The Battle of Dry Wood Creek, also known as the Battle of Big Dry Wood Creek or the Battle of the Mules was fought on September 2, 1861 in Vernon County, Missouri during the American Civil War. The Confederate troops were successful in their campaign to force the Union Army to abandon southwestern Missouri and to concentrate on holding the Missouri Valley.

Battle of Dry Wood Background

Following his victory at the Battle of Wilson's Creek, Major General Sterling "Pap" Price and his Missouri State Guard occupied Springfield, Missouri. Price then headed northwest with 6,000 poorly trained and under-equipped guardsmen to capture Fort Scott, Kansas. Former Kansas "Jayhawker" and senator Col. James H. Lane led a 600-man battalion of Union cavalry from Fort Scott to learn the whereabouts of the rumored Confederate force.

The battle

Lane's battalion soon encountered Price's men near Big Dry Wood Creek, roughly 12 miles from the fort. Lane surprised the Confederates, but the Southerners' numerical superiority soon determined the encounter’s outcome. After a sharp skirmish lasting two hours, they forced the Union cavalry to retire to Fort Scott and captured their mules. Lane secured the fort, then proceeded towards Kansas City. The Confederates continued on towards Lexington, while Price recruited more guardsmen.

Battle of Dry Wood Casualties

Federal losses were 14 men. Confederate losses were 4 killed and 16 wounded, all in Brigadier General James S. Rains' Eighth Division, Missouri State Guard.

Battle of Dry Wood Creek
Part of the American Civil War
Date September 2, 1861
Location Vernon County, Missouri
Result Confederate victory
United States United States (Union) Confederate States of America CSA (Confederacy)
Commanders and leaders
Colonel James H. Lane Major General Sterling "Pap" Price
Unknown Unknown
Casualties and losses
14 total 20 total (4 killed and 16 wounded)