Friday, October 26, 2007


General Pleasanton, deciding the Union pursuit had gone far enough, took his 2 remaining brigades and marched toward Fort Scott. Blunt, believing Pleasanton was acting on Curtis' orders, also began moving in that direction. Curtis, seeing his entire force marching off corralled Pleasanton and a heated argument ensued. Pleasanton, noting that *he* reported to Rosecrans kept moving. Curtis kept Blunt on Price’s trail.

Price’s retreat continued into Missouri. Stopping to rest and forage south of the tiny village of Newtonia, he was surprised by Blunt’s advancing Yankee troopers on October 28th. Shelby’s Confederate division, including the crack but severely weakened Iron Brigade, deployed and engaged the federals while Price pushed his retreat southwest.

In turn, Shelby’s stronger force attacked both federal flanks, but Sanborn’s US brigade arrived, turned the tide and forced the butternut troops into a fighting retreat. Blunt had again caught up to but failed to capture or destroy Price.

Curtis, however, was elated. He felt that Price was within his grasp. He ordered Blunt and Pleasanton to hurry the pursuit. However, William S. Rosecrans was simultaneously ordering all troops in the Department of Missouri to return to their home bases. Four brigades began moving back through southwest Missouri withdrawing from the pursuit.

Curtis, shocked and disappointed, realized there was nothing to do but turn north and call off the pursuit. Even a telegram from Henry W. Halleck in Washington stating, “General Grant desires that Price be pursued…” could not reverse the course of the campaign. Attempts were made to restart the pursuit but all momentum had been lost.

The chase was over but not the retreat. Price sent 3 brigades to their home counties in Arkansas and furloughed two others. His greatly reduced force crossed through the Indian territory and into Texas. Finally, on December 2nd they reeled into Laynesport, Arkansas. The retreat was over.

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