Cape Giradeau
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - April 2013
Rural Missouri - April 2013
Table of Contents
It’s all about redemption
Best of rural Missouri
Hearth and Home
Marmaduke’s Cape expedition
The soldier’s paper
Rural Missouri - April 2013
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