Price’s Retreat to Arkansas

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Price’s raid on Missouri and Kansas, KHC is featuring excerpts from “Price’s March of 1864” Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater script. The Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater project is a partnership between KHC and the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.                                                                                                  

Price Raid

Price Raid. Photo courtesy of, Kansas State Historical Society. Copy and Reuse Restrictions apply.

READER 5: On the 28th  [of October], we came up [on] the rebel force at Newtonia [Missouri]…a force of at least 20,000, while the total opposing army did not number eight hundred!

On the march thenceforth to the Arkansas River, and the return, it is needless to speak at length; but the result is before us all.  We have assisted in the defeat and total rout of a rebel army…and we have been among those who stood on the Arkansas, across which had so recently passed the disorganized and demoralized remnant of the most formidable army that ever attempted the invasion of Kansas.

General Joseph Mackle, Union army.

READER 1: [Price’s] last halt was made at Fayetteville, Arkansas, where an advance division of his army had joined in the siege of that town, held by a Union force.  But Curtis, coming up a day behind him, rescued the town and drove him further southward with severe punishment…with an army demoralized by an unbroken succession of flights and defeats, dwindling by capture and desertion, with the loss of his artillery, the enforced destruction of most of his transportation, and stripped of his spoils.  It was thus, after an active and most efficient career, that he passed out of observation as a factor in the Rebellion.

Shalor Winchell Eldridge, Kansas militia.

NARRATOR: Price’s 1864 Raid had begun on September 19, 1864, from Arkansas, and it ended on December 2, 1864, in Arkansas.

READER 3: I marched 1,434 miles; fought forty three battles and skirmishes; captured and paroled over 3,000 Federal officers and men; captured 18 pieces of artillery, 3,000 stand of small-arms…at least 3,000 overcoats, large quantities of blankets, shoes, and ready-made clothing for soldiers, a great many wagons and teams, large numbers of horses, great quantities of subsistence and ordnance stores.

I destroyed miles upon miles of railroad, burning the depots and bridges; and taking this into calculation, I do not think I go beyond the truth when I state that I destroyed, in the late expedition to Missouri, property to the amount of $10,000,000 in value.

General Sterling Price, Confederate Army of the Missouri.

READER 2: Old Price has left us again for Arkansas. I don’t suppose he had as happy a time as he anticipated.  He had to run and fight for…weeks, the federals right at his heels, part of the time fighting with sabers.  They run him down the Kansas line by Carthage.  That is the last we heard of him…I hope they will treat [Price] so rough that he will never try to invade Missouri again.

We saw a good many of the rebs.  They did give us but one robbing and that was a pretty severe one.  They took two or three blankets, one thick comfort, two sheets and burnt another, stripped all my pillows, Palmyra’s shoes, twelve or fourteen pounds soda, all my spice, Richard’s old yellow hat, Mag’s saddle, and a lot of other things too tedious to mention.  They burnt two straw beds on the floor.  The last one I run out with it when it was about half burnt.  We had an awful time to save the house.  The straw smoke was so thick and strong I would work a little while, then have to run to the door to [catch] my breath.  I think it was their intention to burn [the house] but they were afraid the Feds were pursuing.

I feel like we are broke up.  O this awful war.  I am so tired of it.  I want peace most any way so it will be lasting.

Elizabeth Hunter, White Oak, Missouri.

October 2014 marks the 150th anniversary of General Price’s final retreat from Missouri and Kansas into Fayetteville, Arkansas. Still, the Civil War raged on for several more months. Thanks to all who followed KHC’s tweets and blog posts of “Price’s Raid of 1864” Shared Stories of the Civil War script.