First Battle of Lexington

Thursday, September 12, 1861

The First Battle of Lexington. Courtesy of the Internet Archive.

The First Battle of Lexington, also known as the Battle of the Hemp Bales because of the hemp bales that Missouri State Guard troops use as a rolling shield during their attack on Union barricades, is the second major defeat of Union forces in the region, after the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. General Sterling Price leads Missouri State Guard forces to Lexington, quickly placing the town and Union troops commanded by James A. Mulligan under siege. The Confederates await additional troops and supplies, while Mulligan fails to receive requested aid from General John C. Frémont in St. Louis. Once Price’s attack begins, Mulligan cannot defend the town or his 3,500 men against Price’s force of 12,000. Mulligan quickly surrenders to Price.


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