I didn't even know there was a Battle of Springfield. The only battle I knew about was Wilson's Creek. I thought I knew it all, and then found out I didn't.
Here's an excerpt:
It had been a short, cold night for Confederate cavalrymen camped south of Springfield.
They awoke that Thursday, Jan. 8, 1863, to find frost on their blankets.
After riding the night before through Ozark, where a small Union garrison had already fled and set fire to its post, the Confederates stopped and bedded down for three or four hours' sleep, local Civil War historian John Rutherford said. Then it was on to their next fight: the Battle of Springfield.
The day ahead, 148 years ago today, would see repeated cavalry charges, deadly volleys of close range gunfire, artillery shelling and houses put to the torch.
Rutherford, a local history associate with the Springfield-Greene County Library District, said the approaching Confederates likely crossed ground that would become the National Cemetery -- where a number of them and their Union foes that day would eventually be buried.
The raid on Springfield was part of a strategy to hamstring Union operations in Arkansas. It was less a single clash of two armies and more a series of small, fierce firefights as the Confederates probed for weak spots in the Union defenses.
Confederate Brig. Gen. John Marmaduke and a cavalry force about 1,870 strong had left camp on the Arkansas River northwest of Little Rock on Dec. 31, 1862, and had ridden toward Missouri.
Two days later, a column led by Col. Joseph C. Porter left Pocahontas, Ark.
Marmaduke and Porter were to meet at Hartville, about 60 miles east of Springfield. Their mission, initially, was to disrupt Union operations, especially those directed at Arkansas.
Marmaduke, however, heard that Springfield -- a major supply depot for Union operations in southern Missouri and Arkansas -- was weakly defended. He turned toward Springfield and sent orders to Porter to meet him there.
Union scouts, meanwhile, spotted Marmaduke, and word reached Springfield on Jan. 7 that a Confederate force of 4,000 to 6,000 men was on the way.
The reported number of raiders was highly inflated, but the Union commander in Springfield, Brig. Gen. Egbert Brown, still had good reason to be alarmed. He had only 1,343 men in his command.
This report also directed me to a valuable website that I did not know about. If you're interested in the Civil War in Missouri, try this: Community Conflict: The impact of the Civil War in the Ozarks