While outwardly professing neutrality, Governor Claiborne Jackson secretly invited Confederate forces to ‘liberate’ Missouri. On 9 August 1861, Union General Nathaniel Lyon came upon a Confederate Army under General McCulloch, backed by Missouri militia under Sterling Price. Outnumbered 2 to 1, he decided to withdraw, after first launching an attack to cover his retreat. At dawn the next day, Lyon launched his assault, pushing the Confederates back to the creek. But a planned flanking attack from General Sigel was utterly repulsed; Lyon himself was killed in the fighting and the only remaining Union general wounded. The most senior Union officer left, Major Samuel Sturgis, sounded the retreat after withstanding three Confederate assaults. The Confederates were too exhausted to launch a pursuit but the victory enhanced the reputation of the Missouri militia. The engagement was the first of significance in the war to take place west of the Mississippi.
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