In 1864, an estimated 12,000 troops under Major General Sterling Price invaded southeast Missouri. On September 27th they surrounded Fort Davidson, a small earthwork at Pilot Knob. The Union garrison numbered 1262 troops and about 150 civilians, under the command of Brigadier General Thomas J. Ewing.Battle of Pilot Knob
Price's soldiers attacked in three waves, the final desperate assault reaching the dry moat surrounding the fort. They were repelled by a combination of fierce fire and hand-thrown Ketcham grenades, leaving behind over 1000 dead and wounded. Union casualties numbered 12 dead, 65 wounded and 129 missing.
Destroying the Fort
Shortly after midnight, after muffling the horse's hooves and cannon wheels with cloth, the entire Union command marched out of the fort and directly through the Confederate lines. To their amazement, they were not challenged and not a shot was fired, the southerners apparently mistaking them for their own troops. A few hours later a Union demolition team blew up the powder magazine inside the fort. the massive blast rained debris all around the galloping team, but left them untouched. Price's troops attacked at daylight, only to find the fort abandoned.
Battle of the Huzzah
For the next two days, General Ewing
led his small command on a grueling retreat north across the Ozarks, covering 66 miles in 39 hours. Rebel cavalry under Generals Marmaduke and Shelby attacked hotly from the rear, but could not flank them due to the rugged terrain. At the crossing of rain-swollen Huzzah Creek, Private John Wynn said, "When I crossed the water was so deep that I bowed my head and drank water without stopping, while the bullets were striking the water like large drops of rain."