The Battle of Liberty (also known as the Battle of Blue Mills Landing or the Battle of Blue Mills) was a battle of the American Civil War that took place on 17 September 1861, in Clay County, Missouri. Union forces unsuccessfully attempted to prevent pro-Confederate Missouri State Guards from northern Missouri from crossing the Missouri River near the confluence with the Blue River to reinforce Sterling Price at Lexington.
After his victory at Wilson's Creek in August, Price began a campaign to gain control of Missouri. Union troops had been guarding the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad and its terminus in St. Joseph, Missouri. When these Union forces were pulled away to meet Price's army, Confederate sympathizers from northwestern Missouri seized St. Joseph and sacked the town.
On 15 September, about 3,500 men of the Missouri State Guard plus a number of irregulars from St. Joseph set out for Lexington. In the evening, Price sent ex-Senator and now General David Rice Atchison from Lexington to help these men, mostly new recruits, cross the river near Liberty.
Union troops of the 16th Illinois Infantry and the 39th Ohio regiments were guarding the Platte River railroad bridge in Buchanan County, which had earlier been sabotaged in the Platte Bridge Railroad Tragedy. These troops started moving to Liberty. At the same time, Union Lt. Col. John Scott led a small force (500 men of the 3rd Iowa Infantry, about 70 Missouri Home Guards, and one 6-pound smoothbore cannon) from guarding the railroad at Cameron towards Liberty. Heavy rain and bad roads limited his progress to only seven miles that day. On 16 September, Scott camped in Centreville (ten miles north of Liberty), where he heard artillery fire in the distance.
Lt. Col. Scott broke camp at 2:00 A.M. on 17 September. He arrived in Liberty at 7:00 A.M., and sent scouts out to find the enemy. Skirmishing began about 11:00 A.M. At noon, Scott marched five miles in the directi...