Tue Jan 8, 2013, 04:09 AM
Sherman A1 (12,715 posts)
January 8, 1863 Second Battle of Springfield, MO
As the morning of January 8, 1863 dawned, two of the Confederate columns under Marmaduke approached Springfield from the south. Since Porter's and McDonald's columns had yet to arrive, Marmaduke occupied the early morning with foraging and capturing some of the Enrolled Missouri Militia about five miles (8 km) from Springfield. With McDonald finally present by 10:00 a.m., the Confederates dismounted three regiments about three miles (5 km) from Springfield and advanced to feel out the Union lines and develop their strength. After the Confederates had pushed two Union Missouri State Militia Cavalry Regiments two miles (3 km) north, the smoking ruins of burning homes on the outskirts of Springfield came into view. To provide an unobstructed view for his artillery in Fort No. 4 (located on the east side of South Avenue between Elm and Cherry Streets), Brown at the last minute ordered a number of homes burned along South Avenue.
Colonel Joseph Orville Shelby took command of the tactical operations, launching piecemeal assaults upon the Union center and west flank. The Confederates advanced over open ground against Fort Number 4, seeking such shelter as they could get from tree stumps, piles of rock, and the charred remains of the homes burned by the Union forces. Despite repeated efforts, the assault on the fort failed.
Shelby then resolved to take Springfield by an oblique attack from the west. The Confederates were drawn by the cover offered by a ravine that led uphill toward town from what is now the intersection of Grand Avenue and Grant Street. At the head of this draw stood a two-story brick academy surrounded by a stockade. Used by the Federals as a prison, it stood near the northwest corner of what is now the intersection of Campbell Avenue and State Street. The Union forces failed to garrison the college stockade, so the Confederates were able to seize the building easily and use it as their own fortress to return the fire from Fort No. 4. However, heavy fighting soon erupted around the stockade as the Union forces attempted to retake the college and stockade. The Confederates found a local advantage in numbers and pressed their own attack. This phase of the assault saw the most severe casualties, hand-to-hand fighting, and the capture of a cannon by the Confederates. Union troops on the west flank also were pushed back to College Street from their original position along the Old Wire Road and State Street. But Union reinforcements halted the Confederate drive and even pushed back the Confederates to the vicinity of State Street.
With the sun sinking, Marmaduke launched a final assault against Fort No. 4. The Union forces again repelled the attack. As night fell, the Confederates withdrew to the Phelps farm (now Phelps Grove Park). The Battle of Springfield had ended, and the Union supply depot was safe.
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