In autumn 1864 Major General Sterling Price’s Confederate army was engaged in a six-week raid on the state of Missouri, intending to capture it from the Unionists. Major General Samuel R. Curtis marshalled the Kansas state militia and 4,000 volunteer cavalry veterans (‘the army of the borders’) to defend themselves against Price, who had turned back from Jefferson City and, after several skirmishes with Union militia, was marching toward Kansas City. Price crossed the Big Blue River at Bryam’s Ford on 22 October; Curtis’s army had constructed east-west defensive line at Brush Creek just south of Westport, Missouri. Hostilities broke out the following day, and the action seesawed back and forth. However, the arrival of fresh Kansas militia made the situation increasingly precarious for the Confederates. After a period of stalemate, Price was defeated by a cavalry charge to his rear, led by Major General Alfred Pleasonton, and a northeastern offensive led by Curtis. Price’s broken army broke retreated southwest into Kansas.
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