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Historical Marker: Shut In Gap

Tour Stop

Battle of Pilot Knob Historical Marker: Shut In Gap Directions: The Shut-In Gap historical marker [ Waypoint = N37 35.114 W90 35.336 ] is located across a low-water bridge over Stout's Creek.

  • From the Fort Curtis marker, return to State Highway 72 and turn right (east).
  • After about 2 miles, there will be an unnamed and unpaved road on the left.
  • Stout's Creek is right next to 72 Highway at this point and you should see the low-water bridge that crosses the creek. If you pass State Highway D on the right, then you have gone about 100 yards too far.
  • The low-water bridge is somewhat rickety. If the water is low, drive across the bridge.
  • The marker is on the left just after the bridge.

Douglas Gifford has directions to go to a different location in the Shut-Ins Gap [ Waypoint = N37 35.117 W90 34.960 ] a little bit further down State Highway 72. This is the actual narrowest point that the road passed through the gap, but access to this area is limited and in a particularly dangerous section of the highway. The Fort Davidson State Historic Site has future plans to develop the site and provide interpretive information on the importance of the gap. [43]

  • To get to this area from the marker, continue east on Highway 72.
  • After about 0.3 miles, you will cross a bridge over Stout's Creek.
  • There are places to pull off the highway just east of the bridge.
  • After parking, you can walk back to the bridge. Again, this is a very dangerous section of the highway.

Description: The text on the historical marker:

Battle of Pilot Knob

Shut-in Gap

September 26, 1864

12:30 P.M. – 6 P.M.

Through Shut In Gap passed the most direct route from the Arcadia Valley to Fredericktown. Advance Elements of the Rebel Army rode through the gap undetected and were not spotted until they approached a Union picket post at the Russellville Junction. Following a skirmish in Ironton a cavalry detachment led by Major Wilson drove the Rebels back into the gap. After Wilson was wounded he and his men retreated toward Arcadia. Fighting ceased at sunset.

The road from Fredericktown to Ironton passed through the Shut-Ins Gap, in between two fairly substantial mountains, both over 1100 feet in elevation. For Price to find another way to Fort Davidson would mean going about 20 miles north to Farmington or about 35 miles south to Greenville. So to get to Fort Davidson, Price's army had to pass through the gap here.
View Looking East Where Stout's Creek Goes Through the Shut-Ins Gap

Confederate Major-General Sterling Price (Library of Congress) Two thirds of Sterling Price's Army of Missouri was in Fredericktown when Price decided to make a move against the Federals at Fort Davidson. The only way to get to Fort Davidson was on the Fredericktown Road through the Shut-In Gap. Major-General Sterling Price wrote about ordering Major-General James Fagan to move his forces through the gap to Ironton: [44]

"On the morning of the 26th, being rejoined by Major-General Marmaduke's division, I proceeded at an early hour with Fagan's and Marmaduke's divisions in the direction of Ironton and Pilot Knob, at the same time sending forward a portion of Fagan's division to take and hold a difficult pass in that direction between two mountains within three or four miles of Ironton. This was effected rapidly and with success."

Once through the Shut-In Gap, Slemons Brigade would flush the Federal pickets in Russellville. By the afternoon of September 26th, the Confederates would be pushed all the way back to Shut-In Gap by the Federals. Lieutenant W. C. Shattuck, Company I, Third Missouri State Militia Cavalry Regiment described the fighting near the Shut-In Gap in the late afternoon on September 26th: [45]

"Just before the column entered the ' Shut-in,' Lieutenant Pape, either by order or by accident, had taken a road bearing to the right of the one occupied by our main body. I was ordered by Wilson to notify Pape of our withdrawal … I rode into the timber, overtook Pape and told him that his command would be cut off if he did not immediately fall back on the charge. I had hard work to make him understand his critical situation, but we finally came out into the road on the charge. It was already occupied by the advancing Confederates. We charged them upon the left flank of column, they gave way in every direction and we rejoined our command."

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