The Missouri in the Civil War Message Board

Big Blue Prairie: Jackman vs. sanborn and Philips

On the early afternoon of Oct. 23, 1864 after driving Marmaduke's division from Byram's Ford, the brigades of Col. John F. Philips and Gen. John B. Sanborn moved westward toward the Harrisonville Road. About two miles beyond their victorious fight against Gen. John S. Marmaduke, they encountered Col. Sidney Jackman's Brigade on the prairie. Jackman had been hastily summoned from Joe Shelby's fight against the Kansas forces outside Westport.

Upon arriving at the Harrisonville Road, Jackman reported to Gen. James F. Fagan, who ordered him to dismount and fight Philips' Brigade which was a few yards to the east. Jackman's mission: To try and block Pleasontons Missouri cavalrylong enough for Price's wagon train to escape southward and for Shelby's rearguard to withdraw from Westport.

Soon the Federals made a mounted attack with Sanborn's Brigade attacking Jackman frontally while Philips attacked his left flank at an oblique angle. Jackman repulsed Sanborn but was driven from the field by Philips. Jackman had failed to stop Pleasonton's Federals and Shelby's rear was in the hands of the Federals.

The sources:

Union account -

Philips' Brigade:

"One mile brought us in view of the enemy formed on the prairie. After some maneuvering we advanced on a line at right angles with the old military road, leading from Westport to Fort Scott. It was discovered that that portion of the enemy's force which had been engaged with General Curtis at Westport, in the forenoon, were falling back, making a connection with the force in our front; Sanborn's brigade coming upon our left a charge was ordered by the major-general commanding, and our entire force was hurled upon the enemy in open prairie, routing and scattering him in indescribable disorder, killing and wounding many and taking many prisoners. The brigade encamped for the night near Little Santa Fe." Philips' Report in OR Vol. 41, Pt 1, pp. 350-351.

Confederate Sources:

Jackman's Brigade:

"About 12 o'clock I received an order from General Shelby to fall back across the prairie to the point where the gun was captured the evening before and report to General Fagan, who was in pressing need. I immediately moved out, and on the way met an order from General Fagan to move as rapidly as possible, as the enemy were demonstrating in heavy force on his front. Upon reaching the general I was ordered by him to dismount my men and receive a charge of the enemy's cavalry. I formed my men on foot and directed them to withhold their fire until the Federals were in point-blank range."

"In the meantime they came on in a swinging trot, and when within eighty yards at the command a destructive fire was poured into them, killing and wounding a large number of men and horses, and causing their line to reel and break. The line of the enemy being much longer than ours, their right continued to advance, but turning and pouring a well-directed fire into it, it fell back in confusion. By this time the enemy were covering the prairie, threatening from every point, and my horses being exposed I ordered by men to mount. After mounting we formed a number of times in falling back and took position until the enemy disappeared, when I moved off in the rear of the army. During this last engagement, Captain Collins, of the battery of General Thompson's brigade, came to my assistance with his only remaining gun and fought gallantly until the command fell back." Jackmanís report p. 676

I ask anyone with additional material to contact me.

Bryce A. Suderow
streetstories@juno.com