Friday, November 25, 2011

November 25, 1862: First Skirmish near Cane Hill

Bell Tower at Cane Hill College
Having occupied the three villages at Cane Hill on November 24, 1862 (see yesterday's post), General John S. Marmaduke pushed scouting parties of Confederate troops north up the roads leading from the community.
The purpose was to find out if any Union troops were in the immediate vicinity of the three small cavalry brigades that Marmaduke had brought across the Boston Mountains. It did not take long before at least one of these small forces collided with Federal cavalry that was moving in the same area.

Gen. James G. Blunt, U.S.
General James G. Blunt, commanding the Union division Bcamped about 30 miles north at Camp Babcock (near today's Siloam Springs), reported that his cavalry forces engaged a large Confederate reconnoitering force somewhere between his camp and Cane Hill on November 25th (149 years ago today).  His men, he reported, "scattered" the Confederate cavalry, which fell back on its support at Cane Hill.  Neither side reported any casualties in the encounter.

A more serious concern for the Confederates, but one unknown to Marmaduke, was the presence of Union spies at Cane Hill. The identities of these men were never made public, but they spent the 25th collecting information on the Confederate brigades information that would be relayed to the Union forces the next day.

The spies, based on Blunt's reports, were not the best. They estimated there were 8,000 or more Confederate cavalrymen camped at Cane Hill, when the actual number was roughly one-third of that estimate. They did, however, obtain good information on the disposition of the three Confederate brigades, intelligence that Blunt would use to plan his coming attack on Cane Hill.

The Confederates, meanwhile, were active behind enemy lines as well. In a report to his commanding officer in Missouri, Blunt reported that units of Southern cavalry were hovering along supply lines trying to interrupt the movement of his supply wagons down from Missouri.

I will continue posting on the Prairie Grove Campaign over coming days, so be sure to check back often through the holiday weekend. Until the next post, you can read more at

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