The largest Confederate cavalry raid of the war was undertaken in September and October of 1864, with the aim of retaking Missouri for the South. General Sterling Price’s Army of the Missouri entered Missouri from Arkansas with 12,000 men, mostly mounted infantry, attacking Federal troops under General Thomas Ewing at the earthen Fort Davidson near Pilot Knob. He lost 1,000 men and costly time in capturing the fort.
October found Price west of St. Louis, demonstrating against Federal positions, before moving westward. On October 6, his troops skirmished with Union forces at the Osage River, then pushed Federal cavalry back into Jefferson City on October 7, before Price pulled back due to formidable Union defenses.
The Confederate force moved northwest toward Kansas City with Union General Alfred Pleasonton closing in from the east. On October 19, Price defeated a 2,000-man force at Lexington under General James G. Blunt, and would go on to defeat them again the following day at the Little Blue River. After defeating Union troops blocking Byram’s Ford on the Big Blue River on October 22, Price moved on Westport, where General Samuel Ryan Curtis, commander of the Department of Kansas, met and defeated the Confederates on October 23.
Price moved south and crossed into Kansas, with Pleasonton closely following, catching the Confederate rear guard at the Marias des Cygnes River on October 24. Price’s army was routed despite outnumbering Federal forces 2-1. Price made a forced march southward to salvage his army, reaching Cane Hill, Arkansas, on November 1, ending the last major Confederate offensive in the Trans-Mississippi.