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First Battle of Newtonia, MO
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member MountainWoods
N 36° 52.670 W 094° 11.010
15S E 394526 N 4081973
Quick Description: Marker and information on the First Battle of Newtonia, Missouri
Location: Missouri, United States
Date Posted: 2/24/2014 9:08:43 PM
Waymark Code: WMK7Q6
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member iconions
Views: 0

Long Description:
A marker details the battle fought near this location and points north and east. Here is the text from the sign (long!).
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Photo captioned Brig. Gen. Frederick Saloman

First Battle of Newtonia

At or near this location, the First and Second Battles of Newtonia were fought. The First Battle of Newtonia occurred on September 30, 1862, when Union forces attempted to dislodge a large force of Confederates who were encamped a few miles north of Newtonia. The day-long battle witnessed hard fighting on both sides. At the day's end, the Union forces were compelled to withdraw, leaving the Confederates in possession of the field. The Confederate victory was the result of superior numbers and their ability to bring up nearby reinforcements.

Background: First Battle of Newtonia

By the Fall of 1862, the Arkansas-Missouri border separated areas of Confederate and Union control. Confederate soldiers in northern Arkansas were starving for food and forage[,] so troops began advancing into southwest Missouri. In the region around Newtonia, lead could be procured from the mines at nearby Grandby[,] while flour and meal could be found at Matthew Ritchey's mill in Newtonia.

By early September, a sizable force of Confederates had gathered at Camp Coffee a few miles south of Newtonia. Col. Joseph Shelby was there with 1,500 Missouri cavalrymen. Soon he was joined by Col. Douglas Cooper[,] who had ridden in from Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) with a brigade of mounted Texans, and another brigade of Indians. In all, 4,000 Confederates had gathered at Camp Coffee.

The movement of Confederate units into southwest Missouri caused the Union high command to fear that Federal control of southwest Missouri was in jepordy [sic]. Brig. Gen. James Blunt sent Brig. Gen. Frederick Saloman from Fort Scott, Kans., south to Sarcoxie to find the Southerners. Once the enemy was located, Saloman could be reinforced by troops from Springfield under Brig. Gen. John Schofield, and the combined force would then drive the Confederates back into Arkansas.

The First Battle of Newtonia begins: Union Attack

On Sept. 29 a federal combat patrol, commanded by Col. Edward Lynde, encountered an enemy force, the 31st and 34th Texas Cavalry, occupying the town of Newtonia. Lynde, with the 9th Kansas Cavalry, and Col. Arthur Jacobi, of the 9th Wisconsin Infantry, had orders to establish an observation post near Newtonia. But they were also ordered to avoid bringing on a general conflict with the Confederates. The Union commanders needed a few more days to gather their superior forces for an offensive against the Rebel incursion.

At dawn on the morning of Sept. 30, Jacobi, who had encamped near Newtonia, entered the open prairie north of town. Ignoring orders to not bring on a battle, Jacobi decided to harry the enemy with his small force of just 500 men. He ordered Capt. Mefford, reinforced by the 9th Kansas, to try to capture an outpost of enemy pickets on his left flank, while his artillery shelled the enemy position in Newtonia, some 1,500 yards away. Lynde arrived on the scene and decided to send two artillery units, supported by a battalion of the 9th Kansas Cavalry, to a position on the far right of the line within 600 yards of the enemy. From this position the federals were able to switch from cannon balls to shell and canister. The Yankee battery delivered a deadly hail of fire on the 31st Texas Cavalry, who were concealed behind stone fence walls, several brick houses, and Ritchey's stoutly built stone barn in Newtonia.

At the same time, the 9th Wisconsin Infantry was sent forward to attack and attempt to dislodge the Texans, while the artillery shifted still closer to cover the advance. Meanwhile, [t]he 34th Texas had to fall back to protect their artillery. The 31st Texas, left the protection of their stone walls and charged the advancing 9th Wisconsin, but were compelled to fall back in the face of superior numbers after brief hand fighting.

Confederate Counterattack

Just as the federals seemed to be getting the better of the Texans in the fighting at Newtonia, the 22nd Texas arrived on the scene from Grandby and fell on the rear of the Federal artillery units, threatening to cut them off (Map 3). At the same time Gordon's 5th Missouri and Walker's 1st Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles reached Newtonia at full gallop (Map 3). The Missourians veered to the right and attacked Mefford and the 9th Kansas[,] while Walker's Indians swung left and attacked the 9th Wisconsin. Lynde, now surrounded on three sides, ordered a retreat. The artillery managed to hold off the enemy as they fell back, but the 9th Wisconsin, armed with only revolvers and sabers, stood no chance against the attacking horsemen. Many of the troops were killed while the rest surrendered. For another four miles, the Confederates pursued the retreating remnants of Lynde's command.

Photos captioned: Col. Douglas Cooper; Col. Joseph Shelby

The Afternoon Battle

As the morning phase of the Union assault on Newtonia was in its final phases of collapse, the advance column of Saloman's relief brigade reached the open prairie north of Newtonia. A lull of several hours then ensued until Saloman arrived on the field at 3:30 p.m. and disposed his forces on either side of a nine-gun battery of artillery, which began to bombard the town, forcing the Confederates to fall back. Steven's Texas and Jean's Cavalry Missouri cavalry regiments then advanced against the Union left held by the 3rd Indian Home Guard. A volley from the Indians sent them reeling back. The Indians then pressed forward up a hollow to a place where they were able to deliver a hot fire against a sector of the Confederate line. Folsom's 1st Choctaw Regiment crept up on the hollow concealing the 3rd Indian Home Guard and engaged them in a desperate struggle[,] in which several officers were killed. Saloman sent the 10th Kansas forward to reinforce the Indians, while the Union artillerists sent repeated volleys into the lines of the advancing 1st Choctaw and Cherokee regiment, which caused them to fall back. The 3rd Indian Home Guard then counter-charged before being forced to retire in the face of Confederate artillery and charge by a combined force of Texans and Choctaws. Cooper then arrayed his entire force of Confederates in line of battle and advanced on Saloman's position.

A second brigade of reinforcements that Saloman was expecting still had not shown up, so he felt compelled to withdraw his force in the face of the advance by a superior Confederate force. In the gathering darkness, the second relief column, under Col. Hall, finally arrived to cover Saloman's retreat; seeing fresh enemy forces arriving on the field, and not wishing to bring on a night engagement, Cooper pulled his men back.


The Confederate victory of Newtonia was gained at the cost of 78 casualties: 12 killed and 63 wounded. For the Federals the cost was much higher, including the loss of four entire companies of 9th Wisconsin. The day's action had given the Confederates a badly needed victory, but it was a short lived one. Just four days later, on Oct. 4, the Federals massed three divisions under Generals Schofield, Blunt, and Totten and appeared before Newtonia. After a[n] artillery barrage, the force advanced on the town. Col. Cooper declined the offer of combat and withdrew his force through Pineville back into northwest Arkansas.

Photo captioned: Historic photograph of Matthew Ritchey's stone barn, which sheltered Confederates during the First Battle of Newtonia.
Type of site: Battlefield

Mill Street
Newtonia, MO USA

Phone Number: 417-437-5974

Admission Charged: No Charge

Website: [Web Link]

Driving Directions:
From MO-86 near Newtonia, at the curve where MO-86 heads south toward Stark City, take State Secondary Route EE heading east. Take the first road, Market Street, north one block, then Mill Street east one block to the entrance.

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