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Federal Entrenchments

Tour Stop

Directions: As you walk along the battlefield path, you can see the evidence of the federal entrenchments. When you come to a fork in the path, keep to the right and continuing walking to the north.

Description: Since the battle in 1861, this part of the battlefield has not been plowed. So you are seeing the remains of the actual entrenchments, hurriedly built by the Federals in September of 1861. As you can tell, the area occupied by the Federal defenders was the high ground in Lexington, Missouri.

As you walk, remember that by September 18th, the Missouri State Guard had surrounded the Federal entrenchments at Lexington. To your right (east and northeast) was the 8th Division commanded by Brigadier General James S. Rains. Bledsoe's Battery was deployed about 400 - 500 yards to the northeast at about 2 o'clock. To the northwest was the 2nd Division commanded by Brigadier General Thomas A. Harris and the 7th Division commanded by Brigadier General James H. McBride. To the northwest, Kneisley's Battery was deployed at about 11 o'clock.

Mulligan's account of getting started on the Federal defenses:

"At noon of the 11th we commenced throwing up entrenchments. We had selected college hill, an eminence overlooking Lexington and the broad Missouri. All day long the men worked untiringly with the shovel. That evening, but six or eight hours after we had commenced throwing up earth-works, our pickets were driven in and intimation given that the enemy were upon us. That night the enemy, seeing our preparations, remained on the other side of the bridge, but it was a night of fearful anxiety. None knew at what moment the enemy would be upon our devoted little band, and the hours passed in silence and anxious waiting Thus we waited until morning vigilantly and without sleep, when some one rushed in saying: 'Colonel, the enemy are pushing across the bridge in overwhelming force.'

"With a glass we could see them as they came. Gen. Price upon his horse, riding up and down through his lines, urging his men on. Two companies of the Missouri Thirteenth were ordered out, and with Co. K of the Irish brigade quickly checked the enemy, drove them back, burned the bridge, and gallantly ended their day's work before breakfast. The enemy made a detour, and approached the town once more by the Independence road. Six companies of the Missouri regiment were ordered out to meet them in the Lexington cemetery, just outside the town, and the fight raged furiously over the dead. We succeeded in keeping the enemy in check, and in the meantime the work with the shovel went bravely on, the diggers sometimes pausing in their work to cast anxious looks toward the graveyard where their comrades were engaged in the deadly strife, and yet the shovel was swiftly plied.

"This work was continued during the night, our outposts keeping the enemy in check, so that in the morning we had thrown up breast-works three or four feet in height. At 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon of the 12th the engagement opened with artillery. A volley of grape from the enemy was directed at a group of our officers who were outside the breast-works, which had an amusing effect. Every officer immediately sought the protection of the breast-works, and gained the inside of the lines of men. "

The Muse South African