Fort Davidson Battle

Fort Davidson

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Facing battlefield defeats in the late summer of 1864, the Confederacy desperately sought victories in hopes of persuading the war-weary Union population to vote against the reelection of Abraham Lincoln that November. That September, the 12,000-man Confederate Army of Missouri under Maj. Gen. Sterling Price moved north with the goal of capturing St. Louis. Eighty miles south of the city, Price encountered Fort Davidson near the town of Ironton, defended by 1,500 men under Union Brig. Gen. Thomas Ewing. On the morning of September 26th, the Confederates attacked, driving Federal pickets back into the fort from the streets of Ironton. The next morning, Price made plans to use his superior numbers to surround the fort and assault it from multiple directions. The Confederates attacked that afternoon, assaulting the fort repeatedly, suffering heavy casualties. Confederate guns on high ground outside the fort took their toll on the defenders also. The multiple attacks were not coordinated, however, giving Ewing's men time to redirect their fire. During the night, the Federals stealthily evacuated the fort, blowing up the powder magazine as they departed. Price, who lost 10 percent of his men, declined to pursue Ewing.  He turned his army westward, ultimately meeting defeat at Westport outside of Kansas City the next month, ending his Missouri campaign.

Battle Facts

Result

Union Victory
COMMANDERS
Forces Engaged
13,500

Union

1,500

Confederate

12,000
Total Estimated Casualties
1,684

Union

184

Confederate

1,500