Battle of Carthage State Historic Site
The final scrimmage within the Battle of Carthage took place at this location on July 5, 1861. This battle happened days before the Battle of Bull Run occurred. Union commander Colonel Franz Sigel led a small force of 1,100 men against a much larger Confederate force under Major General Sterling Price. The Union defenders attempted to maintain control of Carthage, but they were outnumbered by 6,000 men. Although the Confederates suffered nearly five times as many casualties, forcing the Union troops from the area signified an important Confederate victory at the beginning of the American Civil War when the state was politically divided. Despite the many raids and attacks by Sterling Price and others, the state of Missouri remained mostly neutral in the Civil War, depriving the Confederacy of the material support of a Border State.
Backstory and Context
Prior to the battle, the men held a conference to settle the conflicts within the state. The conference abruptly ended, which did not sit very well with Price. He ordered that the railways were burned after crossing them. He continued his advance, building up his battalions: by July 3, he had collected 6,000 men from the south. Sigel made it to Carthage the next day. After hearing that Sigel was located at Carthage, the Governor planned an attack on the Union army.
The battle covered over ten miles at Carthage, but was pushed farther as Sigel tried to close off the attacks. The battle lasted all day and there was not any progress. The forces met in the town square of Carthage and had many skirmishes. Sigel soon found out about a large body of men moving back into the woods and he grew worried. The men were the unarmed guardsmen, but he believed he knew their tactics. Sigel retreated from the battle while having protective lines at the rear to protect the army from attacks while retreating. The army was able to retreat with little casualties. Sigel along with his troops went back almost 18 miles to Sarcoxie Michigan.
The Battle of Carthage was a win for the confederates, and was the determining factor of what Missouri's place in the war would be. Slavery in Missouri was abolished about 4 years later on January 11, 1865. The battlefield is now protected and preserved with 180 acres of land.
Dicks, B. “Battle of Carthage State Historic Site.” Missouri State Parks, October 10, 2012. https://mostateparks.com/park/battle-carthage-state-historic-site.
US, History. “Battle of Carthage - July 5, 1861.” American Battlefield Trust, July 17, 2018. https://www.battlefields.org/learn/maps/battle-carthage-july-5-1861.
———. “Sterling Price.” American Battlefield Trust, October 23, 2018. https://www.battlefields.org/learn/biographies/sterling-price.
Gossett, T. “Carthage.” Battle Summary: Carthage, MO, 2006. https://web.archive.org/web/20060907083451/http://www.cr.nps.gov/hps/abpp/battles/mo002.htm.