On July 5, 1861, a significant battle of the Civil War took place near Carthage, Missouri. Colonel Sigel of the Union Army was left to defend against a Confederate charge lead by the Governor of Missouri, Claiborne Fox Jackson, who brought with him the full force of the Missouri State Guard. In no other time in this war has a sitting governor lead his troops into an attack such as this. Spurred by the win at Fort Sumpter and as a revolt against President Lincoln’s directive for the Union Army to gather tens of thousands of men from the northern states, portions of the Confederate military were spurred into action to prevent further Union gains.
Governor Jackson considered secession, and to prevent this, General Nathaniel Lyon pushed Jackson and his troops from Jefferson City to Boonville, then further south into the southernmost part of Missouri. Colonel Sigel and his troops positioned themselves at Carthage with Jackson’s men just 15 miles away. Both camps were poised to move the morning of July 5, but upon learning of Sigel’s advance, Jackson took hold on “The ridge of the prairie, which sloped gently down toward Coon Creek” (“Battle”). Jackson’s 2,00 troops and 1,500 cavalry was not armed well. Sigel commanded 1,00 soldiers who had solid training and good weaponry. Sigel’s men fired the first shots, and for an hour, shots were volleyed and returned. The cavalry was dispatched by Jackson to cut Sigel off, but Sigel’s men pushed through the line. Jackson and the Confederacy claimed victory. However, Sigel also claimed victory since Jackson’s cavalry had not been able to hold off the Union’s bolt at the end of the battle. A total of 44 Union men were lost in this short but intense battle, and 74 men were lost for the Confederacy.
- “Battle of Carthage.” American Civil War Story. Web. http://www.americancivilwarstory.com/battle-of-carthage.html. Accessed 20 June 2017.