Print this page

The Battle of Dry Wood Creek

Missouri State Guard Major General Sterling PriceOn his way to Lexington, Missouri, Major General Sterling Price planned to raid Fort Scott just across the Kansas border in Bourbon County. He wanted to put a stop to the raids into Missouri from Kansas being led by the Jayhawkers, Charles Jennison and James Montgomery. Price sent the cavalry from Brigadier General James S. Rains' Division to clear out Lane's "marauding and murdering bands."

Kansas Senator James H. LaneEarly in 1861, Kansas Senator James H. Lane had raised a brigade of around 1,200 Kansas volunteer cavalry that would come to be known as the Kansas Brigade. Charged with protecting Kansas, Lane had stationed the Kansas Brigade at Fort Lincoln, Kansas about 12 miles north of Fort Scott (near present day Fulton, Kansas 66738). When he received word that Price was headed for Fort Scott, Lane cautiously led around 600 cavalrymen from the Kansas Brigade east to meet the enemy.

On September 2, 1861, the Kansas Brigade met up with Price's Missouri State Guard about 12 miles east of Fort Scott in and around Big Dry Wood Creek (near present day Deerfield, Missouri 64741) [ Waypoint = N 37 49.250 W 94 30.664 ]. Lane's cavalry had surprised the Missouri State Guard cavalry led by Brigadier General James S. Rains. Lane was severely outnumbered. After a two hour skirmish, he had to withdraw back to Fort Scott. The Missouri State Guard captured 84 mules from Lane's Kansas Brigade which has led many to refer to this engagement as the Battle of the Mules.

Missouri Governor Claiborne Fox JacksonPrice was satisfied that he had cleared the jayhawkers out of Missouri and continued heading north to Lexington, as Price wrote in a report sent to Missouri Governor Jackson:

"After chastising the marauding armies of Lane and Montgomery and driving them out of the State, and after compelling them to abandon Fort Scott, I continued my march towards [Lexington] with an army increasing hourly in numbers and enthusiasm."

Lane reported 11 casualties (5 killed, 6 wounded) resulting from the engagement. There was a report that the Missouri State Guard had 20 casualties (4 killed, 16 wounded).

However, once Price took his army north, Lane would move his Kansas Brigade into Missouri and raid the towns in the border counties. These raids would culminate in the Sacking of Osceola, Missouri on September 23, 1861. Lane's men killed nine of the town's men, robbed the bank, plundered stores, and looted the courthouse. This added to the hatred between Missourians and Kansans.

The Muse South African