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Union Cavalry Charge

Tour Stop 3.4 [ Waypoint = N38 08.556 W94 43.375 ]

Directions to Stop #3.4: You should be able to see Trail Marker 4 off in the distance south of where you are standing at Trail Marker 3. Just follow the trail straight ahead (south) to the next marker. This tour stop is located near Pleasanton, Kansas 66075.

Price's Retreat Tour Stop 3.4 Looking SouthDescription: Curiously, Marmaduke and Fagan had not set out the Confederate line of battle to defend against well-mounted cavalry charge. When cavalry attack, they do so at a relatively narrow point in the enemy lines. Their objective is too break through the enemy lines and then continue the attack from behind the enemy lines. But Marmaduke and Fagan had not set up an effective reserve force to counteract a successful break in their lines by the attacking Federal cavalry. It could be argued that Marmaduke was constrained because of the wagon train that had still not gotten completely across Mine Creek.

Because of the impact on the battle's outcome, let's take a moment to discuss how the Federal cavalrymen were armed. Remember that most of the Confederates were armed with single shot muzzle-loading rifles, not particularly well-suited for mounted cavalrymen. Philips' Brigade was armed with the 15-shot repeating Henry Rifle and each man also carried a revolver. All the men in Benteen's Brigade were armed with the 7-shot repeating Spencer Carbine, a revolver and a saber. The arms of Benteen's Brigade were particularly well suited for a cavalry charge. The arms of the men in Philips' Brigade gave them overwhelming fire power against the Confederates. They would end up supporting the initial charge by Benteen with this fire power.

As soon as he arrived on the field of battle, Benteen realized the Confederates were in a difficult situation with their backs to Mine Creek. He quickly decided an all out immediate charge was the correct move. He formed to the left of the Fort Scott Road in a column of four regiments across a 400 yard front.

1. Tenth Missouri Regiment was first in the attack column

2. Fourth Iowa Regiment was second in the attack column

3. Third Iowa Regiment was third in the attack column

4. Seventh Indiana and Fourth Missouri Regiments combined were fourth in the attack column

Benteen sent a message to Philips asking him to support his attack and began his charge in a south-southwesterly direction.

Philips' Brigade moved out to support the attack. There had been a 300 - 400 yard gap between the Federal brigades to begin with, but this disappeared because both brigades charged at an angle and closed the gap. There were 2,500 cavalrymen charging straight at the Confederate lines. This may well have been the largest cavalry charge of the entire war. The Confederate artillery was firing cannister at the charging Federals. When they were within 300 yards of the Confederates, Benteen called out for the buglers to sound charge. You are standing near where the Federal charge began.

Price's Retreat Tour Stop 3.4 Looking Southeast (left)Price's Retreat Tour Stop 3.4 Looking Southwest (right)

However, abut 100 yards into the charge the Federal Tenth Missouri Regiment in Benteen's Brigade stopped the charge out of fear. Of course, this caused the charging regiments behind them to stop causing a lot of disorganization in the Federal lines. Benteen was screaming at them to continue the charge. At this point, Philips' Brigade also stopped charging about 300 yards from the enemy. They dismounted and began firing at the Confederates. At this point, the Confederates could have turned the tables on the Federals, but they were not advancing.

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