You are now at the site of the only battle fought in the state of Kansas during the American Civil War. This battle is considered by many to be the largest cavalry battle of the entire war. More than 6,000 Confederate cavalrymen from the divisions of Marmaduke and Fagan formed a line of battle just north of Mine Creek. Facing them about 1,000 yards to the north were about 2,500 Federal cavalrymen from the brigades of Philips and Benteen. Mine Creek is a small stream but the ford along the Fort Scott Road is difficult and dangerous. Both banks are steep (10 to 25 feet) and treacherous. The ford had a rocky bottom but the far side bank was steep and was now slippery after most of Price's wagon train had already gotten across. The other two available fords have muddy bottoms and are generally not passable by wagons during wet weather.
The Visitor center has a number of interpretive displays explaining Price's Missouri Expedition. Inside the Mine Creek Battlefield visitor center you'll see Civil War-era uniforms, learn about the eyewitnesses to the battle, and see weapons from the battle. The best part of the site is the interpretive walking trail out in the middle of the battlefield. The 1.6 mile Prairie Loop passes through the area of the battlefield north of Mine Creek. The 1.2 mile Timber Loop traverses the area south of Mine Creek.
Make sure you get a copy of the Walking Trail Brochure. The next eleven tour stops follow the tour along this walking trail. There is another excellent brochure called the Battle of Mine Creek Kansas. It contains maps that show the location of the roads that existed in 1864 relative to the roads present today. This brochure is a great reference to use during the remainder of the tour. For more information, please see the incredible research done by author Dick Titterington and his The Civil War Muse Website. Also, you can obtain his books at Amazon here or by contacting his website.
It was the morning of October 25, 1864. The situation for Price's Army was precarious. It was strung out over a distance of 8 miles from Mine Creek to the Little Osage River. Price himself was encamped at the head of the column about eight miles south along with Shelby's Division. He planned to attack Fort Scott and capture what government stores were there. Marmaduke's Division had been given responsibility as rear guard for the retreating Confederate army. Marmaduke was back at Mine Creek dealing with a difficult situation there.
Around 11:00 A.M. Marmaduke found that the Mine Creek crossing was blocked. Because of the heavy rains, the creek was a raging torrent. The two available fords were backed up with over 100 wagons still trying to get across. To further complicate matters, a wagon had overturned and was now blocking the ford. Marmaduke had planned to get across and set up his rear-guard defense on the south side of Mine Creek. But now Marmaduke knew he needed to hold off the advancing Federals from the north bank until the remaining wagons could get across the creek. He sent word back to get support from Fagan's division.