For every Gettysburg, Antietam, and Vicksburg in the American Civil War, there were tens of smaller actions that did not involve the great Generals and large numbers of troops. However, these small actions often had real strategic consequences. On 8 January 1863, a Confederate advance led by Brigadier General John Sappington Marmaduke made an attempt to capture the important Union supply point at Springfield, Missouri. Marmaduke was a 1857 West Point graduate and had been severely wounded at the Battle of Shiloh. He would later be captured at the Battle of Mine Creek. The Supply point, led by Brigadier General Egbert B. Brown, was important to supplying the Union Army of the West. Brown was a former Mayor of Toledo, Ohio and a prominent Missouri grain merchant. He would be severely wounded at Springfield, but survived the end of the Civil War. The battle is unusual in the fact that it involved a substantial amount of urban combat..something fairly uncommon in the Civil War.
Second Battle of Springfield
The Union garrison was warned of the advance with a few hours to spare. The supply post was short on experienced soldiers
, but had the advantage of high ground in the form of four earthen forts around the town. Marmaduke was short of one of his three columns, which had been delayed by skirmishing near Hartville, but decided to attack on the morning of 8 January anyway. Marmaduke made several attempts, but failed in each. Most of the fighting occurred around fort number four with Marmaduke trying frontal assaults and flanking movements with little success. As night fell, Marmaduke realized he had lost and retreated back to Arkansas.
The Second Battle of Springfield will never be called a turning point in the USA Civil War, but one could imagine that Vicksburg and the final Mississippi River stronghold of Port Hudson, LA, might not have fallen in July 1863, if Springfield had been lost to the Confederates in January.
Second Battle of Springfield Motorcycle Ride
Follow the general direction that Marmaduke took from Harrison, Arkansas to Springfield, Missouri, through Ozark on US Highway 65.